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Two graduates will walk across the stage in ceremony Saturday morning at the Hammond campus as the first to complete the Doctor of Nursing Practice program. 

A Purdue University Northwest student started a change.org campaign last week after learning several students in the Westville campus’ nursing program may be scheduled to take classes in Hammond.

The petition called “Keep Your Word, Keep Us In Westville” was posted to the popular social advocacy website Nov. 30 and had more than 400 signatures Thursday afternoon.

Students and community members supporting the campaign expressed concerns that the scheduling of classes on another campus was not fully communicated to them prior to their enrolling at Purdue University Northwest, and that such scheduling could make other classes or commitments difficult to attend.

“Many do not have the time, money or childcare in place to go back and forth between campuses,” the petition’s organizer wrote on the change.org page.

“Westville students signed up at that campus for a reason and should be able to complete their degree there as promised.”

Students say they were told one of their nursing classes would be meeting in Hammond because it was not cost-effective to continue operating their desired class in Westville.

Douglas Clark, a spokesman for the university, said under-enrollment in a nursing cohort on the Westville campus did lead the university to project it would schedule a small number of Westville students for a non-clinical, lecture class on the Hammond campus in Fall 2019.

“It is normal for colleges and universities to cancel a course when there are too few students enrolled,” Clark said in a statement.

“Purdue University Northwest is unique because as single university with two campuses, a course canceled in a particular term on one campus might be offered at the other location.”

The university’s Purdue University Calumet in Hammond and Purdue University North Central in Westville merged in March 2016 to form Purdue University Northwest. Clark said the university offers free weekday shuttles between campuses.

Westville student Shannon Abraham signed the petition after taking a class on the Hammond campus last year. She said she changed her nursing cohort to avoid taking future courses in Hammond.

Abraham, who lives in Valparaiso, said she thought the campus shuttle was only helpful if she was commuting directly from Westville.

“I shouldn’t have to be traveling three hours a day to get to class when there’s a campus 20 minutes away from me,” Abraham said.

Clark said when it became clear that some Westville students would be scheduled on the Hammond campus, the university took quick action.

“The dean of the College of Nursing took the initiative to meet with these students, well in advance, because she understands the need for students to plan ahead,” he said.

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Education Reporter

Carley Lanich covers education in Lake County and throughout the Region. She comes to Northwest Indiana from Indianapolis and is an IU-Bloomington grad.