Purdue University President Mitch Daniels is retracting and apologizing for a comment in which he called African American scholars, in his words, “rare creatures.”
Daniels sent an apology letter to five Purdue campus organizations representing students or faculty of color. One of the organizations receiving his apology is the Purdue chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP. The NAACP had earlier sent a letter to Daniels requesting an apology for his comments, which the president claimed had been misunderstood.
Chapter president Carey Walls says he and other students asked for the apology, but shouldn’t have had to.
“The disrespect we felt in the African American community to be seen as anything but a human, it hurt especially coming from the president of our university,” Walls says.
Walls also says the apology letter should have been sent as an all-campus note. Daniels sends such letters several times a year on other topics.
“I hope that we can all come to a better understanding, so we can all come together on one accord to make Purdue a more accepting place,” Walls says.
Daniels’ comment came only after he’d been confronted about being tight-lipped in the wake of an incident at a CVS store across the street from campus, where a Puerto Rican student was denied the purchase of cold medicine by a clerk who didn’t understand the student was legally an American citizen.
Walls says he believes events like these are starting conversations about diversity on Purdue’s campus.
“I hope to see a time where not just these campus organizations, but administration can sit down and we can have an open discussion,” Walls says.
Walls says such discussions are necessary to ensure similar events don’t happen in the future.
Daniels was unavailable for an interview.