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Message on Racism and Responsibility

George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Manuel Ellis, Ahmaud Arbery, Javier Ambler, Adrian Medearis, Atatiana Jefferson. Say their names.  Our national uprisings to combat anti-Black racism and anti-Black violence summon all of us to recognize the reality of such racism, its long history and ongoing potency; to see how it is woven into all aspects of society; and to take responsibility for ending it. This is not a black problem but a structural problem built on white supremacy.

We must recognize that the failure to value Black lives is also a problem at TCU. Our students, faculty and staff have been asking us to hear them and respond to their needs, to demonstrate tangibly that we care about them by working to enact systemic changes. They are engaged in profound institutional appraisal, expressing a bold vision for a racially just university. I believe it is important to listen to the many diverse voices who are protesting, to understand the experiences of members of our community, and to commit ourselves to structural change. I write in solidarity with those who are challenging academe to confront its biases, to take responsibility for anti-Black racism that is embedded in our culture, and to work vigorously to transform higher education.

The School of Interdisciplinary Studies was formed in response to student and faculty calls for a new education to promote social justice and intercultural understanding. We situated antiracist practices at the center of our School and embedded these practices in our strategic priorities. Our establishment as a School represented a positive disruption on our campus. To reckon with the national disruptions created by current protests, we have a great deal of work to do here at home.

I am announcing new commitments, some extending work we have been doing and some impelled by events and intended to ensure that we learn from them.

  • We will commit new funds to recognize and justly reward the invisible labor of Black and Brown faculty and staff at TCU who contribute their talent and time – frequently at the cost of their own wellbeing – to supporting students of color and other marginalized students at TCU, to help them feel connected to each other, to the campus community, and to the world around them.
  • We will join the Counseling Center via a financial pledge to establish a cultural-based, trauma-informed counseling initiative to start in the fall semester to support the mental health and wellness of historically marginalized students. We also call on the university to accept CARES Act funding and dedicate some of these monies to such vital student health resources.
  • We will redouble efforts already ongoing in SIS to monitor and address implicit bias and promote antiracist practices in our teaching and research.
  • We will continue to champion the urgent need for hiring additional faculty expert in the study of race / ethnicity and sexuality, with research specializations in fields that can address and alleviate sources of expressed student pain and unite the campus behind a common pursuit of inclusive excellence.
  • We will continue to develop and refine curriculum that promotes intercultural understanding and community-engaged learning for both undergraduate and graduate students.
  • We will re-examine our own policies and practices by listening carefully to community knowledge and external review.
  • We will study and publicly disseminate a fuller account of TCU’s history, with a focus on the experiences of historically marginalized students and faculty.

As interdisciplinary scholars and teachers, we collaborate with faculty and staff in every college at TCU in an effort to educate students and empower them as change agents for social justice. In this spirit of collaboration, I invite campus leaders at TCU to join us in our collective action and our commitment to push harder, today and every day moving forward, for the urgent needs of historically marginalized students, faculty, and staff who are daily impacted by the ongoing legacies of racism.

School of Interdisciplinary Studies