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


At 3:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Norman, where do you fit into the designated future administration implied by your statement (",,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.")? Are you a designated partner of the designated president? OR would a more likely statement from you be: ",,Fernandes or myself for that matter."? This slight change would have kept you out of implying a partnership status.

At 4:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My message to the Gallaudet Board of Trustees



At 4:49 PM, Anonymous Marie G. said...

Amen! Jane Norman is right. Please heed her advice. Thank you.

At 5:45 PM, Anonymous DT said...

Jane, I admire your fervor; however, I'm not here to discuss the merits of this sad situation except to say it is incomprehensible for me to envision Jane F's being able to assume the reins at this point in time. I believe the current protest has carried her beyond the point of no return.
Hang in there, Jane N. As always, I will harbor a spot in my heart for you until my dying day.


At 9:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A beautiful piece of prose. Thank you.

At 9:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blessed be the Three Janes! They are all brave and honorable women. I salute them.

Jane K. Fernandes
Jane Norman
Jane Hurst

At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a parent of a deaf child who WAS once considering attending Gally...I appreciated Dr. Norman's letter. It give me hope. Unfortunately, let hope is tempered by the "eating of their own" situation at Gallaudet. This is and has always appeared to me as something similar to what happens when an african-american candidate runs on a Republican ticket. I have seen this first hand while working in politics and while this same group of current protests attempted a year ago to take over my son's school for the deaf.

At 8:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to WD ASL class but I cannot it because of credit.
Education, ASL&Deaf Stadies, Councelling department support this protest. It is fine, because they have right of speeth their opinion. I believe that teachers should not show their policy. My ASL teacher strong show the teacher's policy. I feel stress and pressure.

At 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm taking the rest of the week off to learn more about running carnival games. And many many thanks for the uplifting emails, support, and donations.

And I wish Jane all the best going through the resistance's gauntlet.

If you want to know who's around me at the office, take a peek at http://www.myspace.com/ocdac

Richard Roehm


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