PURDUE UNIVERSITY, Ind. (WLFI)—During an unprecedented year for students regardless of educational stage emotions are high. More than a dozen Purdue students are expressing their dismay, accusing university officials of ignoring their cries for help and guidance during a difficult school year.
On Friday morning during one of many sit-ins on Purdue University's campus at Hovde Hall students told News 18 that Purdue administration is not properly fighting nor advocating for students.
Where did this all start? Organizers of the student gathering, Purdue Junior Noah Smith and Sophomore Brian Lee, said there are a myriad number of concerns however a particular incident took students over the edge.
Lee said on Monday evening students found out another Purdue student took their life the past weekend. Lee said because of a really stressful year many students decided to look further into the issue by looking at data the university provided.
This data is most commonly provided through the Purdue University Police Department's website through APRA (Indiana Access to Public Records Act) and Clery Logs (Formerly the Student Right to Know and Campus Security Act of 1990).
Lee said to his and other students' knowledge the data provided on the PUPD indicated that there have been 3 suicides from the start of July 2020 through October 2020 and one most recently in the month of November. After students blasted the university on social media it gained traction from university officials.
A Purdue spokesperson released this statement:
"The monthly stat sheet referenced in many social media posts was produced by PUPD voluntarily and in addition to state and federally mandated APRA and Clery logs. It listed information received in the call to dispatch, not the actual outcome of the call.
To avoid confusion, moving forward, only the APRA and Clery logs, which list the outcome of the call, will be kept. They are publicly available for viewing."
Despite Purdue's statements students said it highlights a bigger issue that the university isn't being transparent, working to provide guidance and help to those struggling with mental illness during a difficult school year and only caring about the university's image during the pandemic.
However, the university has also responded to those claims in the statement below:
"There are few areas of campus in which we have increased the budget and staffing more than Counseling and Psychological Services. Since 2013, we have doubled both, and every year, vastly more individual clinical appointments, group counseling sessions, and programs have been offered.
The Office of the Dean of Students also has help and services available and offers assistance or simply someone to talk to. We urge all those who may be in need, or those who know someone who needs help, to reach out."
Students said student leaders have had meetings with Purdue officials but says those meetings have carried no substance for change.
Students list of demands, #OccupyHovde Demands:
We demand academic support for the student body.
Including but not limited to: enabling pass/no pass with the same standards as the spring and allowing students to choose an all-online option for spring 2021.
We demand higher accountability for the professors.
Including but not limited to: grading in a timely manner; providing leniency for deadlines; respecting reading days by giving no assignments, labs, or quizzes; and being cognizant of the world’s current condition, adjusting student workloads accordingly.
We demand improvements to the way in which mental health is handled.
Including but not limited to ensuring everyone receives help even if CAPS says they’re “too severe” or “not severe enough”, making CAPS more accessible to everyone, and preventing PUPD from dealing with mental health crises especially in uniform.
We demand accountability for Purdue’s reporting systems and statistics.
Including by not limited to: taking all incident reports with the utmost seriousness, investigating them properly, and handing out the correct punitive measures.
We demand increased transparency from Purdue University.
Including but not limited to: accurately reporting and publicly acknowledging current, future, and previously neglected incidents involving the Purdue community members, regardless if it happened on-campus.