Indiana campus protests follow racial strife at Missouri

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — Three Indiana State University students ended a brief hunger strike on Wednesday after school officials said mandatory diversity training was being implemented for new students starting next fall.

That protest and a demonstration planned for Friday at Purdue University are among numerous campus actions around the country following the racially charged strife at the University of Missouri.

About 15 members of the #freeISU group met Wednesday with Indiana State President Dan Bradley, a few hours after the hunger strike protest started on the Terre Haute campus. The group had started a petition drive calling for greater inclusion of black, Latino, international and LGBT students on the 13,000-student campus, which has seen a 70 percent increase in black students over the past seven years.

Senior Lakisha Johnson told the Tribune-Star that she hopes for continued discussions between group members and university leaders “to move forward into the positive direction we know this university can attain.” About two-thirds of Indiana State’s students are white and 18 percent are black, according to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

Bradley said Indiana State’s University College — which serves primarily first-year students — will require diversity training for new students as well as the college’s faculty, staff and student workers. That will be similar to the university’s sexual violence prevention initiative.

Next semester, the university plans to survey students about campus diversity climate and hold discussions on “helping us come up with tactics that can make things better,” Bradley said.

Meanwhile, in West Lafayette, the Purdue demonstration is set for Friday afternoon. Organizers say the experiences of the Missouri students aren’t isolated and that Purdue students have faced racism as well, the Journal & Courier reported.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels said a letter Wednesday to the campus community that the university strives to be “a welcoming, inclusive and discrimination-free community, where each person is respected and treated with dignity.”

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