Racist Vandalism at Purdue

February 24, 2012 § 5 Comments

Have you heard about this racist incident that made the news about Purdue?! What are you hearing among your peers? I was just made aware of this by a graduate student of mine, and I am shocked, but not surprised.

My first week working at Purdue three years ago, I was yelled at and called a racial slur on campus while walking to my office by a passing car of young white men. Here’s an example where my class/educational privilege of being a professor at this school could not protect me from racial and gender based hate. They yelled: “Get out of here Black Bitch!” When I shared this incident with people here, most of them expressed shame (I can’t believe that happened here!) or wanted to blame it on someone from outside the university (It could have been some guys from Lafayette). I find the latter argument problematic because it shifts the responsibility of awareness outside of the Purdue community and allows people to ignore the problem. Ignoring problems do not make them go away, especially for those harmed by such hateful acts. I hope the university and its community does not miss an opportunity from this incident to make real strides toward diversity and inclusion — not just diversity and not just “tolerance.”

If you think this issue is none of your concern, I ask you to go to your invisible knapsack and evaluate why.

I know personally how hostile this campus can be to racial and ethnic minorities, to women, to LGBTQ people, to international students, but I also know from working with wonderful students like yourselves what kind of transformative potential this university has.


Please comment!!!!

Prof. David


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§ 5 Responses to Racist Vandalism at Purdue

  • taryngerson says:

    The first time I had heard about this vandalism was when the president of our University had sent out an email… a week after this vandalism had occurred. This is a major issue and I think that the letter to the university and students should have gone out a lot sooner. This is a huge issue as this University prides itself on having a diverse campus and having a lot of international students from around the world attend it. I find this troubling as we invite these students and professors from around the world and country to come and teach, yet the atmosphere is not inviting, and when something serious happens the call to action is slow and minimal. This issue is one that MUST be addressed, as well as the racial slurs that are said to not only students but our professors as well. They deserve the utmost respect as they help shape our University as one of the best in the country and without their knowledge our University would not be the same top tier school.

  • sbarell says:

    I was in the same situation in respect to not hearing about this situation until the President of Purdue sent out an email. I watched the link that was posted about this news and It was disheartening. I cannot believe that people would resort to vandalism to express how they feel. People are so judgmental and stereotypical that they need to stop and think about how their actions harm others. Dr. Cornell Bell did a lot for this school and Krannert in particular and it is so disrespectful. I know people that hold onto certain biases but if they use their sociological imagination they would be able to stop and think about another persons point of view.

  • Tiffin says:

    On a more general note, your comment about inclusion and not just “tolerance” struck a chord with me. As a white woman I understand I have privileges that not all have as well as I am discriminated against where others are not. In classes, and on a “diverse” campus such as this, (there is much work to be done to truly make it thus, but that is a discussion for another time) we are taught to be tolerant of all ethnicities, religions, etc. However, there is never enough emphasis on including those minority groups in the majority. We should look at ways to not only stop discrimination but to allow those groups a chance to feel comfortable and accepted as they are. As a society we spend so much time trying to change people to become what we feel is “normal” and not enough on acceptance of those who do not fall in those categories.

  • boilerbballfan says:

    I was appalled that this happened on Purdue’s campus, however, I cannot say that I am shocked. Although often I hear disparaging things that people say, I do not know of many instances that people have made their feelings public. It saddens me the lack of respect that is given to a well-educated, well-liked professor. It seems that whoever did this feels as though he or she is right in discounting these accomplishments because of his race.
    Having worked in Lafayette and West Lafayette for the entire time I have been at Purdue, I have been surprised at the amount of racist and sexist jokes and comments I have heard from members of the community; and it is important to remember that West Lafayette is one of the most well-educated cities in the United States. I would hope that the university would have a stronger statement about what happened. That cannot be tolerated on a campus of higher education.
    On the note of diversity and inclusion at Purdue, we are not doing enough to make students feel welcome and included. This is the most homogenous school environment that I have ever been in. This troubles me, because in not including those of other races and ethnicities leaves out the perspectives of many other important people. We all have different life experiences, and a university should be an environment where we can work on academics, share experiences, and leave with a broader view of the world and how we fit into it.

  • jyevcak says:

    Like many others, I did not hear about the racist vandalism until I received the email from President Cordova. I then did a Google search and found that there were numerous news articles and outraged blog postings about the occurrence. Some have said that they’re not really surprised that it happened but I was actually quite surprised. Purdue prides itself on its diverse student body. I remember during BGR my freshman year, there was a presentation about Purdue’s wide range of students, our large international population, and Purdue’s desire to make everyone feel welcome. So with all of that in mind, yes, I was surprised to hear that such a despicable act took place on our campus. I hope that we can learn from this and make dramatic improvements so that people understand that such acts are not acceptable here. Action will be the key. Purdue cannot simply release a statement that says something along the lines of “this behavior is not acceptable.” There must be actual changes and efforts made so that the student body truly embraces diversity, rather than just presenting statistics and saying that we are diverse.

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