Purdue Can't Bulldoze Our Dreams
Token Latinx ~ PhD Candidate ~ Purdue Survivor
I’ll begin by admitting that, unfortunately, as an aspiring recipient of a doctorate degree in May 2017, I haven't had the opportunity to do any activist organizing around the issue of the bulldozing of the Purdue Latino Cultural Center (LCC) to turn it into a fraternity parking lot, so I can't speak for the activists that are preparing to fight this but I agree with them in thinking that the move is awful, insulting, offensive, and alienating. I am, however, fully and unwaveringly supportive of whatever comes out of the organizing efforts because, as we know, “[Purdue] concedes nothing without a demand”* I see this attack against the LCC as an opportunity to organize around Latinx issues, an opportunity that we have not had since I began my odyssey at Purdue (2011). I see this attack as part of an uninterrupted line of institutional assaults against underrepresented minorities (URMs) at Purdue, which include and are not limited to the firing of Vice Provost Dr. Christine Taylor, the elimination of the position of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) and Chief Diversity Officer, the attempts to silence dissent at Purdue while bolstering the "free speech" of racists and fascists, the reduction of the budget of the LCC and the units in the division of D&I, the continued practice of making decisions on issues of D&I during university breaks when stakeholders aren't there to react, and, most importantly, the practice of completely avoiding the inclusion of a wide and diverse array of university and community stakeholders in the decision-making processes of the university on matters of D&I.
The move of the LCC is a reflection of the fact that Purdue sees Latinxs, and more generally URMs, as disposable and our spaces as up for sale. It is a reflection of the fact that we are only needed to the extent that we can appear in those nice brochures and website pictures, to the extent that we can win our school a big ten championship while they appropriate and blast the music of Biggie Smalls through the Mackey Arena sound system. I ask: How much did the fraternity pay for our space? When did it go up for sale? Why didn’t we find out that the LCC space was up for sale? Did we get an opportunity to place a bid for the continued existence of our space? Does every building on campus have a price tag? I wonder how much the president’s office costs. Never mind, that one has already been sold to the lowest bidder.
*Adapted from Fredrick Douglass’ 1857 “West India Emancipation” speech. For more on Douglass see a recent report by Democracy Now! at: <https://www.democracynow.org/2017/2/2/frederick_douglass_power_concedes_nothing_without>.