Diversity issues have stirred controversy on college campuses around the country over the last decade, and TCU is no different.
But diversity issues at TCU aren’t new. The university has been attempting to address diversity on campus for almost two decades.
As recently as 2013, the student government sponsored a report on the state of diversity at TCU that led to the creation of a diversity council that would work with administration to address diversity issues.
With the recent appointment of Darron Turner to a cabinet-level position for diversity, we fear that TCU may once again succeed in appeasing student concerns but fall short in addressing deeper issues of diversity on campus.
As the former associate vice chancellor, Turner had already been serving the TCU community through diversity initiatives such as Community Scholars and the Inclusiveness and Intercultural Services program.
So when we heard that the chancellor announced his appointment as the new chief inclusion officer we were not surprised, but instead had questions: What’s changed? Was he not already seeking to improve conditions for students of color and other marginalized communities?
By reassigning an individual from one position to another largely identical position, the university does not do enough to restructure the status quo and alleviate problems.
TCU has always been quick to respond, yet slow to embrace significant changes or establish long-lasting policies.
We must reject piecemeal attempts to quell student concerns and protests as opposed to addressing the issues that cause them: exclusion and marginalization.
Despite claims by some students that addressing complex social issues is racist or sexist, these issues must be discussed thoroughly and strategically in order to improve.
If these students want to make sure the university does not become “once-great,” they should consider that defense of the status quo is actually an abandonment of greatness and moral courage. Here’s why:
In times of profound social change like that sweeping the United States today, we can think small or we can think big.
People of privilege and power can think small, closing their minds to the demands of marginalized groups, perceiving them as a threat and holding on to privilege to the bitter end.
They can see racial and social justice as a zero-sum game in which “they win, and I lose.” That’s thinking small. That’s thinking in terms of quotas (which were declared unconstitutional in 1978).
Or people of privilege and power can think big and have moral courage.
They can see the #BeingMinorityatTCU movement as one of living people with a desire for equal human dignity.
For many, protests are often the only logical way to get people to pay attention.
Members of the TCU community who love their university should listen and answer the demands of others who want to love TCU as much as anyone else.
That’s thinking big. That’s thinking in terms of making the TCU tent big enough for everyone.
Thinking big will require humility, compassion, dialogue and long-term changes that address systematic differences. But we alumni have faith that TCU will listen to the better angels of its nature.
We reject short-term solutions that do not engage these larger complex social issues.
We congratulate Turner on his new position and appreciate TCU’s efforts, but we challenge TCU to do more, engage more and be more in order truly educate individuals to be ethical and responsible leaders with humility and moral courage.
Miles Davison (TCU ‘14), Jonathan Davis (TCU ‘13) and Pearce Edwards (TCU ‘13) are graduate students in the Department of Sociology at the University of California - Irvine, the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and the Department of Political Science at Emory University, respectively.