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WGST Feature Story: Student Social Justice Group, CUJE, Awaits Campus Change after Demands

By Hannah Patterson

The Coalition for University Justice and Equity (CUJE) was established in 2019 by a student cohort at TCU. CUJE is still waiting for a public and formal response from university administration as to how they plan to provide the necessary, tangible changes the coalition’s list of demands, laid out to support historically marginalized students on campus, since the list’s release in early February 2020. The demands still remain unsigned.

Post from the CUJE Twitter account in response to the Jane Doe lawsuit.

The coalition worked quickly but methodically, holding their first general body meeting in January of 2020 and having their demands collected, drafted, and reviewed just a few weeks later. When news broke about a racial discrimination lawsuit filed against TCU by an anonymous Black student in 2019, CUJE showed their support by adding a demand in reference to the Jane Does mentioned. The list also included calls for an increased financial support of historically marginalized and vulnerable students, a cross-cultural student center, and a more democratic and inclusive student government system.

“As leaders of this university, we call on you to make substantive changes across TCU that will work to transform the campus climate, advance equity, and realize justice through TCU’s meaningful atonement for its white supremacist, patriarchal, classist and ableist past and present,” CUJE stated in their initial message to TCU administration. “We put forth these demands with the hope that you all will immediately act in good faith.”

CUJE remains anonymous to protect students from retaliation from TCU and administration as they call on those at the top to address student concerns.

“We do not want the work of CUJE to be tied to one single individual or organization,” they explain. “There is no single leader of the group; everyone who is a part of CUJE contributes in their own way.”

As months passed without a formal response from the university, CUJE took to social media to maintain momentum for their movement by creating initiatives such as #TellOnTCU where students shared campus experiences of discrimination as well as a petition to hold the university accountable to its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

“We don’t know what’s more sad, the fact that there are so many stories to share, the fact that every story has been echoed by another student, or the fact that all of them have gone unanswered by TCU,” the coalition tweeted in response to their #TellOnTCU hashtag.

As campus moved almost entirely virtual amidst a global pandemic, CUJE is working to rearrange their activism and keep students informed. They are planning to have a general body meeting in the near future.

“We are still in the process of transitioning our organizing team, however, we think it is very important that the public understands that CUJE is run by students, therefore, it takes a lot of time and effort to organize and run CUJE while being a student as well,” they express. “Even though it seems like CUJE has been silent, we are continuing to follow through in the purpose of which we were created.”

CUJE encourages students to show up in whatever way they’re comfortable with to help create positive change on campus.

“We do not all have to fight for change in the same way,” they clarify. “Some have the ability to organize while some have the ability to share their experiences through social media, both, all, are okay.”

As of now, the most recent updates from TCU administration regarding the list of demands came from a meeting with 3 CUJE representatives on July 17th where the coalition said no demands had yet been signed and committed, verbally or physically, in their entirety.

CUJE representatives said in a meeting with Kathy Cavins-Tull in regard to demand number 7 calling for the implementation of a zero-tolerance sanction against hate speech and propaganda, they were told it was usually hard to decipher the difference between hate speech and offensiveness.

“It is very clear to decipher; hate speech is supported with historical context and evidence,” CUJE contextualizes in response to the coded language. “You know what we are referencing.”

A full list of updates on all the demands proposed by CUJE can be found on their twitter, @CUJENow.

CUJE and their efforts have started meaningful conversations on campus while refusing to have BIPOC students ignored any longer.

“We think that it’s amazing that change is continuing to happen on our campus, however, we are owed so much more and will continue to work to receive what we have asked for,” the coalition makes clear.

The coalition’s work and influence have reached national attention as this has now become an issue bigger than our campus. Reputable sources are addressing the critiques of TCU’s lack of effort surrounding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This is the second time The Chronicle has posted an article on TCU’s racial issues on campus.

CUJE is making sure to take time to prioritize student mental health amidst unexpected hardships during the wait for change. The coalition reminds students during these times, “with everything that marginalized individuals face, be sure to take time to take care of yourself.”