16 October 2006

Just in case ....

any of you have been fooled to believe that FSSA protest has not been paid attention:

Subject: Message to the Campus Community
October 15, 2006

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

For those on campus who say they want to be heard, I assure you have been heard. You have been heard by me. You have been heard by the Board. We have heard you from the beginning of your protest. We have considered and discussed your points of view. We just haven’t agreed with you. And we still don’t.

We recognize your right to continue expressing your opinion, but we cannot defend your tactics. Taking control of Hall Memorial Building and locking out students, teachers and staff is indefensible. Blocking entrances to the campus is unjustifiable. No one has the right to stop education.

The protestors are making accusations in the media which do not reflect the reality of the past week. The Administration negotiated with the leaders of the protests in good faith and around the clock. There was a complete lack of good faith on the part of the protestors. Agreements were reneged upon and demands changed at the last minute. I have attached a timeline of events to demonstrate the enormous efforts put forth by this Administration and the Metropolitan Police Department to peacefully end the standoff.

Most of you do not know how long and hard we negotiated with the protestors. On Monday afternoon, the SBG president signed an agreement to reopen HMB and then reneged. The protestors then made public a list of more than 20 demands, some of which were obviously unacceptable. They proceeded to shut down the campus by blocking access at all the gates, with complete disregard for the havoc their actions wreaked on the rest of the Gallaudet community.

We continued to negotiate but when it became clear the protestors had no intention of allowing access to the campus, I had no choice but to call the Metropolitan Police Department. MPD Assistant Chief Wilson was on campus for two days also trying to negotiate a way to peacefully reopen the campus. It is impossible to have a negotiation when only one side is willing to act in good faith. Chief Wilson and his team repeatedly explained to the protestors that they would be arrested if they did not allow access. Unfortunately, many protestors chose to be arrested. Let me be clear, this was a method of last resort but it was their choice. They were arrested for breaking the law.

I do believe that diversity, including diversity of opinion, is our strength and absolutely essential for academic excellence. Freedom is about choices within the law that respect justice for all people. It is our responsibility to teach these important concepts to our students.

Dr. Jane Fernandes has the leadership qualities needed to lead this University. The Board of Trustees has selected her from a diverse field of candidates. Dr. Fernandes can meet the challenge to lead during a time of change. She can help expand Deaf culture to include all deaf people. She knows and loves Gallaudet. Her years of educational and administrative experience have prepared her to help our students to be successful in a changing and diverse world. Encourage your sense of fairness to surface and give Dr. Fernandes the respect that is due her and the opportunity to bring us all together in pursuit of academic excellence and strengthening our inclusive deaf university.

For now, the University’s top priority must be to keep open the campus and to resume providing education to all of the students in the Gallaudet community, in a safe environment.

I. King Jordan


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