The Experience of Black Students at Purdue

A previous article discusses Black history at Purdue and the journey that former Black students made to get the university to where it is today. This article discusses the current feelings of Black students at Purdue, and the progress that still needs to be made.

Joyce Adebonojo is a fourth-year mechanical engineering student at Purdue. She started at Purdue the summer before her freshman year in the Minority Engineering Program (MEP). “I wouldn’t have come to Purdue if I didn’t know about the Minority Engineering Program here,” Adebonojo said. “It’s basically a supportive group for people of color in engineering. I’ve met so many supportive people that have encouraged me through my major.”

Even though she had a head start in finding support, Adebonojo says she still struggles with discrimination from classmates and professors.

“As a STEM major, it can feel like people are looking at me thinking, ‘what are you doing here,’” Adebonojo said. “But going to Purdue has really prepared me for the real world. Engineering is so white male dominated that I know I’m going to know how to operate when I go into corporate America.”

Students today have resources that were not available when the university opened. Purdue has the Black Cultural Center (BCC) as a safe space for Black students. The BCC also host events throughout the year including Black artists’ exhibits and discussion panels. A large part of their events are hosted by their Performing Arts Ensembles. These ensembles provide cultural education through the arts.

Purdue also has several offices dedicated to the safety of students of color including the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging and the Office of Institutional Equity. Even though these resources are a step in the right direction, Black students still often find themselves struggling in day-to-day life on campus.

By Sarah Peterson