20 January 2007


It would appear that the MSA team is not as impressed with the protest as as the protesters are. In fact, thanks to the very fine work of the protesters - who basically had hearing white faculty as puppet masters and deaf students (of color and white) as puppets (did I see something about combating racism and audism? Cuz this looks suspiciously like propping those systems up) - The university is in real danger of losing its accreditation. Shall I count the ways in which that would be a disaster for the university?

Apparently, the university - in its new and improved transparency - has all but buried the most recent MSA report and continues to play down how SERIOUS THIS SITUATION IS. Of course, being accustomed to telling lies to the world, it becomes a small matter to tell lies to one's self.

Oooops! Looks like those FSSA folks weren't really thinking beyond their own personal vendettas and agenda. There is an old adage that says "only a fool plants an apple seed, expecting to grow a banana tree." Fools would be just about right.


Novus Ordo Universitatis

Well, the "protest" (I suppose that's the academic term for raging childish tantrum) has managed to reach its incredibly short sighted goal of ousting the president designate. We learn that by using illegitimate and scurrilous means, one can attain an illegitimate and scurrilous result. How proud we should all feel.

Of course, now there is the promise of a better future ... is that right?

Let's see .....


31 October 2006

Gallaudet Board of Trustees Breaks Faith with the University

The Gallaudet Board of Trustees has made possibly the greatest mistake in the history of the university's existence and wilfully so. They have failed miserably in their responsibility to all of the university's consitituents and have made Gallaudet one of the most unsafe places to work and live for all.

There is no reason to trust them and they have sent the message that if you don't like decisions that are, in fact, in the best interest of the university, lean hard and they will cave.

They are weak and useless.

This will go down as the worst board, capitulating to the worst tactics from some of the worst people the university has ever had the misfortune to harbor.

Our hats off to all you good people who had hoped and worked for a different day at Gallaudet. It is with a heavy heart that we say today is not that day.

22 October 2006

Another Light Shines - A Must Read!

A Response to the Gallaudet Situation

I have been struggling to understand why I am supporting the Gallaudet BOT and administration in the current struggle at the University.

I am a longtime social change activist, and have developed strategies for analyzing and addressing power imbalances and structural inequality, through my rich experience working with disenfranchised people and groups throughout the U.S. and through understanding my own disenfranchisement as a woman, a lesbian, a working-poor person and now as an older person.

So I know Deaf people are usually under the power line and have in many ways up to today been controlled and defined by hearing people. In my experience, hearing people really have a hard time “getting it” from the perspective of Deaf people. However, things are not simply Deaf/hearing. Race, class and gender bring their own power imbalances into the equation. For example, the Deaf community is still very divided by race. There is a large Black Deaf community which basically rarely interacts with the white Deaf-controlled institutions. This is obvious in the NAD, which has made little if any progress in including Black Deaf people, or taking initiatives to reach out to and support the existing institutions and leadership in that community. Gallaudet reflects this reality, with a minority of Black Deaf students, and few Black Deaf faculty or administrators. And of course, we have to include in our analysis the place of the Asian-American, Latino and Native American Deaf people, among others.

The issue of class is complex in the Deaf community. Ordinarily it would mean advantages of money and education (in the US). In the Deaf community, education and college education definitely create classes of people. Living in Washington, DC I’m very aware of a divide between the college-educated, Gallaudet people and the others who did not attend college or are not from Gallaudet. Then there is class related to hearing status. People who are Deaf with Deaf parents or families, native ASL speakers, rate high within the Deaf community. People who are later-deafened, with hearing families, and especially those who can speak, rate higher in relation to the hearing community. (see the work of Barbara Kannapell). In the past, these latter individuals were leaders in the Deaf community. Nowadays there is something of a shift as Deaf people become proud of their language, culture and community and Deaf leaders emerge who come from a strong Deaf background, and are native ASL users. Further, Deaf people now have PhD’s in key disciplines and they can speak for themselves with authority.

Things are made more complex by the introduction of cochlear implants—a physical modification that allow a person to hear sounds. We know of many Deaf people who have had this surgery. The Deaf community has been opposed to this surgery for many reasons, especially as it is applied to children who cannot decide for themselves if they want it or not. Yet now there is confusion about the acceptability of this procedure. We don’t know yet if the cochlear implant will create another class of Deaf people, or just add to the “hearing impaired” (as opposed to Deaf) group.

Gallaudet as an institution is at once a home and a history for many Deaf people. For many it was the only place where they could be themselves and take real leadership roles. For many it is a family history going back generations. Gallaudet has reflected the times in which it lived and so did not take leadership regarding race, for example, or even regarding bilingual education for Deaf children and recognition of ASL until fairly recently. While Deaf people do have leadership roles at Gallaudet, the institution still has a way to go in terms of reflecting a truly Deaf vision of equality. This is apparent in the leniency toward faculty who are not fluent in American Sign Language. As a social change person, I would say the faculty should be at least 70% Deaf and all faculty fluent in ASL and knowledgeable of Deaf culture and history. This is not the case today. Also, all students should have required courses in Deaf History and culture and in American Sign Language from a sociolinguistic perspective. So Gallaudet is at a challenge point in terms of defining and redefining what its leadership will mean in the 21st century.

In 1988, the students (with leadership from outside Deaf community people as well) held a successful protest which resulted in a Deaf president- I King Jordan. The protest was a classic organizing example of clear, simple demands and persistence. I viewed the students as being in the right. Deaf leadership was required for a Deaf institution. This was a basic principle. As a result of the protest, the make up of the Board of Trustees also changed to involve Deaf leadership.

Today the issues are less clear. Ostensibly the students object to the selection of the incoming President and to the process by which she was selected. But to me it feels like someone opened Pandora’s box. Every resentment and accumulated anger over the past 18 years is rising to the surface. People had 18 years to take action and address what they considered to be failings on the part of I King Jordan, but they did not. Fernandes was Provost and there was plenty of opportunity to take on her decisions and actions, but that did not happen. Now the students have been joined by Faculty and staff members to form the FSSA. Who knows what resentments or history faculty members and staff are bringing into the mix.

A University is not a democracy. The Board of Trustees has absolute power, and the Administration is conferred power by the board. Strictly speaking students are way below the power line. So one issue would be to change the entire structure of the University and how power is distributed. As far as I can understand, the Board of Trustees is controlled by Deaf people, and Deaf people were involved in the selection process, as well as students. From the perspective of the BOT and Administration, they may feel they have bent over backwards to take student views into account, when strictly speaking, they did not have to do this.

Is the underlying issue how “Deaf” the incoming President is? I recall that when King Jordan became President he had the support of the Deaf community even though he is late-deafened and can talk. There were murmurs in the Deaf community that he wasn’t Deaf enough, but maybe many saw him as a successful transition to someone they would consider truly Deaf. Once again the incoming President is not a native ASL user. But all deny that this is the issue. Still as I look at the protest, many outside Deaf people are torn and are supporting the students (who by the way are not all Deaf, ASL users either) because of the Deaf issue.

As I observe the protest, I see the students (and their advisors) applying organizing methods which were defined in the ‘70s by Saul Alinsky and others. But I have the nagging feeling that this time the organizing is misapplied. Recently the grapevine announced that there would be hunger strikers among the students. I was outraged to hear this. Ghandi used a hunger strike; the Irish prisoners struck and died for their beliefs. Something has gotten all out of proportion. What exactly is it that the Deaf students see as a principle worth dying for? It feels more as if they will use any trick in the book to get their way. Are they thinking of the good of Gallaudet University, really?

Recently the students had as many as 23 demands. That’s far too many to organize around as any organizer will tell you. I understand these were reduced again to two, which are non-negotiable. What is the fall-back position-- where is there any room to negotiate? Added to this are really ugly personal attacks that would demean all 18 years of King Jordan’s presidency, and nitpick at every decision Fernandes ever made. Blanket statements that Fernandes lacks leadership skills only raise questions about the leadership skills of the protesters. And who are the leaders? It’s pretty hard to identify them.

This protest seems to be generating negativity and a sort of crowd mentality that does not allow for critique or differences of opinion. In this sense, while it appears to be about empowerment, it may actually be disempowering, driven by a very short-range definition of purpose.

In order to organize effectively, it is important to identify the social change that is required. As this is analyzed, underlying causes are distinguished from effects. The most successful organizing addresses the structural causes, and not just the results. If the issue is Deaf control of a Deaf institution, reflected at every level of the institution, then analysis will reveal many strategies for change. If the issue is the further powerlessness caused by race, level and type of hearing status, gender and class, then intense analysis is required so that these can be effectively addressed. As I understand it, Fernandes has committed the institution to intense work on these issues, with the goal of changing the institution. She has in fact demonstrated her commitment to this work with her history of support for diverse people and groups.

I’ve certainly seen organizing efforts deflected by setting up committees and commissions which include the protestors and in some cases buy them out while the issues remain unaddressed or only superficially dealt with (i.e. the KDES Parent Advisory Group which was set up when the parents really had the goods on the failure of KDES to educate Black children in particular).
However, in this case, a genuine commitment on both sides to define the key issues and develop and implement strategies for change might be the only way out.

With lack of clarity on the real issues, the student actions to close the entire campus seem out of proportion- throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The university from its perspective withheld action and waited out the students as long as they could. The students promised to allow the sixth street entrance to open so that people could come and go (while threatening to fill up the garage and prevent parking). However, they reneged on this promise, so the university had to have recourse to arresting the students for blocking the entrance. At the same time, the university only asked for one gate to be opened. They would be within their rights to remove the students from every entrance. The arrests were anything but violent. The students applied non-violent strategies and the arrestors were very careful The fine imposed was minimal. The entrance is now open and classes and business are supposed to resume today.

This is a crisis moment for the University- a moment of danger and opportunity. I hope the student leadership will be identified and be willing to sit down with the University leadership to work through what the real issues are, and how to attack them. Instead of creating a no-win situation, backing the BOT, the administration and themselves into a corner, there is an opportunity for figure out a win-win, which leaves everybody’s dignity intact and allows for real structural change to benefit everybody on and off the campus. This level of change work will require true initiative and leadership, and not just imitation of organizing tactics from the past without a clear vision and purpose for the future.

Eileen Paul

21 October 2006

At Least Seven of Gallaudet's Board of Trustees are of No Use to the University

Backbone for the Board
Gallaudet's trustees should not surrender their principles.
Friday, October 20, 2006; Page A20

TRUSTEES AT Gallaudet University knew they weren't making the most popular decision when they selected Jane K. Fernandes to be the school's next president. But they believed she was the best choice to lead the renowned school for the deaf. If the trustees are to take seriously their obligation to the university, they must not surrender their principles to mob rule.

Weeks of unruly protests that have disrupted the university, a faculty vote of no confidence and unrelenting bad publicity appear to be weakening the resolve of some members of the board of trustees. As reported by The Post's Susan Kinzie, as many as seven of the 20 trustees (cloaked, of course, by anonymity) are having second thoughts about Ms. Fernandes and think she should step aside. This is the board that just six months ago unanimously appointed her and that, as recently as five days ago, called her "the most qualified candidate to run the institution."
Contrary to the false claims of protesters, Ms. Fernandes was picked after a careful six-month search by a 17-member committee that included people of color as well as deaf and hard-of-hearing representatives. The majority of the committee was made up of faculty, students, staff and alumni -- all appointed because of their good standing on campus. Ms. Fernandes emerged as a finalist after she and five other candidates were interviewed. Such facts don't appear to matter to those students and faculty members who have just one goal in mind: to get their own way. It is instructive that even now they have offered no cogent explanation of what they see as so wrong with Ms. Fernandes. Indeed, even her harshest critics concede that "on paper" she is qualified.

It is clear, however, that one factor that went into the faculty's vote of no confidence and that is now affecting the board is a belief that it would just be easier for Ms. Fernandes to leave so the university can move on. How, though, will the university ever function if the people who are charged with its interests go against their best judgment and give up their legal authority to individuals who behave so badly?

Ms. Fernandes knows the answer, and that's why she, at least, is standing by her principles. She should not be left standing alone.

Another Beacon of Truth! The FSSA Protest in Disgrace!

Here is Mr. David King's interview with the Buff and Blue about his experience of the FSSA. Read on to see some painful truth:

Buff & Blue: Why did you leave the FSSA?

David King: I stepped down from FSSA because it hijacked its original goal and original agreement with the students of color. We agreed in FSSA to protest the flawed process and not attacking the person of Jane Fernandes. We even agreed that if the process was to be reopened and she is selected by fair process, we are going to accept her as the president. The issue of her incompetence to lead is out of question based on our agreement. I also asked if BOT feels that reopening the whole process is waste of resource and decided to appoint Mr. Ron Stern as the President, what should we do? At first white students almost jumped into jubilee and we have to remind them why the students of color will feel used. However by the end of day, we concluded that we will reject any appointment unless any of 3 finalists emerged from a new process. However in FSSA today, it holds too many reasons for the protest and most reasons can be sorted out through dialogue and negotiation. People injected their personal agendas into FSSA as we are seeing now. Some are seeking to score personal vengeances against the administration or Dr. Jane Fernandes, so in that case I refuse be used. Another problem is that FSSA lacks leadership. SBG is not leading the FSSA, so it is like a ship where everyone is a captain.

Buff & Blue: How do you think the protest's methods are wrong? Can you please elaborate on this?

David King: Because there are too many issues in the protest that it eventually lost its direction. For instance, they are protesting Management By Intimidation, administration policies, low admission enrollment, low number of graduating students, graduation with low grades by students of color, audism, racism, non-recognition of ASL and d/Deaf culture, poor or low academic standard, low number of successful employed graduates, lack of accountability and transparency, even some are protesting allegedly that “she threatened me.” If these reasons for protesting are authentic, then we are in a wrong protest, because none of us can fully guarantee either Dr. Stephen Weiner or Mr. Ron Stern’s administration will halt these problems instantly. Hence, these numerous valid problems in the University which can only be resolved through proper dialogue and negotiation are allowed to censor or shadow original reason which I think is non-negotiable. Since FSSA chooses to focus and champion on negotiable issues as reason for protesting, I think that we should equally adopt negotiable approaches in resolving these identified problems and concerns.

Regarding the methods, we need to take a look at protest in May 2006. We did some lockdowns, but the university’s business operation was not impaired. We were more civil and more diplomatic than we are today. At the beginning of the academic year 2006/2007, SBG/FSSA provided a presentation that eloquently stated protest will (i) be void of violence and harassment, and (ii) not interrupts with norms and academic activities of the university. However what we have seen last week protest is contradict to FSSA/SBG’s creed.

The students of color asked that process to be reopened even before finalist was selected and announced, was our way of holding the BOT responsible for their action, and pray for explanations for their decision why they think it was okay for PSC to select Mr. Ron Stern without PhD and college administration over a black man with PhD and more qualifications? We demand explanation, and whereas BOT cannot justify their action, they will be left with no choice than to reopen the search process, whether it directly affects Dr. Jane Fernandes or not, it will be BOT/Fernandes’ business. In this way we would have shown that we don’t attack her person; we would have shown that we have nothing to do with her competence or incompetence; we would have shown that the protest is not rooted on the outcome of the selection, or because “she threatened me.” Unfortunately the protesters did not realize that there is difference between demanding reopen of presidential search process and demanding Dr. Jane Fernandes to resign. By demanding search process to be reopened we placed responsibility upon BOT and hold them accountable, while demanding Dr. Fernandes’s resignation, we are placing an optional choice upon an individual. Much as the latter matters, Dr. Fernandes’ fundamental right to make an optional choice for which she strongly believes in cannot be overemphasized. If we respect her right to make a choice, then her choice not to resign become non-negotiable. The only option left is for her employer to terminate her appointment or cancel the offer, and such action bears handsome prices to pay.

Buff & Blue: Did you feel intimidated by the FSSA members?

David King: To better answer this question, I think we should ask who FSSA members are. How do we know that one is member of FSSA or not? This might sound complicate. What I think is that FSSA identifies all protesters as members as long as the person attends their rallies, walks out of classroom and acts under direction of FSSA. Having said who FSSA members are, I tried so hard not to feel intimidated, though I received so many intimidating messages from the protesters and their tactics includes, discovering my academic performance and financial situation with Gallaudet University to listserv, discussing my personal and private family life on listserv, blogs and vlogs. In fact since I stepped down from FSSA, I have been labeled so many names such as rapist, racist, sexist, bigot, moron, mole, and pig, sold-out and so on. The most frightening is that an angry student facing me calls me a traitor. Other example of intimidation actions occurred when FSSA member took a quick picture of The Concerned Students meeting without our consent and fled away. Again when a group of concerned students was seeking to meet with SBG president in SBG office, I was asked by one of a FSSA member to check the HMB Atrium and Dr. Donlada Ammons confronted by the doorway querying me “what are you here.” I pointed her to the guy who asked me to check the Atrium, Dr. Ammons told me vexingly that I cannot enter and must leave now, she they turned to the man and queried, “know who he is?’, then continued, “That is David King, he is the troublemaker.” I really felt hurt and awful inside that such statement would come from a professor toward a student in middle of crowds. Whatsoever Dr. Ammons means by “he is the troublemaker”, only she can explain. But that is an intimidation of century I can think of. The concerned students who witnessed this hostile feel intimidated too. Up till this interview, I have not received any statement from Dr. Ammons apologizing for her action. I keep thinking about her and her statement about me, the damage she did to my innocent reputation. I just cannot believe Dr. Ammons, white and an international deaf figure would stoop too low to accuse a black boy and student who have never for once done any thing to her but merely were disagreeing with the protest she is involved.

Buff & Blue: Do you think the FSSA oppressed others' right to an education?

David King: Whether the FSSA masterminded the lockdown of HMB and later entire campus or not, bottom line is that the protesters absolutely oppressed the right of others to an education. I heard the protesters saying that they are willing to put their education on hold and I strongly agree with their choice but they don’t have right to hold education of others hostage or at ransom. You may want to ask how old are those who are willing to put their education on hold that long? The 18ies and 20ies might have more times but not the 30ies. Alumni, faculty and staff who aid effect the hostage of education have nothing to loss, as they have their degrees and jobs to keep inflow of paychecks, with or without Gallaudet University. By lockdown the university they are shutting down the gate of learning, the gate of education, the gate of career prosperity and the gate of academic freedom. Also the protesters oppressed pre-school, elementary and high school students whose institute is sited on campus as well.

As we all are told, the lockdown of university was done by football team. FSSA denied being part of HMB lockdown. But FSSA and SBG are still to make any formal statement in good faith condemning any action taken by an individual or group of individuals that impede learning and academic activities. Faculty’s three hours meeting on Monday, October 16, 2006 ended up without a statement condemning the lockdown of the university that denied them the right to dutifully teach their students who paid the university or even painful of campus mass arresting of students. All they care about was to pass more votes of no confidence. I guess when next there is a Faculty Senate meeting; we should be expecting votes of no confidence (laughing).

By large, the actions of BOT, administration, faculty, staff students and alumni don’t suggest to be indemnifying the university and our learning environment.

Buff & Blue: Will you be suing the FSSA with a lawsuit?

David King: FSSA washed its hands off the lockdown. Though many laws were broken including the No Child Left Behind law, the Concerned Students of Gallaudet University considered it necessary to walk the talk by being civil to protesters and engage them in reasonable discussion. Lawsuit is adding salt to the wound and which is not advisable. We hope that all parties involved will try to meet at round table so we can start healing procedure in the university.
_______________________________________________GALLYNET-L mailing listGALLYNET-L@gallynet.orghttp://www.gallynet.org/mailman/listinfo/gallynet-l

19 October 2006

Jane Norman: So Shines a Sane Light in an Insane Protest

Subject: A plea for understanding and peace

My colleagues,

In an effort to clear up any possible misunderstanding, I want to say I am recovering from a serious injury to my leg which took place during the Oct. 5th Washburn naming of the Linda K. Jordan Art Gallery.

I am a strong supporter of Gallaudet University and Jane Fernandes. Make no mistake about that. Being laid up for two weeks has given me the opportunity to think about everything thoroughly and clearly. If anything, my support for Dr. Jane Fernandes, President-Designate, is stronger than ever.

I cannot support any form of anarchy and destruction of individuals' reputations or the blocking of access to education on campus. I cannot support mob rule and hatred. I cannot support the hypocrisy of people spouting social justice while intimidating and threatening those who stand in favor of the University, Dr. Fernandes, Dr. Jordan and the BoT.

The administration during one of the negotiation sessions agreed to an investigation of the search process only to have it yanked from under them. The constant 2 demands are that Dr. Fernandes resign and that the BoT reopen the search process. Dissenters have said over and over that they were not heard. Believe me, you've been heard. The fact is that the BoT did not agree with you. My belief is that you have been heard. It's just that you don't agree with the response you get, and then you come back with "we haven't been heard.

There have been numerous attempts to negotiate with the dissenters, yet each time as things seem to be moving in a positive direction, negotiation terms were pulled back by the protesters. They pulled back with additional requirements and claim they haven't been heard.

During DPN, I was part of the media team. The stakes then were honorable and just. DPN was a peaceful, civil and sensible approach to making a social change. The current protest is negative and conflicting, and the weight of the issues facing the deaf world is being placed on Gallaudet's shoulders--and on one individual in particular.

“Management by intimidation” is a term used loosely and widely by the dissenters. More accurately, this is a “protest by intimidation.” I see in the media gates being blocked, access to education denied, people being bashed, careers and life work threatened, children crying, international students worried about immigration regulations that restrict their time in the United States to complete their studies, and more.

My colleagues, stop. Think. We have amassed a huge strength of Deaf people and supporters. Take this support and rechannel this energy toward: the FCC and closed captioning; health care for Deaf people; promoting ASL for all Deaf children throughout this nation and sign language for all Deaf children throughout the world; United Nations education and health care for all Deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind people of the world.

My colleagues, work with Dr. Jane Fernandes in a peaceful, positive, productive non-sabotaging manner. Think of Deaf children throughout the world. Turning against one of our own is not going to help us. She is one of us. Whether you deny it or not, the days of using the white deaf yardstick are long gone. It has been said that Gallaudet has serious issues with audism and racism. That is true. Few would deny it. To change this we must work together. And the truth is, there is no one more willing and ready to work with you on these crucial problems than Jane Fernandes and I.

We will benefit by working with all toward the common good of Gallaudet. In speaking out, I have been called all kinds of names, threatened and injured. No wonder people who share my views are reluctant to do so in public. I do not blame them. Many of them have families, some are not tenured and cannot speak up because their colleagues and chairs are dissenters. For many, their careers are at stake. Others depend on merit increases and promotions from their department colleagues. There is indeed much at risk.

I challenge anyone to question my loyalty to Deaf culture, my respect and love for ASL, my devotion to Gallaudet. I first set foot on campus when I was 2 years old. I am a former International Typographical Union member and worked my way through school. My family, Deaf, is grassroots and I consider myself a grassroots Deaf person. We place great value on education. My father, at the age of 12, hitchhiked to enroll himself in a residential school for Deaf children. Many of us share similar stories and take pride in our hard-earned education.

You say you are committed to social justice. I challenge you to prove it. Let us be mature individuals and reasonable in working with everyone, including Dr. Jane Fernandes, toward making Gallaudet for all. I look forward to regaining my full strength so I can stand by Dr. Jane Fernandes' side. Thank you for reading this letter and allowing me to express my views.

God bless Gallaudet and peace to all,

Jane Norman,PhD
Professor, Communication Studies
Gallaudet University