Occupy Purdue Press Release

January 26, 2017

West Lafayette, Indiana -- Since January 20, 2017, a coalition of over 75 students has been occupying Hovde Hall on Purdue University’s West Lafayette campus in support of a set of demands that focus on creating a safe and inclusive environment for minority students, faculty, and staff.

On December 5, a public rally comprised of students, faculty, staff, administrators, and community members was held in front of Hovde Hall in opposition to the fascist propaganda posters that appeared on campus under the cover of night. At the conclusion of the rally, the organizers presented President Daniels with a list of five demands with the expectation that if the demands were not met, another rally would be held 46 days later on January 20, 2017. The current list of five demands was drafted by students, faculty, staff, and community members at an open meeting. These demands were presented to President Daniels and repeated in the statement released to the Lafayette Journal & Courier newspaper and other media outlets. The demands are listed as an addendum to this press release.

The members of Occupy Purdue are specifically concerned with the appearance of white supremacist propaganda on campus, which imply threats of violence against people of color, immigrants, and other minority groups who are part of the diverse Purdue community. Furthermore, occupiers are concerned with President Daniels’ deliberate downplaying of calls for racial oppression on campus. Although there have been previous meetings with President Daniels on issues related to racism and diversity as recently as two years ago, this specific occupation is dealing with concerns arising from the current national political climate that has asserted itself on campus with the intent of intimidating minority students.

Thus far, no official statement has been issued by President Daniels or other top university administrators on these specific demands. In a January 25, 2017 interview with West Lafayette, IN radio station WBAA, President Daniels was asked about the occupiers and their demands. In Daniels’ response, it became clear that he is unfamiliar with the history, aims, and objectives of the occupation.This unfamiliarity or lack of clarity is concerning given his deficient effort to engage with the concerns voiced about the safety and inclusion of all minority voices at Purdue.

In 2015, another group with anti-racism goals presented President Daniels with a list of ten demands. These demands mainly arose from anti-black and anti-immigrant incidents on campus. Due to the encouragement of President Daniels and the hard work of various stakeholders across campus, some of those demands were met or have seen meaningful progress occur. However, given the recent activity by white supremacist groups on Purdue’s campus, we see that new challenges have arisen, and, therefore, new actions must be taken.

The Occupy Purdue group is committed to the occupation of Hovde Hall  for an indefinite period of time until President Daniels either 1) issues a public statement agreeing to meet the demands or 2) he meets with Occupy Purdue to negotiate an amenable outcome. Purdue faculty, staff, and students as well as community members are welcome and encouraged to join the occupation at any time as long as they abide by safety procedures and the pre-established group organizational structure. The group holds public meetings in the atrium of Hovde Hall every weekday at 12:30pm and 3:30pm.

----End Statement (see addendum for the five demands)---

For further information contact: occupypurduewl@gmail.com or come visit us during our office hours in the Hovde Hall Atrium, from 8:00am to 5:00pm, Monday-Friday.

Addendum

1.    A statement from the President Mitch Daniels and Provost Debashish Dutta that unequivocally denounces the fascist posters on campus. The two statements given by President Daniels inadequately name and condemn the fascist implications of the posters’ iconography. We reject the “to each his/her own” attitude presented by President Daniels’ second statement. We believe that in tackling fascism the stridency of our language matters as much as our actions. This is why we want a statement from the administration that acknowledges the threat that these fascist posters present to the psychological well-being and physical safety of Purdue students, faculty and staff. We need a statement that categorically expresses Purdue administration’s commitment to fighting racism and white supremacist politics on campus.

2.    The University to immediately remove all posters in support of white supremacy and investigate who placed them on campus. The perpetrators should be publicly identified for the safety of all on campus and held accountable by the University.

3.    Purdue to reinstate the Chief Diversity Office position.

4.    Purdue to mandate a course on the history of racism and anti-racist struggle in America to be taken by all Purdue students.

5.    That all staff, students and faculty participating in democratic protests on campus be free to do so without fear of any retaliation, discrimination, or persecution.