17 October 2006

Jackie Roth Writes to Us: Look and Consider

Hello friends, colleagues and members of the deaf community.

I have been sitting on the sidelines, following the story of this protest. Up until now, I have remained silent but have made inquiries on both sides. I was very active and one of the first to respond to the DPN protest. I believed that when Zinser was selected to lead the University, that it was blatant discrimination. Granted, she was very qualified but she was hearing and there were two deaf contenders. It became a civil rights issue. The time was right; the situation was right to voice our dissent. One of the objectives of DPN was to create a change in perception that deaf people cannot take the helm. That was the cause, one that everyone inside and outside the deaf community can empathize with and relate to. DPN responded to what was old and as a result, instigated the new. Deaf people can and should lead!

However, what happened then should not establish a benchmark for every discontentment or disagreement. As a result of the one of the four demands of the DPN movement, we have a 51 percent deaf majority on the Board.

There are checks and balances in place. The Board’s function is to oversee the work performance of the President of the University and has the right to dismiss if expectations are not met. That is one of the tasks of the Board. Every new President has to go through a year of probation where their work performance is constantly tested and evaluated. The President-elect is given the opportunity to prove his/her credibility.

Let’s discuss the search process. The Board has already said they do not see the search process as being flawed and found nothing to show that it was flawed. They are standing by the fact that they believe the search process was fair and just. Members of the Board are the people associated closely with the search process. We know they did some investigation following the first complaint from the Gallaudet community to determine if another search needs to be conducted. Since they still stand by the final selection, we need to trust their word that through their examination of the situation, they did not find anything that shows the search process was violated, or that there was undue bias.

As a community, we need to give our vote of confidence in the Board. This time around, as a result of DPN, the Board is now comprised of a majority of deaf members who hopefully do reflect our sentiments and will act in our best interests. Most of the Board, if not the majority, were elected to the Board following DPN. By defying the Board, we are minimizing everything that we have fought for during DPN.

Running a University is the same as running a business. Decisions are made by the Board, whether it is an advisory or corporate Board, on the basis of the integrity and goals of the institution. Gallaudet is an educational institution with a hierarchy of power to oversee the operations of a University. The powers that be are often questioned and challenged for their decisions and choices, but they need to be played out to determine whether they are good ones. Evaluations are based on performance and results. The Gallaudet Board is the “boss” of the Gallaudet University President. The President does not act alone.

This protest has brought on a lot of puzzlement, for lack of a better way to put it, because the reasons behind the protests have been nebulous all along and changed from one thing to another. The issues in question appear biased. Believe me, I have read the reasons people are discontent with the choice but they are not reasons that should manifest themselves in a public protest. Many times, people at the top make decisions that are not popular but that doesn’t justify the removal of someone or to declare that the person is not qualified. People at the top alienate people all the time in order to do their jobs.

Gallaudet is a University that has to be run like a business. Its reputation is critical in order to survive, to continue to grow as a internationally recognized and respected place for higher education, and compete with other universities to provide academic excellence. In addition, Gallaudet’s influence goes beyond just being a school. It is a brand. It is THE name that gives confirmation to the outside world and to our community anything and everything that is associated with our culture, community and language. Gallaudet is embraced internationally and those who work at or graduated from Gallaudet are revered. The Gallaudet name carries a lot of credibility.

It is critical to the future of Gallaudet to maintain that status. This protest, because it does not qualify as having a sound, unified and justified basis, is not gaining popularity. When the reasons are not clearly understood, there is no empathy.

I am a proud member of the deaf community. I love my culture, my people and my language. I am also an alumnus of Gallaudet. I was, with a colleague, the first professional student recruiter for the University. I am very proud to have been one of the leaders and the PR person for the four student leaders during the DPN movement. I am also an avid supporter of the University, its programs and its leadership in both the deaf and hearing worlds. I also have to trust that the Gallaudet University Board can carry the burden and honor its duties to fulfill the expectations of its current student body, staff, faculty, alumnae, families, friends and future students as well as lead the University in highly advanced communications and technology era. Let the President-elect, who will be on probation for a year anyway, be evaluated for her abilities to perform her duties and carry out the goals and expectations established by the Board. Everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Jacqueline Roth
Class of 1976


At 12:31 PM, Blogger The Johansons said...

Jacki! Contact me at the Oregon SD. Janet J.

At 6:32 PM, Anonymous Joseph Pietro Riolo said...

You made many good points that I will not repeat here. The protesters have failed to articulate the clear, specific objections to the search process and provide any concrete proof to support their objections.

I am afraid that the sign/voice of reason is being obscured/silenced by the protesters, that the light of candle is being suffocated by the bigotry of protestors, that the rule of law is being superseded by the rule of the protesters. Is there hope for reason to prevail?

Joseph Pietro Riolo

Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this post in the public domain.

At 8:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent write-up. You make a lot of sense and I totally agree with you on every word!!!

At 9:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent write-up! I totally agree on every word you stated.

At 2:20 AM, Anonymous Steve Longo said...

You have nailed on this one and I couldn't have said it better.
Unfortunately, the tide's set in and they are not willing to resolve.
The BOT needs to communicate more with Gallaudet.
This whole thing has alienated the deaf community and I'm sadden by it.


Post a Comment

<< Home