President Daniels' message regarding harassment of Chinese student

December 15, 2021

Dear Purdue students, staff and faculty,

Purdue learned from a national news account last week that one of our students, after speaking out on behalf of freedom and others martyred for advocating it, was harassed and threatened by other students from his own home country. Worse still, his family back home, in this case China, was visited and threatened by agents of that nation’s secret police.

We regret that we were unaware at the time of these events and had to learn of them from national sources. That reflects the atmosphere of intimidation that we have discovered surrounds this specific sort of speech.

Any such intimidation is unacceptable and unwelcome on our campus. Purdue has punished less personal, direct and threatening conduct. Anyone taking exception to the speech in question had their own right to express their disagreement, but not to engage in the actions of harassment which occurred here. If those students who issued the threats can be identified, they will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action. Likewise, any student found to have reported another student to any foreign entity for exercising their freedom of speech or belief will be subject to significant sanction.

International students are nothing new at Purdue University, which welcomed its first Asian admittees well over a century ago. We are proud that several hundred international students, nearly 200 of them Chinese, enrolled again this fall.

But joining the Purdue community requires acceptance of its rules and values, and no value is more central to our institution or to higher education generally than the freedom of inquiry and expression. Those seeking to deny those rights to others, let alone to collude with foreign governments in repressing them, will need to pursue their education elsewhere.