Purdue students shocked by racist vandalism

Dr. Cornell Bell worked and recruited students for the Krannert School of Management at Purdue.
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Purdue University sophomore Jordan Woodward is shocked about the racially motivated vandalism inside the lobby of Krannert School of Management on campus.

Someone used a black marker to cross out the memorial photo of Dr. Cornell Bell and then wrote a racial slur above his name.

"It's just hard to think that this is supposed to be an inclusive environment and a post-racial society and something like this happens at the school I go to," said Woodward.

Bell worked and recruited students for the Krannert School of Management at Purdue. He focused on minority recruitment but helped students from all backgrounds throughout his career. 

Bell, a 30+ year veteran at Purdue, became affectionately known for pushing people to get their education. The photo is part of the memorial display dedicated to Bell, an African-American, who passed away in 2009 from heart complications.

Krannert is open every day from 6:00 am to midnight. The vandalism happened sometime last Tuesday.

James Turner is studying management at Purdue and is part of an African-American student organization meeting this week to plan anti-hate activities in light of the incident.

Purdue University Associate Professor Logan Jordan doubts if campus police will ever track down who is responsible, but he is angry that anyone would do something like this.

"It broke our hearts," said Logan, who calls the incident odd for Purdue as well as upsetting.

Prof. Jordan worked with and knew Dr. Bell for more than 25 years. He says Bell pushed him to pursue his Ph.D. and stayed on him until he completed it.

"We don't know if it is one of our students. The area is very open [with high] traffic and open until midnight," said Jordan.

Prof. Jordan says the racially-motivated vandalism came up in a staff meeting where they talked not only about using this incident to incorporate sensitivity training, minority recruitment, diversity efforts and inclusion, but also an opportunity to look at the university's security system.

The lobby where the vandalism occurred has no surveillance cameras, so that's one change that could happen.

"Just having cameras is not a solution. It's treating the symptom," said Prof. Jordan.

Purdue alumnus James Jones was giving his daughter a campus tour Monday. Dr. Bell recruited Jones to the School of Management in the 1980s.

"No one that honestly and personally knew him would ever resort to that sort of action," said Jones.

As campus police investigate who's behind the vandalism,the university will use the incident to teach tolerance.