WEST LAFAYETTE – Purdue President Mitch Daniels, bemoaning the civics literacy of American university students, including those on the West Lafayette campus, on Monday pushed faculty to help come up with a test to guarantee students who graduate can at least pass the same test given to newly naturalized citizens.
“It’s hardly a new issue,” Daniels told the University Senate, a faculty-heavy body that represents various academic departments at Purdue.
“You can make the argument, ‘Shouldn’t this have already been dealt with before students got here?’” Daniels said after his discussion with the University Senate. “As I told the Senate today, yes, it should have. I’d make the argument that it should be solved by middle school.”
Daniels said he didn’t know of other universities with a similar graduation requirement, but he said he was interested in at least knowing students at Purdue had basic knowledge about the American system. Daniels suggested that incoming freshmen would be told about the test the day they arrived on campus for Boiler Gold Rush – the university’s orientation program – and tell them they could take the test the next day or four years later, all the way up to the day before graduation.
Daniels asked professors to help him come up with an appropriate test and process and to do it “sooner rather than later.”
Faculty members pressed him about what the test might mean if it wasn’t backed by Purdue putting more academic muscle to history and other humanities requirements. There were questions about whether the test Daniels wants to give should be an admissions requirement instead of a graduation task. Several professors discussed whether international students should be held to the same standard.