People who called themselves “Kitikiti’sh” once owned the land where Texas Christian University is located today. They used languages of colonizers, French, Spanish, and English; and they used languages we today name “Wichita” and “Kitsai.” Today Wichita is an extinct tongue. The last person on the planet to speak Wichita as her natal language died in 2016. In English, she told a reporter: “They would take my mother and other little girls and boys to Riverside Indian School in the fall, and even though they didn’t live that far away, they would leave them there until spring. And they weren’t allowed to speak their language.” She said, “Ever since I had a memory, I could speak both Wichita and English. I would like for the children to know how the Wichita language sounded.” On the TCU campus, in both the English language and the Wichita language, is a marker acknowledging the displaced people and their languages displaced by predominant use of English. This marker is a recent TCU gesture towards inclusive excellence.
TCU’s heritage somewhat gestures toward inclusive excellence.
In 1873, this institution was started as one of the first colleges in the Southwest to teach women with men and “foreign” students with Americans.
In 1893, a Texas State law was passed requiring all public schools to teach exclusively in English. In 1896, the US Supreme Court authorized the “separate but equal” mandate, making it the law to separate public schools for white people and for people of other races or ethnicities. Often there were not enough students of Asian, Latino, and indigenous families, speaking various respective languages at home, to make separate schools; thus the requirement was that these students be sent to schools for black students. Nonetheless, in 1921, a TCU alumni and former faculty member, the child of one of TCU’s founders, started 1) “a junior high school [for white students where] night courses were first offered for black students”; and 2) a “school specifically for the children of non-English-speaking [Hispanic] migrant workers” with “bilingual teachers to provide the students with both regular instruction and intensive English instruction.” The latter was perhaps the first intensive English program in Texas.
In 1991, some fifty years after linguists at another US university instituted the first non-degree Intensive English Program (IEP), TCU began its own IEP. TCU students began to enroll in full-time English language training, pre-degree, mid-degree, and post-degree. That same year, “English as a Foreign Language” (ENFL) courses were offered to international students for undergraduate degree program elective credits. The multilingual IEP and ENFL students have represented some 80 different nations and around 30 different languages.
In 2018, the IEP joined the new School of Interdisciplinary Studies (SIS). ENFL courses were renamed courses in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and moved into SIS. TCU established its interdisciplinary TESOL Certificate, requiring students who were becoming teachers to speakers of other languages (TESOL) as part of the Certificate to take a course in Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (one of many offered in more than thirty different disciplines in nine different colleges and schools of the university).
In 2019, multilinguals at TCU — working on their TESOL Certificate, and in ESOL courses, ESL training, and the IEP — began explicitly to consider the intersections of racism and the “English-only” movements in the USA and started overtly to advocate for language diversity at TCU, for multilingualism as excellence in “knowledge, skills, and experiences” for a “more inclusive society… and better solutions to the problems we need to solve.” Emergent multilinguals at TCU now regularly, with particular intention, use the English phrase, “the language of ‘inclusive excellence’.” They borrow this phrase from Carol Geary Schneider, speaking as president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities:
In the same way that our society likes to think of itself as post-racial, many like to think of quality learning as diversity opaque or diversity optional. There is good reason to think that many of those who have embraced the language of “inclusive excellence” really use it as a synonym for compositional diversity. But [let’s always use this English language phrase intentionally much more] to refer to knowledge, skills, and experiences that would help create a more just and inclusive society and that would create better solutions to the problems we need to solve.