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Campus Reflections on DEI: Seventy-Seven Percent

Image of Dr. Claire Sanders

By Claire A. Sanders, Ph.D., Senior Instructor
Co-Chair DEI Subcommittee on Curriculum
Co-Director of African American/Africana Studies Minor
CRES/WGST Core Faculty

June 6, 2019

On March 26, 2019, the TCU faculty voted on a proposal to add a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Essential Competency (DEI EC) requirement to the TCU Core Curriculum (TCU CC), and 77% of the faculty voted in favor of the proposal. This success is a milestone in two years of time, study, a collaboration that Dr. Ariane Balizet and I, with invaluable contributions and support from other colleagues and students, especially Hope Bentley and Michelle Nguyen, have devoted to this project. For me, the outcome was never certain; there was resistance and opposition all along the way. To avoid disappointment, I had prepared myself to cope with the failure of the vote to approve the proposal. The success took me by surprise; it was the end of the week before I could wrap my head around that fact that roughly three quarters of the TCU faculty who voted indicated that a DEI EC in the TCU Core Curriculum is an important and necessary change to make to future students’ academic experience on this campus. Many of my colleagues, collaborators, and allies celebrated this success; I was pleased with the outcome, but I cannot rest.

On March 26, 2019, the TCU faculty voted to make a change; this was a mandate, but the project is not yet complete. The vote was an important first step, but it was only that, a first step. The TCU Faculty Senate and the TCU faculty will still need to approve the actual language of the DEI Essential Competency, a statement of what students will have accomplished by filling this core requirement. The devil is in the details. In our efforts during the last two years, Dr. Balizet and I, along with our colleagues and collaborators drafted language of the essential competency, as well as a submission form similar to all other submission forms associated with the TCU CC. These are the submission forms that any TCU faculty person can use to have a course approved in the TCU CC. It is now the responsibility of the DEI EC Implementation Committee to shepherd this project, including the actual language of the essential competency, to full fruition.

The devil is in the details. It is one thing to support an idea; it is another task all together to put the idea into action. This transition may prove the most challenging. As proposed, the DEI EC is an overlay; that means any faculty person can adapt any appropriate course to carry DEI credit in the TCU CC. This is the most meaningful and flexible way to add three credit hours to the TCU CC requirements without necessarily adding an additional course. It remains to be seen how enthusiastically and how well the 77% of TCU faculty who voted in favor of adding a DEI requirement to the TCU Core Curriculum will support the actual language of the competency, and embrace the opportunity to, and responsibility of modifying at least one of their courses to support the DEI EC, or create a new course to help support the DEI EC.

Seventy-seven percent (77%), a little more than three-quarters of the faculty who voted — many celebrated that significant outcome. I am working toward a similar outcome when it comes time to approve the actual language of the DEI Essential Competency for the TCU Core Curriculum. Only then will I rejoice.