Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Indiana Students Join National Conversation About Race On Campus

Students at Indiana universities are joining the national conversation about race relations on college campuses.

At Indiana University, Dean of Students Pete Goldsmith organized a ‘town hall’ forum to discuss race issues on Tuesday in light of a racist threat made anonymously last week on the social media site Yik Yak. Although the meeting was public, IU did not advertise it to the student body.

At the meeting, Provost Lauren Robel said the preference of university administration is to work with representatives of student groups and organizations rather than individual students.

IU Provost Lauren Robel addresses students at a meeting on campus Tuesday. (Photo Credit: Harrison Wagner/WTIU News)

IU Provost Lauren Robel addresses students at a meeting on campus Tuesday. (Photo Credit: Harrison Wagner/WTIU News)

Representatives from the Black Graduate Student Association and the IU Student Association were present at the meeting, as well as roughly 100 students, faculty and staff members. It was standing-room only.

Concerns from students include:

  • Inconsistent use of the IU Alert system, specifically they say, excluding crimes against minority students. They cited:
  • Lack of mandatory and ongoing cultural competency training for students, faculty, and staff.
  • Disparity of scholarships awarded to minority students.
  • Climate of racism on campus, including use of racial slurs.

Provost Robel expressed sympathy for the students at the meeting. “I feel so strongly that what you’re having to deal with right now, and especially at this time of the semester, on top of everything else that you deal with every day, is unacceptable and painful, painful, painful,” Robel said.

Administrative officials and students agreed the conversation needs to continue. We reached out to IU today but officials declined to further comment at this time.

There was also a conversation about race Tuesday at Purdue University. It was a closed-door meeting between President Mitch Daniels and representatives of two student organizations.

The students outlined problems they’ve identified with the racial climate on campus and laid out 13 demands ranging from minority student and faculty recruitment goals, to provisions in Purdue speech policy to deal with what they consider hate speech.

After the meeting, students said they received no guarantees from Daniels that Purdue would be able to meet any of their demands.

Daniels issued a statement following the meeting saying he plans to continue the conversations:

“We had some areas of agreement, some areas of disagreement and some areas that warrant research and reflection,” Daniels said. “In addition to today’s meeting with the elected leaders of student government and representatives of two self-organized student groups, I will meet within the next few days with the heads of more than 30 other student organizations to discuss these important matters.”



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