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Purdue’s $9,992 Wonka vax reward: 1 down, 9 to go
A This & That Saturday: Purdue's Old Golden Ticket vax prizes begin. WBAA listeners head to FCC to protest Purdue's sale. GOP's redistricting tour coming to Lafayette
Quentin Betts, an incoming Purdue freshman from Indianapolis, thought he was meeting Kate Young, host of the “This is Purdue” podcast, Friday morning after one of the two classes he’s taking during the summer semester.
Betts said he figured Young wanted to talk about his experience on the West Lafayette campus, coming from the first graduating class at Purdue Polytechnic High School in downtown Indianapolis. As he and Young approached the Engineering Fountain outside Hovde Hall, she let him in on the secret as he walked through a phalanx of cheering Purdue staffers.
“Then they handed me this,” Betts said.
This, in this case, was a placard marked with “Old Golden Ticket” and a dollar value: $9,992 – his Willy Wonka-inspired prize as the first of 10 students selected to win the equivalent of in-state tuition for a year for getting vaccinated and then getting into the Protect Purdue system by July 15.
“Pretty cool, I guess,” Betts said, as mascot Purdue Pete piled off the Boilermaker Special for a round of congratulations and photos. “I called my mom. She was shocked. She was happy.”
The other nine students, already selected, will be revealed in other surprise moments between now and July 29, Tim Doty, a Purdue spokesman, said.
“It might be at home, at work, wherever,” Doty said. “If Pete and the Boilermaker Special can get there, they’ll be part of it, too. He just happened to be here on campus, which worked out. … We know one student is happy, and we know nine more will be happy.”
Purdue unveiled the Old Golden Ticket idea as an incentive in late May, shortly after the university announced its vaccination stipulations for the fall 2021 semester. It works something like this:
Students who get a COVID-19 shot and are willing to share that information with Protect Purdue were entered into the contest for the $9,992 cash prizes, coming from the university’s scholarship pool. As of this week, Purdue reported that roughly 60% of students had provided their vaccination status. Based on an enrollment of 46,000 students, that would give the currently vaccinated student body 10 chances in 27,600 to win. Doty said winners were chosen with a random number generator, audited by BKD, an Indianapolis-based accounting firm.
Students who remain unvaccinated will be entered into a different pool – one for random COVID-19 testing protocols, similar to the ones every student lived through during the 2020-21 school year.
Betts said he didn’t remember when he got his shot, just that his family told him he needed to do it for his own good. He said he’d been at Purdue last summer for courses with others in his Purdue Polytechnic graduating class. He said he had to go through the COVID-19 testing then.
“I wasn’t looking to do that any more than I had to, ever again,” Betts said.
Betts was part of the first class at Purdue Polytechnic, a school the university established to build a pipeline of students from the Indianapolis Public Schools district to Purdue. Of the 110 graduating seniors in spring 2021, 40 were accepted to Purdue.
Betts said he started at Purdue Polytechnic thinking he wanted to be an engineer. He found out in the first two years that engineering was not for him. He played football and ran track before graduating and aiming at a degree in finance, time in Purdue’s ROTC program and eventually joining the military. Betts said he wants to translate that into a career as an FBI or DEA agent.
“This is a good start,” Betts said, tapping the golden ticket placard and posing for photos before heading back to his dorm room at Earhart Hall. “Anybody’d be happy with this.”
This and that …
WBAA LISTENERS’ LAST DITCH PETITION: A group of public radio listeners didn’t get a chance to speak their minds a few weeks ago, silently holding up “Save WBAA” signs as Purdue trustees unanimously voted to start a process to transfer the university’s 99-year-old station’s license to the parent company of Indianapolis’ WFYI. This week, a few of them started an online petition drive aimed at the Federal Communications Commission, in hopes of derailing a plan that would divorce WBAA from Purdue by the first week of October. “I really hate for such a dirty deal to go without even a little bump,” Roberta Schonemann, a West Lafayette resident, who organized the petition posted Thursday at change.org. She said WBAA listeners will take paper versions to farmers markets in Lafayette and West Lafayette in the coming weeks. As of Friday morning, the petition had 56 signatures. Purdue President Mitch Daniels and trustees said the deal – the terms of which have not been released, yet – would be the best thing for WBAA, putting it under the management of a company devoted to public broadcasting instead of being on a campus where it never was going to be a priority. Metropolitan Indianapolis Public Media, the parent company of WFYI, said it planned to keep the WBAA call letters, stick with National Public Radio programming, a physical presence in Greater Lafayette – still up in the air about space on the West Lafayette campus – and maintain Greater Lafayette personalities and news gathering. Daniels pointed to other universities who had made similar moves with their radio stations. “We’re late to this party. … It was the right decision and needed to be done.” The petition begs otherwise: “WBAA is one of Purdue’s crown jewels, a significant part of its history representing all that we value, from the integrity of news reporting, outstanding talk and information programs and great music. Therefore, we urge that the transfer of WBAA to Indianapolis be immediately reversed to allow for public discussion and public input.”
REDISTRICTING TOUR COMING TO LAFAYETTE: Indiana Republicans announced Thursday that an Aug. 6 meeting in Lafayette will be among eight stops in a tour touted as a way to get feedback ahead of the General Assembly redrawing congressional and Indiana House and Senate districts. Redistricting happens once a decade after U.S. Census population counts are finalized. The new districts, once drawn, will be in play for the 2022 elections. The public hearings across the state – others will be in Anderson, Columbus, Valparaiso, Fort Wayne, Elkhart, Evansville, Sellersburg and Indianapolis – come before the final Census figures on redistricting are expected to be released Aug. 16. An AP report included this passage: “Republican legislative leaders have discussed possible votes on approving those new maps in mid- to late-September but haven’t agreed to a call from voting rights activists for the public to have at least a month to review proposed district maps before they are finalized.” State Rep. Tim Wesco, a Republican from Osceola and chairman of the House Committee on Elections and Apportionment, said in Thursday’s release: “Hoosiers can be confident that we'll continue to meet all of our statutory and constitutional requirements." Mike Schmuhl, Indiana Democratic Party chairman, warned about Republicans, who already have supermajorities in the Indiana House and Senate, looking to draw lines that shore up that power. “The Indiana Republican supermajority will no doubt be tempted to continue to rig the system against Hoosiers who simply want to choose their representatives in free, fair and competitive elections,” Schmuhl said. “Indiana Democrats are ready to take this vital democratic debate across the state and demand that Republicans value and respect all Hoosier voices – not just elected Republican officeholders and operatives behind closed doors. Our state cannot go through another decade with this imbalance in our government.” (For more coverage about how questions about redistricting and gerrymandering have played out in recent months, The Indiana Citizen, a nonprofit advocate for redistricting reform, has been on top of it. Check the coverage here.) The Lafayette public hearing will be 10 a.m.-noon Friday, Aug. 6, at the Ivy Tech Community College Lafayette campus, 3101 S. Creasy Lane.
PURDUE POLICE GET BODY CAMS: Purdue announced this week that its officers will be equipped with body cameras for the first time, by the start of the spring 2022 semester. The department has had dashboard cameras for nearly two decades, Chief John Cox said. But the campus police had been among the last departments in the Big Ten and across the state to get body cameras, as worn by officers in other Greater Lafayette police departments. Cox said the system will be similar to ones used by West Lafayette police officers.
FORCED TO PLAY IN ‘PANTIES’ …: Purdue American studies professor Cheryl Cooky, who studies gender and sports in society, played a featured role in a great overview this week of a sports fashion controversy in the newsletter The Lily under the headline: “Forced to play in ‘panties,’ the Norwegian beach handball team decided they’d had enough.” The upshot: The athletes wanted to wear shorts. Their governing body demanded they wear bikini bottoms. The athletes were fined when they showed up in shorts during the European Championship. Cooky’s assessment: “It’s about patriarchy and sexism. Let’s be real here.” It’s a good read as you settle in for two weeks of Olympic sports you only see every four years.
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