After Purdue President Mitch Daniels left the PSG senate meeting Wednesday, several students engaged him in an approximately 30-minute discussion about issues with diversity on campus in the hallway of Pfendler Hall.
During the discussion, one student asked what Purdue could improve on regarding minority students.
Daniels said recruiting more minority students would be one place. Touting his initiative to encourage inner-city high schools to get minority students to attend Purdue, Daniels said the school system in Indiana isn’t producing minority students but Purdue is recruiting in every way it can.
As he spoke, the president mentioned one specific minority student he would have recruited by the end of the week.
“I will be recruiting one of the rarest creatures in America: a leading, I mean a really leading African American scholar,” he said.
“Creatures?” echoed D’Yan Berry, president of the Black Student Union. “Come on.”
“It’s a figure of speech, you must have taken some literature,” he said. “One of the rarest, let me say, rarest birds, rarest, rarest, rarest phenomena.”
“Person,” Berry responded. “Students. It’s words to make us humanized.”
Berry said over the phone later on Wednesday that she didn’t realize Daniels was talking about a human when he said the word “creature” until he said “African American.”
Purdue spokesperson Tim Doty said on the phone Thursday morning the comment was an innocent mistake.
"I think the only thing to say is that the student missed the point," he said. "It was an innocent mistake on everybody's part."