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TCU plans to add diversity official after students send demand letter

TCU officials are planning to add a “Cabinet-level” diversity officer after students sent a demand letter asking for more campus inclusiveness.
TCU officials are planning to add a “Cabinet-level” diversity officer after students sent a demand letter asking for more campus inclusiveness. Star-Telegram

TCU is planning to establish a “Cabinet-level” position after a group of students sent a letter to administrators demanding efforts to improve campus inclusiveness and diversity, the school announced this week.

The position would “lead efforts regarding diversity and inclusion and providing additional training for all students, faculty and staff,” a university statement said.

University spokeswoman Holly Ellman confirmed that administrators received a list of 14 demands in a recent letter from the Black Students and Allies of TCU. The students have met with administrators over the last several weeks.

Their demands, which were first reported by student media website TCU 360, included:

  • Lowering campus flags to half-staff when “people of color around the nation are murdered by people who are supposed to protect and serve.”
  • A $100 million endowment to make a more “fiscally feasible option through non-athletic scholarships” for minority students
  • An increase of at least 10 percent in the number of faculty of color
  • A zero-tolerance policy for racially insensitive and hateful speech
  • Sensitivity training for faculty, staff and students “that focuses not only on racial and anti-Semitic intolerance but also micro-aggressions.”
  • A “Greek-life diversity task force” to implement sensitivity training for all students considering joining fraternities and sororities

The letter did not list any specific racial incidents on campus but said minority students are subjected to “denigrating stares from other students, derogatory comments and low expectations.”

“Feeling a sense of alienation along with trying to maintain a high grade point average and remain involved on campus creates unnecessary burdens that can hurt students in the long run,” the letter said.

The letter gave university officials 20 days to respond before “various forms of escalation” would take place.

“We will stop at nothing to ensure that the cultural presence of black people on this campus is acknowledged and appreciated,” the letter said.

TCU 360 reported that the students behind the letter, which include a TCU 360 managing editor, have been silently protesting during the national anthem at TCU football games this season.

Organizers of the student group were not immediately reached for comment Wednesday.

Ellman, the TCU spokeswoman, sent a statement to the Star-Telegram when asked about the letter:

“As always, we recognize the importance of our students engaging with social issues both on our campus and in the world around them. TCU has enjoyed a longstanding commitment to shared governance, and students have an important voice in discussions involving their quality of life on campus.”

This fall, 29.1 percent of TCU students are minorities, a number that has increased from 26.7 percent since 2012, according to the university fact book. Five percent of TCU’s 10,394 students are African-American.

Of the university’s 623 faculty members, 89 (14 percent) are minorities, the fact book says.

Hundreds of Twitter users Tuesday night and Wednesday morning were sharing their personal experiences at TCU on the hashtag “#BeingMinorityatTCU.”