09 October 2006

Gallaudet University President Jordan --- You won't believe your eyes!!!

Subject: Open Letter to the Campus Community

Dear Members of the Campus

Community, I want to take this opportunity to let you know what’s happening at HMB and to ask your support in helping to resolve this unfortunate situation. We all have an important role to play.

I feel sure that many of you are as saddened as I am by the current discord on our campus, but I believe together we can restore civility and mutual respect to our campus. Interim Provost Michael Moore, Dean Carl Pramuk, and Enrollment Services Executive Director Deborah DeStefano met throughout the weekend with the dissenters who have been in HMB since last Friday. We have continuously met in good faith only to have their demands change. They have done so at my request and I appreciate their dedication and hard work.

We want to assure a positive educational experience in a safe environment for all of our campus community, but we cannot do that alone. It will take every student and member of the administration, faculty, and staff to come together to restore trust and a sense of security to a badly shaken community.

I believe we all need to be part of this problem’s resolution. I feel compelled to set the record straight on a number of issues. The Board of Trustees and the administration have heard and considered the dissenters regarding the search process and the selection of the 9th President. The Board has reaffirmed its support of the selection of Dr. Fernandes as the next President of Gallaudet University.

We are committed to free speech and so it is doubly painful to have some faculty, students and staff threaten and intimidate others who have every right to differ from the dissenters. Indeed some of their actions have been shameful. Nothing excuses their assault on me and the disrespect shown to my family last Thursday at what should have been a celebration for the entire campus. They have tried to impose their will on everyone at Gallaudet by taking over HMB. Those who have acted unlawfully must take responsibility for those actions and will face the consequences of their actions.

The dissenters vandalized one of the campus’ most cherished locations, College Hall. They have encouraged the harassment of board and administration members and their families by publishing their home and work numbers as well as other personal information, and then encouraging others to use that information to continuously disrupt their lives. They have disseminated misinformation and cried foul when the administration has tried to set the record straight. An example is their claim that a DPS officer assaulted students. The board has requested, and we will have, an outside investigator review this allegation. They have misrepresented the board chair’s support of Dr. Fernandes on a blog and falsely claimed that the Board did not meet with them. What the Board did not do is agree with them.

Despite these provocations we have continued to look for common ground. Gallaudet University has a rich tradition of caring and community spirit. We want to invoke that sense of family to resolve the occupation of HMB.

Let us remind our students and colleagues in HMB that their actions hurt us all. We welcome dialogue, but cannot allow a group of dissenters to lock us out of one of our own buildings. They promised not to interfere with others’ rights, however, they have broken that trust. I ask you to use your influence to let the students and your colleagues know how you feel. Together we must address the issues confronting us and begin the healing process.
I. King Jordan


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