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IU says it won't change diplomas at satellite campuses



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Members of IU-Bloomington's graduating class of 2018 pose for a picture before the start of the undergraduate commencement May 5 at Memorial Stadium. The diplomas at IUB and its satellite campuses are nearly identical and will stay that way, a spokesperson said. Matt Begala Buy Photos

When it is time for students at IU Northwest and other satellite campuses to graduate, their diplomas will simply read "Indiana University." 

IU has not considered making this change, said spokesman Chuck Carney. 

The Purdue University Board of Trustees announced last month it will change the diplomas of its satellite campuses to prominently state the region in which they were earned, sparking criticism from many students who felt like they were being cheated by the change. 

Thomas Keon, chancellor of Purdue University Northwest, announced the change in an email sent out to students with no prior warning. All universities in the Purdue system will be affected, including Purdue University Northwest, Purdue University Fort Wayne and Purdue University Global, according to the email.

“Everything we do as a comprehensive university to ensure the success of our graduates — from high-quality teaching and scholarship, to a robust campus community, to a growing alumni network — will be further reflected in our diploma,” Keon wrote in the email.

Prior to this announcement, diplomas from IU and Purdue's satellite campuses were similar in design.

The current diploma reads “Purdue University” in overarching letters at the top, while acknowledging in smaller print on the bottom it was earned at a regional campus, such as Purdue Northwest, rather than the West Lafayette campus. 

The announcement received backlash from students at Purdue Northwest, as protests were organized on campus and screenshots of Keon’s email received hundreds of shares on social media.

Joseph Jansky, student body president at IUN in Gary, said he doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about on both sides of the argument. 

“In the case of starting your career, employers aren’t really concerned if it’s an IU Northwest degree or an IU-Bloomington degree,” Jansky said. “They care more about the experiences that you have and what you bring to the table.”

Although, Jansky said he understands the students of Purdue Northwest may have been upset due to the sudden nature of the announcement and the little warning they were given. 

“I think the majority of the outcry is more for the students who feel kind of blindsided by it, and they feel disenfranchised by it,” Jansky said. “Because they assumed that they would get a Purdue University degree and now it got changed to a Purdue University Northwest degree.”

Indiana Sen.Michael Bohacek, R-District 8, announced in a press release Friday that he will be introducing legislation to the Indiana General Assembly in 2019 in support of all students attending regional campuses. The law would restrict diplomas from prominently displaying that a student graduated from a satellite campus.

“The university promotes that students will earn a Purdue University degree,” Bohacek said in the release. “It is unfair for students who attend Purdue University Northwest to receive a degree distinguishing it as a satellite campus.”

Alero Jackson, a senior and head of communications for IU Northwest’s student government, supports Bohacek’s proposed legislation. She said since IU Northwest isn't recognized in the Big Ten Conference, there isn't the same value behind an IU Northwest diploma.

“You’re still getting the same education, but it doesn’t have the same significance as having just Indiana University on the diploma,” Jackson said.

After the backlash received from students, Keon announced he would suggest the trustees postpone the change until 2023. With this delay, all current Purdue Northwest students would be able to graduate with Purdue University on their diploma. 

The Purdue Board of Trustees are scheduled to vote on this proposal Oct. 12.

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