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Gallaudet's Grievous Misstep

The departure of Jane Fernandes, the embattled Gallaudet University president-designate, was inevitable. She had failed utterly to engage the students and faculty members who so vociferously and consistently protested against her ascension to the school's top job. She was unnecessarily and counterproductively bitter and even sniping in her public comments about the students and their motives. And she had apparently managed to tick off a large majority of people on the Northeast Washington campus.

So when the school's board of trustees unceremoniously gave her the boot yesterday, it made sense that the people with the ultimate responsibility for Gallaudet would conclude that Fernandes was not competent to ease the tension on campus. But the way the trustees went about that business was destructive to any hopes that Gallaudet might get a handle on its governance or the issues dividing deaf America anytime soon.

The trustees had left Fernandes hanging for way too long. They had failed to support her vocally and with meaningful steps throughout the long campus shutdown. And when they finally made their move, they caved to the petulence and arrogance of the student protestors while sending only the mildest message of rebuke.

Right up to the end, the students issued unilateral demand after demand, believing--as it turned out, correctly--that they govern the university. If the board had instantly announced the appointment of a hard-line interim president, it could have made clear that Gallaudet was run by its trustees, not by the loudest students. The board could have sent the message that it would continue with its direction and policies despite the departure of Fernandes. Instead, the board was silent about governance.

The only gesture the board made toward establishing its authority was a bland statement about how those who violated the law "will be held accountable." As a result of this nod toward asserting the rule of law, the students are now refusing to take down their protests, insisting that they be absolved of all responsibility for their actions in paralyzing the university for weeks on end.

Once again, the federal government, which uses taxpayer dollars to provide 70 percent of Gallaudet's budget, remains silent; even the three congressional representatives on the Gallaudet board have said little or nothing. It will take a long time before Gallaudet's administration can regain any sense of control over the school; maybe they need some help from the entity that pays the freight.

By Marc Fisher |  October 30, 2006; 7:31 AM ET
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What a disastrous mess. The other night I was talking to someone who teaches at Gallaudet who pointed out that the pool of people who *can* be president is about the size of a backyard kiddie pool - they have to be deaf, preferably born deaf. They have to have a Ph.D. And they have to *want* the job.

Seems to me the latter could now be the hardest to find. Who could possibly want to step into that mess?

Posted by: h3 | October 30, 2006 8:17 AM

I work at Gallaudet, and I dread the coming months. I feel as if the King and Queen have been guillotined, and now we are in for the reign of terror. Not a pretty picture.

Posted by: Jane Hurst | October 30, 2006 8:21 AM

Yea... its pretty unfortunate that we have that right to, ya know, free speech, in this country, ain't it Fisher? The students had every right, as the university's paying customers, to protest. The board equally had every right not to care, and say too bad. Ultimately, they decided, they were better off not risking the loss of their entire customer base. So instead of offering a product that their market did not want to buy, they decided to adapt to their marketplace, like any other business on earth would. For being such a wack-job liberal on most things Fisher, you've been surprisingly on the side of unlimitted authority for no good reason throughout this one. Is it just the typical retreat to Well I'm getting to be old and wrinkled, and therefore to feel better about myself I'll pretend every under the age of 40 is stupid and should have no right to practice their civil liberties? Whatever happened to I don't agree with what you say, but I'll gladly defend your right to say it??

Posted by: PJB | October 30, 2006 8:25 AM

It was mentioned in one of your (The WP) chats that Gallaudet students stay around the campus long after graduation.

Well, I sure hope they do because they will find the real world a devestating place once they realize that throwing tantrums like children doesn't always bring about a desired outcome.

It's a shame they couldn't have worked with someone as qualified as Fernandes to find a more equitable way to end this stand-off.

Posted by: fb | October 30, 2006 8:27 AM

Personally, I never really understood the reasons for the protest because the students never laid out any real grievances other than "we don't want her send her away", "don't hold us accountable for denying thousands of students valuable paid class time" and "she isn't deaf enough". Is this really the way the deaf community operates or are we just getting a garbled news filter? (hopefully the latter because how on earth can someone not be deaf enough- the discrimination in that statement is so blatent if it was a race comment the backlash would have been immediate) I'm sorry the students won, despite the fact that I agree people should be able to voice their opinions, because of how childish and ill constructed this protest was. Where and what were the issues!?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 8:37 AM

talk about a typical response from a journalist. first of all you blame the woman for not compromising, and then you say the board who too compromising. in case you havent been follwing the whole fiasco, she had every reason to be bitter, and not compromising. how would you feel if someone insisted that you were incapable of doing your job before you had an opportunity to?
this could have only happened in a school like gallaudet because all those students did was use perceived pulic sentiment, and the media such as yourself to their advantage.
i am a big fan of the student union and fighting for whats right, but we all know that if given the opportunity, just like the very things we all claim to fight against, we would abuse the privelige.

Posted by: Techgizmo | October 30, 2006 8:38 AM

Once again, Gallaudet insists on infantizing the students who go there. We even get infantile little whiners like PBJ up above who believe that "free speech" means shutting down the campus so that no one's voice can be heard.

You little whiners remind me of my daughter when she says "Oh, I can't do well in my math class because I hate my math teacher. She's weird". The only difference is that I tell my daughter to grow up and the teacher should not make a difference, she needs to get on with her work.

Oh sorry, I guess I'm not supposed to be honest about these people because they're deaf and they're so brave and only a deaf person can understand and no one has suffered as much as them [rolling eyes].

The only people I feel for are the students who just wanted to go there to learn, and didn't want to get caught up in a bunch of 20 year olds with more desire to whine than learn. Idiots.

Posted by: Trunkley | October 30, 2006 8:40 AM

If 70% of Gallaudet's money comes from the government and many students never really graduate (they jut linger around for years), where is the oversight as to how taxpayers money is being spent? Is Gallaudet a "true" university and is a degree from Gallaudet equivalent to a degree from any other university? If it is an accredited university, it certainly lacks guidelines that is applicable to other universities. It appears to me that my tax dollars is funding a free-wheeling commune. I say, shut it down unless it can be run as a real educational institution.

Posted by: Not my Tax Dollars | October 30, 2006 8:45 AM

This is perhaps the worst of all possible outcomes. Positive reinforcement has been given to the perpetually aggrieved and protesting students at Gallaudet that their campaign of terror is a successful means to their ends. This is a hugely foolish decision by the board. By caving to the latest in a series of escalating demands, the board may think it is following the path of least resistance, but in fact they are only setting themselves up for even greater demonstrations by unruly and petulant students.

The students have shown they are the ones truly in control at Gallaudet, and that's a sad reflection on those whose responsibility it is to run the university. This is a shameful chapter, and one that portends further disruption, strife, and grandstanding. It's hard to say who comes off looking worse in this escapade, the spoiled children or the gutless officials. Either way it's a huge black eye for Gallaudet. How do you respect an institution where this sort of behavior is not only tolerated, but rewarded?

Posted by: Mark | October 30, 2006 8:47 AM

The student's aren't paying customers; they're more like inmates. They have a right to free speech; they don't have a right to shut down the university. Don't worry they're not going anywhere else. They'd have to compete and contend with the real world. They'll stay where they're coddled and catered to. Technology will fade the deaf culture.

Also, PJB, everyone under 40 is not stupid. Self-absorbed, spoiled and coddled, yeah, but not stupid.

Posted by: Stick | October 30, 2006 8:56 AM

Marc, you continue the paternalistic attitude towards people with disability. You seem to advocate for the fact that a flawed process (ignoring warning signals that Fernandes failed miserably during her 6 years as the Provost, choosing a deaf guy who has a Master's degree over a black deaf PHD candidate who was on the Gallaudet Board as its chair for 18 years, overwhelming non-support, etc) can't be a part of a protest that wants to "right" the process? If you need to direct the "wrong" to someone, its the Board of Trustees- not the students!

Posted by: GallyInsider | October 30, 2006 8:59 AM

I wish to congratulate the Board of Trustees for making a correct decision in rescinding their election of president-elect Fernandes and wish them to keep up the good decision and make the right one next time. I do not believe any future appointed president-elect of Gallaudet University should call deaf people stupid with a fourth grade-level education.

Posted by: Roger Sellers | October 30, 2006 9:02 AM

Congrats to the students - they held their ground and got what they want. But it's unbelievable to me that they're demanding now that they not be held accountable for shutting down the campus for weeks on end. I understand that most of them are all of 20, but they *have* to understand that there are consequences for their actions, right? Civil disobediance comes with a price. If it was free, then standing up for what you believe wouldn't be anywhere near as brave a thing to do. Do they think they'd have gotten off with no ramifications if they'd taken over a Wal-Mart for three weeks to protest labor practices? They need to accept the ramifications of their actions. That's the truly brave and mature thing to do. Otherwise, instead of brave protesters doing what they believe is right, they're just whiny kids whose parents pay the bills.

Posted by: Kate | October 30, 2006 9:04 AM

The board looks pretty weak to me at this point. The protest was against them and their decision, yet I don't recall them ever trying to engage the protesters or diffuse the situation. When they finally take action it is in a secret session, producing only a terse impersonal statement from The Board. Not even a press conference to put a face on the decision an answer some questions? The board had to either (a) give Fernandes their unwavering support and ask her to diffuse the situation, or (b) step in and diffuse it themselves. Fernandes had no power to diffuse the situation without the support of the board.

Posted by: Etin | October 30, 2006 9:09 AM

Your characterization of university students as paying customers is a poor choice of words and perpetuates a stereotype that erodes the value of the college experience. While some colleges and universities are run on a business model, there are some inherent differences. Businesses persist when they generate revenue, but colleges and universities provide a public service. Few public services are free and since our federal and state governments choose to underfund higher education, students pay tuition to cover some of the remaining expense. Colleges and universities are not Wal-Mart; the faculty at institutes of higher education are not in the business of dispensing product. They are trying to help students develop critical thinking skills and encouraging them to reach their own greatest potential. These skills are rarely developed in isolation and it takes hard work, motivation, and expert guidance to achieve such a level of self-awareness. Perhaps the "product" they are paying for is academic accountability, and in our society, colleges and universities recognize those who seek it. In turn, employers recognize those who have earned it.

As for your other comments, of course the students have the right to protest and exercise their rights to free speech. However, to what extent should students be involved in the selection of a college or university president? For one, presidents tend to hold their positions for longer than most students are in college. In addition, how much do students really know about the role of a college or university president? I know I sure didn't know what their real job was when I was a student. I had no justification for deciding how my school's highest administrator would be chosen.

Finally I have to ask, was there a student on the Presidential search committee. The inclusion of a student on the committee would give their arguments and opinions that much more credibility.

Posted by: Streamer | October 30, 2006 9:10 AM

It's too bad the editors of the Washington Post won't gather in a Northern Virginia hotel and cancel Marc Fisher's contract. They could save the money they pay him and still have the same content by running a simple text box that always says, if you aren't a straight, white, non-disabled, privileged male, shut up, you're wrong. That's all he ever says.

Posted by: Steve | October 30, 2006 9:15 AM

My mother was deaf since the age of two and, despite repeated attempts to become involved and friendly with deaf people, was treated like crap by the American Sign Language bigots because she was a lipreader. My mother lived a full and rich life and very much enjoyed her ability to interact with the rest of the world. Gallaudet and the loser students that attend the school can go to heck as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: Joe Hellner | October 30, 2006 9:15 AM


Agree with your column and I liked your earlier reporting on Jane Fernandez. The inmates are running the asylum.

A pedantic aside: When you are writing about deaf people, most of whom communicate by signing, is it accurate to characterize their protests as "vociferous", the trustees' support as "vocal", the student leaders as "loudest", the board as "silent", etc.?

Posted by: KK | October 30, 2006 9:31 AM

I competely agree with you, Marc. Ferndandes didn't do enough to bridge the gap, but the trustees have caved to intolerance and mob rule. This is a major hit for Gallaudet's reputation.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | October 30, 2006 9:32 AM

I second the comment above about tax money being used to support such a clearly inept institution. My questions are:

In the modern era, is there even a need for an institution like Gallaudet?

If so, should it be so heavily tax-supported/subsidized?

I, too, have never understood, from reading about this protest, why Dr Fernandes was such a monster that she deserved the public humiliation to which she was subjected -- first by the students, and finally by the university trustees. I think the place deserves a very intense review. I also would question the sanity of anyone now who would take the job as president!

Posted by: Selden | October 30, 2006 9:36 AM

Sorry, Marc, I just can't agree with your basic premise. Gallaudet may be a "tax-payer funded" institution, but the last time I looked the students at Gallaudet, and their parents, were taxpayers.

The students are NOT "inmates running the asylum," they are bona fide consumers of a service that should be theirs by right and not because the rest of us feel "charitable."

It's THEIR institution, not ours, not the impersonal "taxpayers,'" not the trustees,'but THEIRS. Whether they're right or wrong by moral or practical standards, I believe that it is theirs to govern, as they see fit, for their own benefit.

Posted by: Rocco | October 30, 2006 9:39 AM

I have no opinion on Fernandes and am not qualified to say if the students were right in their concerns about her. Certainly they have the right to express their opinion. But their demand for "no reprisals" is babyish and reminds me of everuthing I hate about today's coddled college students. They need to look at civil rights history and say, "We will stand up for what we believe in and accept whatever consequences that entails." Protests like theirs come with a risk and that's what makes them most meaningful.

Posted by: Alice | October 30, 2006 9:43 AM

"Streamer" argues that students deserve little or no input into the process of selecting a new president for a university. I find that position hard to defend. Wouldn't a deaf-mute senior with a high class ranking have better insights into the needs of Gallaudet compared to an outside board member such as Sen. John McCain? Students are sharp judges of character and their opinions should be respected.

Posted by: Orpenn | October 30, 2006 9:43 AM

Above, Steve says:

"It's too bad the editors of the Washington Post won't gather in a Northern Virginia hotel and cancel Marc Fisher's contract. "

Yeah, I hate it when people say things that I disagree with. That's just horrible.

No doubt Steve, you're one of the students "protesting". Stevie, let me give you a clue. When I went to college, I had no time to whine about the president. I was doing this thing called "studying" that seemed to take me about 6-8 hours a day. I realize that you may be in some gut program that lets you skate by, but perhaps other students are actually studying and doing less complaining about the president (all the while living off the taxpayer and parent's largess).

My only hope if that all of the idiots who were protesting are prosecuted and have to spend time in jail. But hey, you can talk behind the other inmates backs with your signing. The other inmates will be so amazed with your cleverness!

Posted by: Stew | October 30, 2006 9:43 AM

I think by now its clear that biggest failure at GU is the Board of Trustees itself. First they screw up the search process and then they compound the error by rewarding the petulant and radical children (I mean students) for their behavior. Why do I have to pay for this? The entire board needs to step down now.

Posted by: Disgusted Taxpayer | October 30, 2006 9:44 AM

It's pretty unfair to describe these as the "loudest" students--they're all deaf. Perhaps those students and alumni that were most dedicated? On top of that--if Fernandes was the wrong choice, how were the students and alumni wrong to protest?

Ferndandes lost me when she described the protesters as terrorists. That's just the kind of suppression of dissent that we should be fighting in this country, not lauding.

Posted by: James Hare | October 30, 2006 9:45 AM


How did it become the students' institution? When did they put up the money to buy the buildings or to pay the salaries? Their tuition pays less than a third of the cost and their taxes pay zip percent of the cost. They do not have a "right" to anything.

The students are stakeholders. They deserve a seat at the table. But they come and they go and they are not the owners. The Board of Trustees has the ongoing responsibility to represent all the stakeholders and the college's reputation, not just the strident students.

Posted by: KK | October 30, 2006 9:46 AM


Who are the three Congressional representatives on the board?

Posted by: Springfield, VA | October 30, 2006 9:50 AM

Gallaudet is now seen as just a deaf club running a popularity contest. Its sad. Fernandes could have insituted much-needed change. But this is what the long-entrenched faculty fears. My BA from Galladuet has been devalued but I am glad my MA is from another school. Gallaudet runs on $150,000,000 per year, mostly courtesy of the Federal Government. It seems like it is time for Congress to step in and direct those monies to programs that provide serious education to deaf people as opposed to the "deaf club" that Gallaudet actually is.

Posted by: GallyAlum | October 30, 2006 9:51 AM

It is rather unfortunate that the university board capitulated to these unruly students. They were so selfish that they disrupted the learning of younger boys and girls in the elementary and high schools co-located in the campus. When has it been true that we get what we desire for leadership. If we all do, there would be disorderliness everywhere. Do workers shutdown their workplaces when an unfavorable manager is appointed? Do the soldiers who do not believe in his administrative techniques refuse to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan because Donald Rumsfeld is the Secretary of Defense? Do the professional athletes refuse to play their games because over-bearing coaches are appointed to coach them. NO to all these posers.

These "children" of Gaulladet better get it that they will not always get their way on the job or in real life if they refuse to grow up. At least I have seen one of the university's graduates being fired from a good job because he just refused to follow simple instructions on the job. A clear demonstration of insubordination as just demonstrated by the students of this university for the past several months. A disability is not an excuse for disorderliness.

Posted by: Olu | October 30, 2006 9:52 AM

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) and Rep. Lynn C. Woolsey (D-Calif.).

Posted by: Fisher | October 30, 2006 9:53 AM

GU should be privatised, period!

Relocate the undergraduate campus to the sunny climes of Southern California where it can co-exist with the other fun-schools.

Retain and support the professional and graduate programs at GU. They are outstanding and give value for tax dollars.

As for the elementary and middle schools, I dont have an answer.

A truly ASL environment would ironically need new technology. As for cochlear implants, I do hope they become cheaper and then the millions of kids will benefit and thus become productive members of society.

Posted by: A Deaf Audist | October 30, 2006 9:53 AM

KK asks: "A pedantic aside: When you are writing about deaf people, most of whom communicate by signing, is it accurate to characterize their protests as 'vociferous', the trustees' support as 'vocal', the student leaders as 'loudest', the board as 'silent', etc.?"

In a word: yes. These usages are just as metaphorical when discussing deaf people who sign as they are when discussing hearing people who speak.

Posted by: walk left, stand right | October 30, 2006 9:54 AM

I have no respect for Gallaudet or its trustees. They caved in the face of what amounts to an overblown temper tantrum. The students don't like the president-elect? SO WHAT!?!?! Guess what folks, most universities don't give their students veto power over the choice of president. Further, in "the real world" (which Gallaudet apparently is not) unpopular decisions are made all the time.

The students have never, ever given a consistent or good reason for why they didn't like Fernandez. The student that was on the Post a week or so ago used enough rhetoric to fill a hot air balloon.

The "deaf culture" -as I often see it referred to -- cannot have it both ways. They cannot demand to be treated like "equals" with the hearing while also demanding special privileges. What they received here was a special privilege. It is shameful.

ANd, yes, I believe that the students should be disciplined. I hope that they are.

Posted by: JS | October 30, 2006 10:03 AM

The students got what they asked for but what is it that they want?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 10:04 AM

Joe Hellner, there are plenty of deaf people who sign and lipread. In fact, even deaf people who can't lipread can lipread exactly one question-- "can you lipread?"
There are jerks everywhere. When I was watching TV growing up, I noticed Letterman and other comics making fun of people because they talk funny.
Do you think I ever wanted to open myself up to that kind of ridicule I knew was inevitable in the world over my speech?
You can't point fingers at any one group and not realize you're pointing 3 fingers right back at yourself.

In the modern era, there will always be a need for Gallaudet. There are simply not enough qualified interpreters out there to give every student a competent education at a mainstream university.

A large part of the problem can be found at

At the bottom, you find a bald statement that all offical correspondence, etc. to the Board of Trustees must go through the presidents' office.

I checked, and at other universities, the BoT has their own mailbox, secretary, even e-mail address.
They do not have the president or anybody reporting to the same president in a position to censor their mail.

Secondly, most of those people were invited by IKJ. Only 1/3 of them are actually connected directly to Gallaudet (alumni, etc.). A few more have relatives who atteneded Gallaudet, but that doesn't mean they have ever experienced the university themselves.
That means they have very little knowledge basis on to contradict or find holes in the president's assertions about the university.
There are also evidence of kickbacks; one board of trustees' firm was hired to audit Gallaudet.

So yes, I want to see an overhaul of the system. There is no logical reason why Fernandes should have been the only qualified finalist, assuming the BoT got all the facts.

As we know, the likelihood is that the BoT has not gotten all the facts, and hasn't for the last 18 years.

In addition, IKJ blatantly named Fernandes as provost and awarded her tenure without the normal review. The structure of law and order started to fall apart 6 years. 2 murders didn't help, either.

Everybody has a focus on the students as being immature. They camped out for over 2 weeks in cold weather, they went on hunger strikes, they had to hear Fernandes painting them as violent, anarchists, and terrorists.

I'd say this has been a maturing experience, however it started out. They now have a lot of motivation to learn more about politics, organizations, and all the things that went into this mess, and to seek out more leadership training.

For life, they will continually think about what could have been done better, and their attitudes will change over time as they mature. A lot of people would hate to be labelled forever for what they did at age 18, I bet.

As for Fernandes being a monster: Yeah, the inital outcry was very bad. It could have been handled and simmered down with some actual leadership. She has a knack of being inconsiderate to others that does not fly well in crisis situations.

Business psychologists indicate that the further up you go on the management ladder, the more problems you have are people problems.

A CEO may spend 90% of his time resolving people problems, who should be teamed with what, whom to promote, how to improve the organization to avoid management by intimidation or excess politics.

Let's face it. She should have forseen and forestalled this protest because it was her job to do so. Pure and simple.

And I don't know, I think her talking about herself so much did more harm than what the protestors did. It'd have been nice if she had been honest-- "oh, I'm not popular because they didn't like how I was appointed provost in the first place."

Instead she had to paint herself as a major symbol of an imaginary struggle in the deaf community. She did a LOT of harm to the reputation of the deaf from the start. Maybe she truly believed that, but if so, she needs to get some real common sense about people.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 10:06 AM

The inmates are truely ruling the asylum. I would like to see all government assistance that isn't available to other secondary educational institutions eliminated immediately. I also hope that Dr. Fernandes decides to take civil and / or criminal action against those that threatened her and her family. Students, regardless of how important they think they are, do not have the right to claim ownership to a publicly funded institution.

Posted by: Inmates Rule | October 30, 2006 10:15 AM

What happens to Fernandes now? Was she fired from her position as provost also? Whether she was or not, it would be terribly tough to go back to dealing with vicious faculty who obviously hate her guts.

Posted by: jib | October 30, 2006 10:19 AM

Can someone explain to me how someone can possibly be 'not deaf enough'? Because they lipread and didn't learn how to sign until they were adults?

It seems clear to me that the whole idea of a 'deaf' college should be reexamined. We have more technology now that can help those that are deaf to integrate more easily into the rest of the 'real' world.

If these protesters weren't deaf, what would have happened instead?
The high school I went to, (circa 1984), we had a blind student, and he sat with us in every class; went to all the school activities, and partied with the rest of us. I'm not sure where (or if) he went to college; but I know he enjoyed being like, and with everyone else. Why so different if you are deaf?
Those kids, and they are kids, need to grow up, and realize you don't always get what you want. Look at our 'president': think I like that idiot?

Posted by: Confused | October 30, 2006 10:20 AM

This school should be shut down or privatized. The inmates are running the place and a joke.

Posted by: Snuf | October 30, 2006 10:21 AM

Orpenn wrote:
"Wouldn't a deaf-mute senior with a high class ranking have better insights into the needs of Gallaudet compared to an outside board member such as Sen. John McCain? Students are sharp judges of character and their opinions should be respected."

Everyone's opinion should be respected, but not all can effectively judge character and for that matter character might not determine how effective a person is in their role. Perhaps the hypothetical student you describe might be one of those people who can ascertain some of the needs of the university and I would suggest including that student on the search committee. In fact, a presidential search committee should include representatives from the faculty, staff, and student body at the very least. Members of the search committee have access to all of the application materials and based on their inclusion on the committee should understand the needs of the university. The board (including Sen. McCain as you highlighted) should merely approve the decision to hire individuals scrutinized by the search committee.

Posted by: Streamer | October 30, 2006 10:25 AM

Wilbrod writes "[Jane Fernandez] did a LOT of harm to the reputation of the deaf from the start" However, he has only to read these comments to see that the majority of the post's community seems to have had their view of the "deaf community" tarnished by the actions of the students. They are the group that denied other students access to learning and paralyzed the institution. They are the ones throwing around terms like "not deaf enough" and the ideas that lip reading is somehow a second rate skill. I would feel perfectly confident saying that the majority of hearing people never thought of a deaf community as being wholey separate from the rest of the world before this debacle. The students created the divide and the previous comments do seem to bear this out. If public perception is what you're worried about- this protest set the university back light years.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 10:34 AM

Be careful for what you wish for. I guess the students will be against anyone who has to make tough decisions and somebody has to be the hammer in any organization. What will the students and faculty do when the new president decides on an issue that the mob disagrees with? Who would want this job now anyway? I agree - the students and faculty have done irrevocable damage to this institution, but they don't seem to care. Enjoy your tactical victory - you have lost the strategic battle.

Posted by: Part1776 | October 30, 2006 10:48 AM

Gallaudet receives 70% of its funding from the US taxpayer (down from 100% in prior years). With this money, they don't seem to be doing much. Gallaudet is rated as Ineffectual by the US Office of Management and Budget in carrying out its stated missions. In one OMB finding, Gallaudet graduates who find employment commensurate with their education declined from 90% in 2001 to 69% in 2005. A recent survey of Gallaudet graduates, cited in a Post op-ed piece by a Gallaudet graduate last week, found that 80% believed that Gallaudet did a good job of helping its students find their way in the deaf culture, but only 40% believed that Gallaudet did a good job of preparing them for a career. Hypothesis: Gallaudet is taxpayer-funded adult daycare for the hearing impaired.

Posted by: Tim | October 30, 2006 10:54 AM

In which part of Deaf Culture does it say that you should *burn in effigy* the person whom you want to see removed from their official post? If being Deaf is being in a culture, then its members should accept the responsibilities of a culture and not just the advantages. How do you think the public would react to a school full of white students burning in effigy their unwanted black president? It's just sickening and sad.

Posted by: CallMeSkeptical | October 30, 2006 10:54 AM

The Students are now in control of the University and have imposed a litmus test for anyone in the administration. You have to be "deaf enough" AND advocate a total withdrawel from the hearing world. I'm not sure I want my federal tax dollars to support that kind of world.

Posted by: Colorado Kool Aid | October 30, 2006 10:55 AM

Confused is absolutely right. Blind people don't act like the deaf. They don't pull this separatist, identity-politics crud. The students of Galludet are a disgrace.

Posted by: stegman | October 30, 2006 10:59 AM

"--" No... you miss the point. Those people were REPORTED AS SAYING THIS by the PR machine fed to the media by the Gallaudet Administration.

"They are the ones throwing around terms like "not deaf enough" and the ideas that lip reading is somehow a second rate skill."

No... Fernandes claimed the issue was she was not "deaf enough".

Lipreading is fine, but even the best lipreaders can't do more than 30% accuracy without any hearing to aid. Some lipreaders attain 60% to 80% accuracy with the aid of residual hearing (any better than that, and the hearing loss has to be very mild).

Cued Speech was specifically designed because lipreading simply doesn't give enough information.

Many people I know who grew up oral with more than a certain level of hearing loss developed dysfunctional communication strategies designed to make sure they didn't have to try and lipread so much.

Lipreading is a good skill, but it is a TOUGH skill. Most of the time the person is guessing at what the other person is saying. This is ok for the usual cliched conversations, but difficult to really follow the punchlines of jokes, for instance, because by definition those are unexpected.

You can have people who have done very well growing up oral who STILL want to experience communication without barriers that is truly 2-way.
Fernandes was one such, and so were maybe 1/3 of the people who didn't like her.

And if lipreading is so great, plug your ears and try it for one day and see how well you do.
You'll probably do better than a deaf child who has to learn the language he is attempting to lipread with such fluency at the same time.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 11:00 AM

What's especially ironic is the students saying that now that they've assassinated Fernandes, a "fair and equitable" search can begin. Apparently some Gally students do make in the real world--doing marketing for

Posted by: EColi | October 30, 2006 11:06 AM

Who said this was about separatist politics? THE ADMINISTRATION.

And the blind differ because they are fully able to communicate with others, but are significantly impaired in their mobility. Deaf people are not.

The deaf people are very able to do virtually anything, but they are not fully able to participate fully in communication and society because they are lacking in the ability to receive and express language normally.

Have you ever sat at a party and considered yourself grateful for 1-2 people to talk to you-- ALL day? Have you ever gone home from a family gathering with the worst case of depression ever, because you spent all day reading because everybody was too busy to talk to you after a few minutes with pen and paper? Even lipreading can be hard work for very long.

Before you complain deaf people are separate, ask yourself, are they included?

What are they supposed to do, rot in social isolation beyond human imagining instead of seek out a way to communicate freely with others who are on their same level?

You can't compare the blind with the deaf for so many reasons. The blind have the best political advocacy of all disabled people in many ways.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 11:09 AM

"Wouldn't a deaf-mute senior with a high class ranking have better insights into the needs of Gallaudet compared to an outside board member such as Sen. John McCain?"

John McCain understands the demands of fundraising and overseeing complex budgets and agendas in a way that very few students at any institution do. The students deserve a voice on the Board of Trustees, but they should by no means be allowed to shout down everyone else, including those who just might have a better sense of what the office requires and what can reasonably be expected from whoever holds it than they do.

I hope whoever replaces Fernandes has a backbone of steel. He or she's going to need it.

Posted by: fs | October 30, 2006 11:11 AM

It's not ironic, EColi. Anybody who knows anything about deaf education knows that Fernandes wasn't the most qualified person that applied, nor the only one competent enough to lead Gallaudet.

I think IKJ should resign today. Michael Moore as the interim provost has done far more to calm the situation than either Fernandes or IKJ has.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 11:14 AM

It sounds more like an life-time social institution rather than a place to prepare students to operate in the world. What next, a segregated state where only the deaf can live?

Just shut it down.

Posted by: Dave | October 30, 2006 11:16 AM

Don't worry, a lot of people have backbones of steel, fs. The key is that the person, by default, will do far better than Fernandes has.

I'm somewhat more concerned about the historical stranglehold the administration imposed on ANY students' meetings with the board of trustees.

There is simply too much power given to the president to manipulate the BoT and block any possiblity of dissenting input.
This protest should never had to happen.

Yeah, you'd have people complaining no matter who was picked, but they'd be told to be grown-ups and go back to class.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 11:18 AM

Ok, Wilbrod. You seem to imply that the Administration spin doctors have put out all this negative PR about the protesters. What were their real issues then? Why was compromise not an option?

Posted by: Part1776 | October 30, 2006 11:20 AM

Trying to tread lightly here, because I am an ardent supporter of people's making their views known and because -- full disclosure here -- Wilbrod and I actually know each other (it's a woman, btw) and have broken bread together, including in my home. It's much harder to disagree with people you actually know and like.

But there it is. Whatever her failings as a leader or as a human being, Jane Fernandes was chosen by the group of people whose business it was to make that decision(not because she was the "only qualified finalist" but because the BoT believed her the "best qualified").

Whether that process was inherently flawed because the BoT is a rubber-stamp for the president, I cannot say. But if this flawed process had yielded a result more to the students' liking (the black guy with the PhD or whatever), would the students have taken to the streets? I doubt it.

This is the danger that playing identity politics can lead to. Eighteen years ago, protestors demanded the removal of a perfectly qualified candidate chosen by the Board and her replacement with a "deaf president now." They got their way. King Jordan, who had been quietly lobbying behind the scenes for the top job, got it. Who now can claim to be surprised if he turns out to be unaccountable and untransparent?

I can only raise my eyebrows in amazement at Marc Fisher's characterization that Jane Fernandes "failed utterly to engage with the people opposed to her." How, precisely, should she have engaged with people who were burning her in effigy, threatening her and her family, and slandering her?

And how could the fault be hers for "talking about herself so much," Wilbrod, when one of the few coherent things the protestors actually said was that it *was indeed* "all about her?" In fact, whenever she did try to broaden the discussion beyond herself to talk about technological advances changing the deaf community, the sense of threat with which many react to those advances, the unhealthy insularity of Gallaudet's culture, the furious reaction was always, "Stop trying to change the subject! This is about you!"

I agree that her choice of the word "terrorists" was over the top. But the students' actions *did* amount to lawlessness and anarchy. It should be a major wake-up call to all of us who through our taxes fund this place that such tactics were crowned with success.

To be honest, I never gave much of a thought to Gallaudet, even though it's right up the street from my house, until these developments. Now it has my full attention, which I think is true for a lot of other previously oblivious people.

The students may like the consquences of such newfound attention. Then again, they might not.

Posted by: annie | October 30, 2006 11:20 AM

Don't worry, Dave, it's a place to prepare students for the world. It's true that many people never want to leave the world of Academia. But professional students and 8-year graduates also exist in the hearing world, as well.

It is a nice campus rich in history. Civil War hospital tents were set up on Kendall Green, and the first telegraph wire was laid across it. The architecture are national historical landmarks.

The library has the largest deaf history archives anywhere, full of historical documents from the 1800's.

It has a lot of modern technology that deaf people attending mainstreamed colleges would never learn about, see, nor use to help them learn how to assimilate into the world. Again, tuition + interpreter costs would be far more expensive than Gallaudet alone.

It should be possible to oversee and change the operations without having to shut down the whole campus for good.

That's a "shoot the dog" type of solution.

Gallaudet University has been working on its own endowment so it can cut free from federal aid. That was one of the goals of the IKJ administration, to be financially independent, so the taxpayers like you wouldn't complain about this.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 11:26 AM

I'm not surprised at most of your attitudes towards us, the Deaf community. Even in 21st century, it's sad that we still see ignorance by readers like you. "Deaf-mutes"? I had to chuckle because that label is long gone. It's like calling African-Americans "negroes" and "coloreds", terms from the mid 20th century. We don't consider ourselves a disabled group or whatever you want to call us. We consider ourselves as an ethnic group.
You still don't get it? That's okay. We don't care anyway because people like you will never understand us.

For those of you didn't understand why we, "inmates", protested. I'm helping you lazy and closed minded people by copying and pasting the points from the website of

If you think you're educated, then I have hope for you.


It's not about individuals, it's about social justice.
We need to be free from oppression on campus, and to be viewed as being equals. This includes demonstrating respect for all views and perspectives, and also showing civility at all times. The lack of social justice has contributed to the low campus morale and the President-Elect has done not enough to improve that the past 6 years as Provost.

The role of President at Gallaudet University is seen as being more than just a university administrator, it involves the role of ambassador for the international Deaf and hard of hearing community.
Gallaudet stands alone in its uniqueness. Gallaudet is the direct line of understanding between the hearing world and the international deaf and hard of hearing community. The president has to be able to be the "face of Gallaudet" by being approachable and being a leader who empathizes and shall advocate for the deep-set values of the community.

We resent the president's office's divisive actions this week.
Dr. Jane K. Fernandes has been going around campus trying to increase her number of supporters, rather than addressing directly the concerns of FSSA. The president's office is oppressing the students and staff's right to protest by giving MPD the permission to use full force on students and threatening staff about their involvement. Another tactic she has used include not providing interpreters as a university service and denying access to buildings, and e-mail privileges while allowing her supporters full access. A leader should not divide! This has proved her inability to be an effective leader of the university.

There are too many unanswered questions regarding the role of the president's office in the search process and the inclusiveness of diversity and the community perceptions.
There must be a new search process that is inclusive, fair and free of any appearances of interference or manipulation. This includes the progress from the beginning to the end. The Coalition of Organizations for Students of Color has recognized this from Day One, and we have united as one, for as the bottom line, the process was flawed and has failed us.

We care deeply about Gallaudet and its future. This protest is to save Gallaudet from low academic expectations and exclusionary university practices.

The Faculty, Students, Staff, and Alumni (FSSA) care deeply about Gallaudet University and its future. We are comprised of people from all walks of life. We protest Dr. Fernandes' selection because there are candidates better qualified to lead the University, and because the administration has yet to examine the underlying issues of our discontent. We do not take issue with her for "not being deaf enough" but for being deaf to us, the community that she would be serving.

We want for the search process to be reopened, meaning that Dr. Fernandes would resign, and that people who have been engaging in protests do not face retaliatory action. We also want to Board of Trustees to immediately come to Gallaudet to resolve this crisis.

Dr. Fernandes' track record at Gallaudet makes her unfit for promotion:

As the administrator responsible for the University's academic performance, Gallaudet was rated "Ineffective, primarily due to inadequate progress in achieving its annual and long-term performance goals in the key areas of persistence, graduation, and post-school outcomes."-
The percentage of Gallaudet bachelor's degree graduates who either find employment commensurate with their training and education or attend advanced education or training programs during their first year after graduation fell from 90% in 2001 to 69% in 2005-
According to current employees at the K-12 program (Clerc Center), Dr. Fernandes created an atmosphere of distrust and fear, proved ineffectual as a leader and damaged the infrastructure of the program, and ignored teachers and staff.-
Dr. Fernandes does not support diversity

The problem is not in her proficiency of ASL, but that when she has been in positions of authority she has not fostered environments in which people who use ASL were accommodated.
Teachers and staff were not fluent enough in ASL to communicate with students, limiting students' ability to learn in the classroom.
Gallaudet needs a leader who will embrace diversity and make sure that everyone here feels supported.
Protest started when people of color objected to the search process.

In a flawed search process, a white male without a PhD became a finalist over a black male with a Ph.D.
Fernandes does not have a following.

On April 27, 2006 an undergraduate poll showed that 81% did not support her appointment as presidential candidate.
On October 16, 2006, she received an 82% faculty vote of no confidence as president-designate.
On October 16, 2006, the University alumni association called for her resignation and for the Board of Trustees to step in to resolve the crisis.
On September 20, 2006, the Student Body Government voted not to recognize her as president-designate.
The Administration and the Board of Trustees are deaf to campus/public outcry and engage in tactics to divert from the real issues surrounding the crisis.

The administration has blatantly mischaracterized University faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the deaf community. By not stepping in, the Board is deaf to administrative smear campaign tactics.
The administration is spending large amounts of money to spin protesters in a negative light instead of addressing the reasons that protests are occurring. They have also been spending money on private security and video surveillance to intimidate protesters.
This is money that is coming from tax payers and from tuition. Congress should investigate if this is an abuse of tax payer money
The Board and the administration are deaf to campus and public outcry on the crisis, including open letters by prominent leaders and organizations.
This crisis is all about leadership effectiveness - the Board did not take into account the president designate's past performance as Provost or Vice President.
The University has left those who care about it with no choice other than to engage in protests.

Posted by: mustangdmg | October 30, 2006 11:34 AM

Sounds like a nice candidate for a park and National Historic Landmark. :-)

Just what is the per-student cost of the place? If the federal-government already provides funding for interpreters at colleges, why insulate?

Frankly, I'm concerned regarding the "deaf enough" idea, as well as what seems to be a movement to draw-inward and reject any deaf-treatments as against "deaf culture"...just what IS that anyway?

I remember that during my university days, it really didn't make much difference to anyone who the college president was...they had little impact or NO impact on the student's education.

I just don't understand, I guess.

Posted by: Dave | October 30, 2006 11:36 AM

The deaf community has long known that Gallaudet is NOT an academic institution. 40% grad rate.

The Rochester Institute of Technology for the Deaf- 70% grad rate. Check their web site for the roster of companies recruiter. Many ranging from small companies to multi-nationals.

Posted by: Ron in DC | October 30, 2006 11:39 AM

I influence hiring decisions at a major area firm. I was very impressed listening (yes, listening - she's very articulate) to a recent NPR interview of Ms. Fernandes. Her work at Galludet and previously at Hawaii and Iowa (I believe) go a long way in burnishing the reputation of the Deaf. That reputation remains intact in my mind, however the value of a Galludet degree just took a huge hit thanks to the protesters and now the BOT. Where I work at we follow the letter and spirit of the ADA, but for me seeing Galludet on a resume will now be a very big negative in my evaluation.

Posted by: HR | October 30, 2006 11:39 AM

The deaf community has long known that Gallaudet is NOT an academic institution. FACT- 40% grad rate.

The Rochester Institute of Technology for the Deaf- 70% grad rate. Check their web site for the roster of companies recruiter. Many ranging from small companies to multi-nationals.

Posted by: Ron in DC | October 30, 2006 11:41 AM

40% grad-rate? What's the story on that?

Posted by: Dave | October 30, 2006 11:46 AM

The Board showed about as much spine as a rubber chicken in this mess - they were cowed into reneging on their initial decision because the students threw a tantrum. I don't want to paint the entire student body with a broad brush, but based on what I see as a resident of the neighborhood south of Gallaudet, many of the students are sheltered and infantile kids who are accustomed to getting their way by using their disability as an excuse for behavior that would not be tolerated at any education level. If they choose to shut down the campus and waste their tuition money, fine. But let's not pretend that this was some enormously principaled protest.

Posted by: arclight | October 30, 2006 11:47 AM

Yes. in 1988, we thought making the BoT 51% deaf or hard of hearing or having a deaf president would safeguard our concerns. That turned out to be extremely naive. The structure of Gallaudet itself needed fixing.

The 3 "problems"-- racism, audism, and management by intimidation, can be laid to flaws in organization. I thought about how Gallaudet can improve and I see some problems:

1) The people are not fully cognizant of their rights, whom to contact for any problems.

For instance, in my first semester at gallaudet, I received some hate mail from classmmates. I didn't know at that time it was illegal and I could have reported this to the network administrator and gotten the student in trouble. I talked to the teacher and she told me it was inappropriate, but never told me what I could do.

Information needs to be disclosed in brochures and various quick-reference materials to freshman, with the message: you can talk to those people and get help.

The website needs to be better organized to guide students to whom they should talk to, and RAs and other first-line student support service be fully trained in referral and listening to students.

There also needs to be leadership to make people a focus. Fernandes historically did not provide that.

I heard from a woman who was sexually assaulted, then gotten no supprot and then got in trouble for violating the honor code because of suicidal behavior. The student transferred elsewhere and saw the huge difference in services provided, and the sheer concern for her.

2) No independent channel such as an EEO office in business to handle such complaints and document them independently of all efforts by managers to demolish such evidence.
All too often, such complaints have to go through the management, or to their immediate superiors, who are going to be spun a different story. This holds true all the way up to the Board of Trustees.

3) Uniform consistent message that discriminatory practices or "overinterpreting" the rules to deny students services will be disciplined.

For instance, a friend of mine went to MSSD and she was denied awards and honors she deserved, she worked hard to be a good student, she was active. The reason given was that she was a smoker and therefore not a good role model.

She said, hey, quitting is hard, she was from a family of heavy smokers, she'd have appreciated some help and counseling, not to have been made to feel worthless by having her awards stolen because she was a smoker.

I was outraged because that would never have happened at my mainstream HS.

4) the awareness of availablity of multiple channels of information, welcoming students to report any problems with faculty or staff for better perspectives.

Those problems won't go away because somebody or other is the president. They will go away only with a serious focus on reorganizing the organization culture to be more in line with what a professionally run university should be, intensive training about positive ways to solve problems.

If that requires federal oversight, or melding of Gallaudet with another university, so be it.

I want Gallaudet to last and be strong and do what it is supposed to do-- not tear down deaf students and make them feel disempowered to take action for their own futures.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 11:47 AM

If students are just a university's "customers," couldn't the freshman class at Harvard stage a protest and get their entire curriculum changed to non-academic courses that required no work. Or make all the courses participatory sex-ed classes?

They'd still get the Harvard degree, but not have to put any effort into it. Should this not be their choice, since they are "customers?"

Wonder what other choices the "customers" would like to make at their colleges? Beer coming out of water taps? Classes taught by Hooters girls? Hey -- anyone wanna open up such place with me? The customer is always right!

Posted by: Dennis B | October 30, 2006 11:52 AM

Amen to Wilbrod's comments. I can only say that I am proud to be a part of the deaf community even though I can hear some and speak well enough to be considered hearing. The hearing population has no idea of the oppression we face every day in our lives unless they walk a mile in our shoes. Deafness is can't tell us apart unless you start speaking to us and we don't respond. From the get go, there was a problem with the BOT and the Administration and I hope there will be changes made with the way the BOT functions and those who function as "rubber stampers" will no longer serve on the board. Good luck to Gallaudet, I know they will come through and it will, once again, be a great place to be. If anyone learned from this protest, perhaps they would wake up and realize that, we the people, could do something about our own government! A proud alumnus and retired from Gallaudet.

Posted by: Elsha | October 30, 2006 11:52 AM

HR, you shouldn't do that, without looking at the full resume first.

I don't care what the ADA says, I can tell you firsthand that Gallaudet University is full of people of ALL backgrounds, and this year is not representative of all the alumni that have graduated from Gallaudet even 10 years ago.

Despite what Fernandes says, Gallaudet has a very diverse student body from many countries of all levels of handicaps, oralist, cochlear implants, and other backgrounds. I befriended many people with multiple handicaps at Gallaudet and international students.

I urge you, to make your judgment based on the rest of your resume.

I'm a Gallaudet alumni, and I always found it hard enough to find work even without this event. I've had phone calls that violated the ADA. I can still remember calling one company and the woman screamed at me "we don't want you, you're deaf, we don't have jobs for you."

Please think about that very hard. There is a reason why you do interviews of prospective applicants, and that's to get a sense of those applicants.

There are lawyers, bankers, priests, vice presidents, CEOs, editors, writers, filmmakers, librarians, etc. that are Gallaudet graduates.

I can't believe that you would think it is appropriate to stereotype people based on a single affilation. Gallaudet University is not the KKK, no matter what Fernandes claims.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 11:57 AM

What is an "oralist"?

Posted by: Dave | October 30, 2006 12:00 PM

Ron in DC, It's the National Technology Institute of the Deaf, and it is a 2 year college.
Many graduates later go to Gallaudet because they are dissatisfied with their lack of career advancement with only an AAS.
For 4-year degrees, the students then mainstream in RIT classes.
Your contributions would be more meaningful if you got the names right. Thanks.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 12:01 PM

To "annie":

My understanding(from sources in the administration) is that the so called "threats" never really happened. It's another example of Dr. Fernandes(and the administariton's) handling of the news media. In fact, the coalition (FSSA)repeatly tried to get her to call the proper authorities to report those "threats". She, apprently, never did reported the threats. My own take is that it was another spin by Fernandes to try to direct attention off her. Also, from my propective, the real issues was her lack of understanding the issues, and her average record as a provost. OMB, for example, (last year, I believe) published a report that gave Gallaudet a failing mark-and many of the areas were Fernandes responsiblities. She never wanted to discused the issues that the FSSA colaition kept asking her to discused-instead using the "Deaf Card" issue to influme the passions of the Deaf Community. You can asked anyone invloved in the protest ( I was not involved-other than to study the issues) and they will tell you of many many times that she and President I. King Jordan has lied to the media and to the faculty. Example: She(Fernandes) was qouted in the Washington Post as saying that she "was up all night" talking to the students about the takeover of HMB. I can tell you that that was not ture. I know this beacuse I have friends instead the President office. There are a lot of other examples where she and Dr. Jordan has lied.

Also, 82 % of the faculty voted against her (Ph.D's and all). Alumni and staff also did not want her there.

Hope this help clearify some of the issues.

Posted by: Rap1234 | October 30, 2006 12:10 PM

Three comments:
(1) The Board has badly compromised its ability to make future decisions that might be controversial.
(2) What competent university administrator would be willing to accept this position now and who will ever listen to him or her under these circumstances? and
(3) The protesters gain nothing and lose much by staining the institution's reputation for integrity so badly.

The community will have to live with these (unintended) consequences for a very long time. Win a battle and lose a war.

Posted by: C. F. Treat | October 30, 2006 12:11 PM

Dave, oralism is the philosophy promulgated by Alexander Graham Bell and his association.

Oralism is the philosophy that deaf people should not be taught sign or any kind of visual language because it will detract from the focus on learning how to lipread and speak.

For a while there, some educators refused to teach deaf how to read and write until they had learned how to speak. As a result, many deaf people underwent many years of torture and insufficent education.
The stories I have heard of deaf people of the baby boomer generation are graphic, punishment of gesture in any form whatsoever.
One lovely lady I knew didn't even have any language or education after many years in an oralist school until she was finally sent to a school that used sign. She described it as a helen keller moment to realize that a table had a name.

Note I am talking of "pure" oralism, which is a philosophy that is basically the equalivent of teaching people not to be blind by forcing them somehow to read by all means possible EXCEPT by using braille or raised letters or touching the page even.
Some legally blind people will, others are too blind to do so.

Now, many students who have mild to moderate hearing loss (often after they learned to speak) will be taught in the oralist tradition because their families are actually often in denial of their deafness, or because they've been told this is the ONLY way for their children.

These children may succeed well enough to remain oral and be alienated from being identified as deaf at all. Or in many case, they often come to sign language in HS or through other channels and they want more. They hear about Gallaudet and they decide to go there because they want to actually try a sign language mode that's made for them, or they simply learn directly from other deaf people.

In 1970's oralism finally fell sway to the philosophy of Total COmmunication, meaning educate the student in the mode that works. So now students were able to get both sign, speechreading and speech lessons, and get the education in what works for them. This is what I grew up with. I just never was much good at the speech part because I'm so deaf, I can't even hear people speaking at me at ALL. Most people aren't that deaf.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 12:12 PM

I have no personal opinion on Gallaudet and its troubles. It appears there are many and there will be an uphill fight to get the school moving forward. I have hopes that it will but only time will tell.

The larger problem that strikes me here is far from unique to the students in this case. I used to teach and would see this time and time again from my students. And, horrifyingly, it seems to be poorly understood by a large segment of this country.

It is this simply: Freedom of Speech does not mean Freedom From Consequences.

Unfortunately, many Americans of all ages, races, classes, socio-economic levels and disability seem to think that screaming "Freedom of Speech" is their 'get out of jail free' card.

Sure. The beautiful thing about the United States is that we have the right to say what we want. It can be wonderful, horrible, hatefilled or inspirational. Any of these. But at the same time, we have to be prepared to deal with the consequences of such freedoms. Once you put your "Free Speech" out there, people have a right to have "Free Speech" right back at you. And this is is the part that confuses people: they might not agree with you.

And you know what? They have that right too. A shame more Americans can't seem to get that through their heads.

Posted by: Sigh | October 30, 2006 12:14 PM

"In 1970's oralism finally fell sway to the philosophy of Total COmmunication, meaning educate the student in the mode that works."

How is it possible that 'do what works best for each student' is controversial at all? Isn't that the most obvious, most common-sense way to approach the problem? Is someone arguing *against* this approach?

Posted by: confused | October 30, 2006 12:16 PM

I think the system is broken and needs to be fixed. I think it IS possible.

I do agree that this has become a pyrrhic victory, thanks in part to the administration's reaction. I wasn't pleased with this protest when it started and I still have conflicted feelings about how they did it. But they had good cause.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 12:17 PM

The biased reporting, fed by the Gallaudet administration has ensured that many people are not to grips on this issue. Firstly, the deaf card was played to the hilt, when in fact many protestors and international supporters like myself have a similar background to Fernandes.

The fact that 14 presidents have resigned in the States in 2006, due to a vote of no confidence has been overlooked. This includes Harvard: the BoT and President-designate knew when to listen, and appropriate steps were taken. Deaf people instead are belittled, and the lack of listening from day one needs examining.

Furthermore, there is a need for a representational board, that is in touch with the community and society it serves. The recent crisis underlines this, and some examination needs to take place, as well as a long process of healing for all concerned.

Posted by: Alison | October 30, 2006 12:18 PM

So much for being a "good neighbor"....

Gallaudet University Guidelines for Expressive Activities and Assemblies

1) All demonstrations, marches, rallies or peaceful assemblies on campus must be registered[*]* with the appropriate unit responsible for the location requested (Registrar's Office, Campus Activities, Business Services, etc.) at least 2 business days in advance of the activity. This helps ensure that the organization has appropriate resources for its activity. In addition, advance notice ensures that there are no conflicts with other events at the same location, ensures that the sponsor of the activity will accept all responsibilities pertaining to sponsoring and supervising the event, and ensures that reasonable steps are taken to ensure that the use of scheduled facilities complies with all applicable policies and regulations. It also ensures that public area activities do not impede pedestrian or vehicular ingress to or egress from campus, and it ensures that the size and nature of the event are appropriate for the location.

2) Structures created for the purpose of free expression, other than those created by the University itself, may not remain on University property for an extended period of time. Temporary or symbolic structures, such as booths, tents, canopies, or similar objects or enclosures, may be placed on University property and may remain temporarily on campus, but they must be taken down and removed daily by a specific time, and the area removed of all debris and trash. The administration's actions toward the structures will be guided by attention to the following, or similar, kinds of campus community interests that structures could infringe upon:

Protecting health and safety;
Preventing damage or risk of damage to University property;
Preserving unimpeded mobility on pathways and streets, entrance to and departure from buildings, and unimpeded mobility within buildings;
Providing for competing uses of campus grounds;
Avoiding interference with other University activities;
Reasonably limiting costs to the University of increased Department of Public Safety protection, potential University liability, insurance coverage, and cleanup and repair after an event.

Limits on the duration, size, and location of structures or symbolic structures may also be based legitimately upon the desire to preserve campus aesthetic values.

3) The sponsoring organization/department must obtain a Structure Scheduling Form from Business Services and obtain approval prior to the erection of such structures. The sponsoring organization/department will be required to sign the agreement on the form pertaining to all responsibilities associated with the temporary structure, including the removal of such structure, and acceptance of responsibility for any injuries to persons or property caused by the temporary structure. The University reserves the right to deny a request to establish a structure and to request the removal of temporary structures that may be an unreasonable safety hazard or inflict unreasonable damage to landscaping.

4) Overnight camping is not allowed on University property. The use of any part of the campus for living accommodation purposes such as overnight sleeping (including the laying down of bedding for the purpose of sleeping), making a fire, or carrying on cooking activities is prohibited. The use of any tents, motor vehicles or other structures for sleeping is also prohibited.

5) Signs, posters, banners, and other materials may not be affixed to the interior or exterior of any University structure without permission from the appropriate facilities person or person with authority to grant such permission. Unauthorized postings, etc. will be removed and discarded by the University.

6) In furtherance of the educational, research, service, and other legitimate functions of the University, no part of the campus is generally available for organized activities after 11 p.m. and before 7 a.m. except for official University activities or organization activities with prior authorization.

7) During the calendar year noise or amplified music must be maintained at acceptable levels to avoid interference with classes or other University activities. In compliance with D.C. ordinances, noise must be kept at reasonable levels after 11 p.m. This allows for the usual and customary campus events to take place and at the same time supports the academic mission of the University, the University's intent to be a good neighbor with the surrounding D.C. community, and it observes applicable D.C. ordinances related to noise.

The University will take action through appropriate internal and/or external procedures against violators of these guidelines as well as other existing University policies and regulations. Actions taken may include the denial of approval of future requests for permission to use University property by the sponsoring organization/department. Any sponsoring organization or individual may be subject to all applicable sanctions for violations of these guidelines or other policies, rules, or regulations of the University.

Posted by: Tom | October 30, 2006 12:23 PM

I know, Confused. You'd think it'd be logical. But no, oralists believed in this idea with a near-religious fervour. Alexander Bell was wealthy and a third-generation speech teacher.

I want you to look up "the Milan Accord of 1880 deaf" in any search engine. This banned the use of sign in deaf education in most of Europe and America. Gallaudet was the ONLY hold-out against this accord.

Also read this from

"You need to understand the Milan Congress of 1880, which led to the official suppression, or outright banning, of signing in virtually every school for the deaf in the United States, the forcing-out of deaf people from the profession of teaching other deaf people, where they had served with distinction since Laurent Clerc began teaching at Hartford in 1817. And the misery inflicted on generations of these kids, who were deprived of both language and literacy. Sure, we've all read about the oral-deaf successes. We wonder about the thousands of kids whose biographies did not represent glowing success stories."

The truth is, we have only recently began to really research deaf education and child development as a science and tracking what works and it still is very colored by dogma, falsification of infomration, and claims.

Until the 1960's, ASL was not even "proved" to be an actual language. That's how good the suppression of sign as a subject of study was.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 12:24 PM

Afraid that the above description of oralism is out-dated.

90% of deaf children have hearing parents. If provided with the support services along with hard working parents, most do fine with digital hearing aids, even get academic qualifications in music among other things and go onto the big schools like Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Yale, Brown, Johns Hopkins, Univ Michigan, Berkeley etc. The same is true in other countries eg Australia and England.

Sadly a few fall thru the cracks because of abysmal support servcies.

But I have seen deaf kids with remarkably intelligible speech and believe they will do even better than me when they reach my age!

So oralism does work!

Posted by: An Oralist | October 30, 2006 12:29 PM

Not that outdated. Read my comparsion of oralism for the deaf as equalivent to making blind people read. Some will do better than others because they're not that blind to start with, and it helps even more if they used to see and know what letters are supposed to look like. If technology can help them see, fine.

If you add in any other kind of learning disability, bye-bye comprehension.

I personally worked with a deaf scientist who attended Harvard who grew up oralist, so for some it does work... but you can't say this comparsion is outmoded when I know at least 100 people who used to be oralist and prefer to have the dual experience of sign and speaking.

One person told me that after she attended her Gallaudet and learned to sign, her speech actually improved because she wasn't so incurably shy anymore.

And "support services" are limited, In many cases it consists of telling the teacher the kid is deaf, and to carry on as usual.

Digital hearing aids are very expensive, as well. I don't think all deaf people who need one and can use one even have one.

I know too many oralist friends for who oralism didn't work so well-- they can speak cuz they weren't born that deaf.

One of my best friends speaks VERY well because she is postlingually deaf. But she's working with the deaf for very good reasons.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 12:37 PM

The best known advocate of non-violent civil disobedience in this country was undoubtedly Dr. Martin Luther King. Along with the I Have a Dream speech, MLK's most famous words were probably his Letter From a Birmingham Jail. If Dr. King had asked for and gotten amnesty for his actions as the Gallaudet students demand, then he would have written a Letter From a Birmingham Motel, but somehow I don't think it would have had the same moral authority. Consequences, you see, can add force to your argument.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | October 30, 2006 12:37 PM

I like how just because the one candidate had a Ph.D. that he was magically more qualified than another candidate with just a Masters.

Come on guys, qualifications for jobs go past pieces of paper.

Posted by: Chris | October 30, 2006 12:39 PM

I've been reading with great interest about the ongoing situation at Galludet, and I must say I was shocked to read this morning that the BOT had withdrawn their appointment without setting up an interim president and/or clarifying how the new search committee would be structured. It seems like it's asking for trouble to leave such a void in leadership.
I can understand how Fernandes may not have been the ideal candidate for the position, but I firmly agree that in most cases, students may have a representative on the search committee, but they certainly don't get to stop all classes on campus for their school, two other academic institutions, block traffic from campus, take over public buildings and handpick their own preferred leader. At which other accredited higher education institution would this be considered acceptable?
I think it's a double-edged sword to say that on the grounds of Galludet being a center of deaf culture, that it's students don't have to comply with the behavioral codes consistent with college students. It may get them a temporary advantage during their school years, but if the goal of their education is to be on equal footing to compete for jobs outside the deaf community (which for practical purposes, most will do), then what service is it really to teach the lesson that BECAUSE you are deaf, you can choose not to follow the rules, and get a free pass based on your deafness? I thought that the point of the ADA was to create equal footing and respect for people, not condescend to them by acting like they "need" a free pass to slide by--like we're doing them a "favor" by hiring them. I don't know how Helen Keller/Annie Sullivan are currently viewed in the deaf community, but that's why Sullivan was an effective teacher--she made Keller understand that she had different communication skills, but she still had to be able to adapt her behavior to the standards of the outside world if she wanted to participate in it, not just throw a temper tantrum and expect the rest of the world to be understanding. In the long run, that may earn pity or sympathy, but not real respect.

Posted by: collegegrad | October 30, 2006 12:43 PM

Hi, Rap1234, and thank you for your message. Whether Jane Fernandes did or did not in fact receive threats against herself and her family, I of course am not in a position to know. But . . . neither are you.

It's a serious thing to call someone a liar in a public forum like a Washington Post discussion board unless you have more than the say-so of others to go on. If you were not yourself among the students in the HMB, then you do not know whether she was there "up all night" or not. You only have someone's word for that. You may believe that source to be more trustworthy than Fernandes. But you do not know from your own knowledge that she was lying. It's remarkable to me that you wouldn't let that stand in your way.

Whether she did or did not receive threats, it remains true that she was burned in effigy and was subjected to name-calling so outrageously disgusting that I was genuinely shocked, despite listening to 30+ years of coarsening public discourse.

Maybe you are right. Maybe she did a terrible job as provost and had no business to be promoted. But I still maintain that even assuming she was just the hand-picked crony of a corrupt president and a complacent Board, Gallaudet really has no one but itself to blame for having made King Jordan's deafness his ticket to the presidency 18 years ago.

Gallaudet made its own bed and must now lie in it.

And I must say, it makes me sad. I had some romanticized vision of Gallaudet as a thriving, healthy community with a unique educational mission to fulfill -- like all-women's colleges -- not one that I personally shared, but one I was nevertheless glad to have around, overseen by the thoughtful competitive marathoner, champion fundraiser, wise paterfamilias.

Oh, well.

Posted by: annie | October 30, 2006 12:43 PM

It's not surprising that many of you who can hear view Gallaudet as an university where deaf and hard-of-hearing students can manipulate the administration to decide who should lead. I can understand that, but you have to remember that Gallaudet is not just an university - it's a symbol of their culture - not just for the American deaf community, but internationally as well. Like someone previously said, the leader is not only an administrator who have climbed up the corporate ladder, but an "ambassador" for the deaf culture across the world. That's a rare and unique position for a university president - so you can't really compare this position to other university presidents. Gallaudet missed that one and it bit them in the ass. As for the Board of Trustees, the members are so divisive - you have those who can hear who doesn't know sign language and you have those who are deaf who cannot speak or lipread and they have conflicting views. So, it was a power battle since the beginning and they made a bad decision not to attract enough attention from the deaf community (including students, faculty, alumnis, disability organizations, etc) on who should replace the president who was appointed after the well-known 1988 "Deaf President Now" protest.

Yes, I do agree that Fernandes may have articulate writing skills and political savvy - she knew how to use the media as her advantage. But, her public speaking skills were not that great and I noticed that she said the same thing over and over and over about aiming to have the university to be more inclusive while it already has been. She did not represent the community's image of the next future leader, that's all. Even though many other universities do not choose the leaders that meets the students' expectations, Gallaudet isn't like that - not after the 1988 protest.

To clarify some misunderstandings, Gallaudet is also a "place" where many deaf people have the opportunity to be not frustrated by communication barriers because they have already experienced it when they were growing up AND they know they will continue facing them after graduation. That explains why so many deaf people still associate with the university way long after they graduate and why so many generations of deaf families still attend there because it's a huge part of their lives.

It was never clear that the university practiced "audism" meaning that the administration preferred to speak than sign - and that's difficult to prove. Fisher is correct that the students were petulant and arrogant because they felt that the university should choose a leader that they want and that isn't the case for other universities. But it comes from within - they already know that they will never be able to hear or be "exactly" like those who can hear and they eventually develop a strong pride and identity about their deafness. Physically, they do accept that they're deaf, but psychologically, they don't think there's anything wrong with being deaf. So, that may partially explain their stubborn demeanor and that makes it easy for many others to criticize or misinterpret them.

Last, I do agree that the educational quality at Gallaudet needs serious improvements with the low graduation rates and the U.S. Dept of Education and OMB's reports. What did Gallaudet do about that? Not sure.

Posted by: CB | October 30, 2006 12:44 PM

Science is showing that primary language acquisition in the first few years is absolutely necessary to learning language later on-- you can teach sign the first few years and transfer to any other language, it doesn't make the difference.

But isolate a child from language completely, then put the child in school to learn language, and that child is doomed to struggle for life.

The evil of oralism is that they made parents withhold language; if the parents have money and time, are motivated, and have the support, and the child has any usable hearing for language, then yes the child will learn spoken language via oralist methods within the critical time window. That's a LOT of ifs.

With sign language used with the baby, there are no ifs whatsoever.

To even risk withholding language development from a child in their crucial time window is CHILD ABUSE. Period.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 12:44 PM

Let's face it. She should have forseen and forestalled this protest because it was her job to do so. Pure and simple.

And precisely what good would "forestalling" have done? Postponed the inevitable? Let's face it. Gallaudet is identified as strongly with student protest as it is with deafness, if not more so. It seems to be in a constant state of agitation. Blaming Fernandes for this is blaming the victim of a vicious campaign of character assassination.

The board bears ultimate responsibility for this debacle. Their failure to immediately put an end to the protests exacerbated the situation, a fact that the miscreants fully exploited. And now the board has buckled under like a cheap card table. The university has the reputation it deserves.

Posted by: Mark | October 30, 2006 12:45 PM

What does having hearing parents have to do with a person's level of deafness and ability to aquire spoken language? An Oralist seems to correlate the two: 90% have hearing parents; therefore, they are more likely to succeed under oralist techniques than the visual and totally accessible to all who have eyes avenue of sign language. Not quite getting how these are related. I can't fathom learning a language without full accessibility. Would you learn to speak French by hearing it explained in Italian if you only spoke English to begin with? This is akin to teaching profoundly deaf people how to speak by combining lip reading, vibration simulation/copying, and audio stimulation in hopes they'll somehow easily learn to become fluent in what they cannot comprehend to begin with. Oralism works for those who have residual hearing, but for the rest of the deaf, a visu-centric approach would benefit them far more than making grunting sounds till their blue in the face just to be able to say they can "speak"!

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | October 30, 2006 12:45 PM

Most of the comments on this discussion are misinformed and misdirected. The basis of democracy is the belief in self-governance, but this seems to be absent from many commentator's negative attitudes towards the students' self-expression and attempts at self-government.

"Taxpayers" have no special claim to judge programs that Congress sees fit to pass. All citizens over the age of 18 have the right to be "voters," and it is this category that determines the legitimacy of where those tax dollars are going. Citizen participation, rather than the fact that the government needs tax dollars to run, is what gives Congressional funding decisions legitimacy. Just because citizens have to pay taxes, and the tiniest percentage of those taxes goes to fund a school for the deaf, does not mean that that citizen has a right to judge the program. A citizen has a right to judge a program because of his or her voting power, which is the foundation of representative government. Students at GU do not have such representative government. Nor do most students in their universities. Why not? It is a question of the legitimacy of denying participation. Surely, such a denial requires strong evidence that the denial is for an excellent reason. Maybe such reasons exist. However, the burden should be on those who believe that students' voices should be denied to show why this is necessary.

Those same GU students can vote for members of Congress, but cannot vote directly on matters concerning their own education. If Congress or the board does not listen to them, then why should they not protest for what they believe undermines their entire community? Even if people disagree with the students' policy position, a real democracy has no room for quashing individual expression and political activism. In some ways, this controversy has the reverse outcome, but similar self-determination problems as the "separate-but-equal" doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson. Almost everyone would agree that if black people don't want segregation because it can't be equal, they would be perfectly within their rights to protest such segregation until the policy changed. Why is it less legitimate for a deaf community to protest a worldview of disability forced upon them instead of the freedom to determine their own culture and self-reliance? If they want to have a language separate from the spoken language, it should be their choice.

It doesn't matter if you disagree with that policy and you're a taxpayer--you have to listen to what deaf students want for their own school because it is their community and they can determine what's best for them. If they're wrong, then they live with the consequences, but they are in a better position to know what those consequences are than you are. No one wants to be told how to live their own lives. Those who are not deaf can attend the school of their choice and have many options in terms of size, politics, major, and environment, but deaf college students have one choice, and they should have some control over the decisions made about their academic futures.

Posted by: RN2 | October 30, 2006 12:46 PM

There is a place in the world for Gallaudet. Until you are a deaf or hard of hearing kid, especially one who has been in a mainstream setting with or without interpreters, it would be a wonderful thing not to have to struggle to understand a teacher, or to be in group situations where you understand EVERYTHING that is being "said". My child is bright. He works VERY hard in school, one of the top in our state, to understand, via an interpreter, and learn. He could go anywhere to college. He is more than capable. But he wants to go to a school where he WON'T be the only one with his communication style. He wants to be part of the Majority in the language that he uses. He doesn't want to be learning through an interpreter. And I can't wait until he gets that chance at Gallaudet!! Don't dismiss a valuable place for bright Deaf kids to learn.

Since I am hearing, I cannot really speak for the Deaf, but I see what my son has done for himself, and I want him to be able to be in an environment where he will have the potential, without communication roadblocks, to pursue his goals educationally.

Posted by: outsider | October 30, 2006 12:48 PM

Wow, I have honestly never seen so many people who just didn't get it in one place, but part of the blame lies with less-than-stellar journalistic research and impartiality. For those who aren't up on what the protests were about here is some background information and highlights:

*Gallaudet is unlike any other university, not only because those it serves unique stakeholders (ranging from those with mild hearing loss to those with profound hearing loss and several other severe disabilities). Because of the history and significance, it is the de facto center of Deaf culture in the US. From this, the President's position at Gallaudet takes on special significance and requires leadership, diplomacy, sensitivity, good communication skills, and the ability to socially interact and work with the larger Deaf Community.
**NOTE: Diplomacy does not mean calling your opponents terrorists, sensitivity does not mean wearing a red dress for the media (especially 5 hours after a 2nd student is found murdered in the dorms you oversee), good communication skills do not usually involve wholesale fabrications (especially since pictures showing security personnel using mace on students will surface), social interaction with the Deaf Community requires more than doing a radio interview (that's more like a slap in the face actually), and the definition of "working with others" in use by Fernandes might come closer to the Chinese communist party approach than what is currently used in the US.
*Historically there have been two competing approaches for teaching Deaf individuals are the oral and signing schools. The oral approach emphasizes teaching speech for communication and interaction first and then actual learning once speaking has been mastered. Obviously speech is a problem for those with more profound hearing loss in which case actual learning becomes an afterthought (this is where the view that those who sign are inferior comes in). The signing school, on the other hand emphasizes hand gestures to symbolize words, which is much easier for those with more severe hearing loss to learn, and then focuses on actual learning. For many at Gallaudet, Fernandes represents the oral school and the discrimination that usually pervades it.
*Protestors included students and their parents; Gallaudet faculty, staff and alumni; and members of the larger Deaf Community (there were over 70 tents cities erected across the US in support of the protest and 82% of the faculty voted for her resignation or removal).
*While Fernandes was Provost, post-graduation employment and graduation rates dropped steadily and the lack of security personnel who can sign (and are proficient) has continued to be a problem, despite a death because of it.
*Fernandes can only sign at a 3rd grade level (I usually can't keep up with most Deaf signers, but I actually get impatient when watching her because she is so slow) - not such a glowing distinction at a university where that is the dominant form of communication. This is where the "Not deaf enough" spin was pulled from. But maybe Fernandes is right, we could get GWU to pick someone like that with 3rd grade English skills and see how that goes.
*The selection process reeked of inequality with racial overtones (a white male with MA who made the final cut vs. a black male with PhD who did not). The fact that higher positions in the administration do not reflect the actual diversity on campus only serves to highlight this issue more starkly.
*Last but not least, can anyone show some point in this crisis where Fernandes actually showed ANY leadership qualities or skills? Let's be honest, 9 times out of 10, she was no where to be found on campus, but was out putting her spin on things to the media. Out of touch does not even begin to describe her style.

Posted by: ChrisnDC | October 30, 2006 12:50 PM

Annie, I bought into that image too. It's a nice image, and skillfully done by the PR machine.

Yes, I do think that has been the assessment, that DPN unfortunately focused on a symptom, not its cause, and put a poor president (but great fundraiser!) in a position of power.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 12:51 PM

If the "departure of Jane Fernandes, the embattled Gallaudet University president-designate, was inevitable", why didn't that come out in your interview just a few days ago? And why is it a grievous mistake to boot someone who went out of her way during a LONG career at Gallaudet to aggravate people? If she had what it takes to be a competent president, she would developed a constituency on campus by now. That she had none speaks volumes about her unsuitability for the job.

Posted by: RL | October 30, 2006 12:51 PM


Actually my cousin did go to Gally (notice I use the student nick-name?) and I'm quite familiar with the deaf culture and the damage it does to people once they've left the softly padded ivory tower that is Gallaudet. Gally is a failure in its educational mission: it doesn't prepare the students for anything but more interaction with the deaf. Further, it *is* deeply ironic to reject Fernandes because she doesn't represent deaf culture enough when deaf culture is a culture of separation, a culture of division.

So yes, it is ironic. If the students had said "now there will be a biased and wholly-student-protestor approved search for a deaf-culture advocate who's never left our campus like most of us," now that wouldn't have been ironic.

Posted by: EColi, on Irony and Deaf Culture | October 30, 2006 12:57 PM

I know French and communicate with French speaking colleagues. Also I have gone all the way to the top in my field.

Was I oppressed? No. Were my parents cruel? No.

I didnt see my deaf classmates get punished for waving their hands. True it may have happened before my time. But get real!!! Deaf children have to be prepared for the real world!

I am grateful to my parents for creating and providing me the tools to reach heights not attained by many deaf people.

The deaf kids with digital aids and cochlear implants will have far greater opportunities than I had.

I could go on. But the book by last week's op-ed contributor sums it up very nicely.

Many of my deaf friends do fine in the mainstream and have no time for the 0.01% of the deaf community who cry and complain. It is a tough world and we were well-prepared for it!

I am proud of my deafness but I have too many things to do in my field. For what it is worth, I have my own interests (ethnic and sports) that take up that time and I have made friends through these interests.

Posted by: An Oralist | October 30, 2006 1:01 PM

RL, I contacted Marc Fisher soon after that interview and he did say he thought Fernandes would eventually have to go. I don't know why he didn't indicate that in the interview itself.
I've been generally bothered by the lack of balance in the reporting by the Washington Post since this started. It's not what I had come to expect from the newspaper that took down President Nixon.

So what if the administration barred reporters from talking to the students? drop a card saying "meet me at union station at 6 pm to share your point of view." Gather a network of information from blogs. Heck, lots of alumni and faculty wrote in who would have been happy to practically drive the reporters to a secret meeting with the protestors.

And despite the literacy charges, many of the protestors are actually far more fluent in written English than Fernandes is in sign. Just bring a laptop, or set up IM conversations and ask questions back and forth.

There is no excuse whatsoever for such sloppy reporting. This is not 1988, when internet was not in general use, when we didn't have good reliable relay services, when we didn't have cell phones, sidekicks, pagers, etc. for easy and quick communication.

I'm thoroughly disturbed by this fact. Can anybody really explain this to me? Did name-calling by Fernandes and the Gallaudet PR machine really turn journalists off talking to people within the protest that much?

And yes, the students will face consequences-- community service, etc. 133 of them were arrested. None of them spent the night in a motel, so I don't see where that irrational comparsion comes from.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 1:02 PM

Oh, and you people need to get real. This was simply an instance of the outgoing President trying to set up his protege -- who was, in the totality of things, unqualified. (Last I looked, Presidents of universities, companies, countries, etc. have constituency building near the top of their job responsibilities, and clearly, Ms. Fernandes left someothing to be desired at that; autocrats often do.) The BOT rubber-stamped it and they made a mistake. If you look at this as correcting cronyism, then the student protest and the BOT decision makes a lot more sense.

Posted by: RL | October 30, 2006 1:02 PM

I didn't understand all the reasons for the protest. Reading the responses here have helped considerably, especially willbrod's. Thank you for being so informative and even-tempered.

I never have a problem with peaceful protest, but I think it is unconscionable and almost unforgivable to deny elementary and middle school students access to an education they very much need. (All children desperately need an education, deaf or not.)

If you want to remove yourself from class, that's one thing, but denying others their education is wrong, especially one for which they are paying. Shutting down the schools, especially the elementary and middle schools, very much hurt the student's cause.

My 13-year-old daughter has been asking me why the students disliked the president-elect so much. It was never very clear in the media coverage. I didn't have an answer. Now I can point her here.

Posted by: Single and denied | October 30, 2006 1:08 PM

wilbrod, sorry about the extra "l" in your name. I noticed it after I hit "submit."

Posted by: Single and denied | October 30, 2006 1:12 PM

EColi: What years did your cousin attend Gally?

I attended at a very specific time before Fernandes became provost. All of my friends from Gally now work in predominantly hearing organizations except for one who recently started in deaf ministry. I know many deaf engineers and scientists who are very intelligent and accomplished people.
Gallaudet was a place for US to network, to grow, never a coccoon.

"Deaf people have to be prepared for the real world?" No. The real world is out there everyday. No preparation for that necessary. If their parents overprotected them, that's worse damage than anything Gallaudet could have done.

Deaf people have to be prepared to make a life for themselves in the real world, meaning they need all the skills to think, to compensate for their handicap, and so on.

Like you and I have done. It is a shame that "An Oralist" in fact doesn't know enough about the history of oralism.

What I said is true, and this ended around the 1970's with the total communication philosophy winning favor, and the least restrictive environment (LRE) law passing for the education of the disabled.
Gallaudet was in no small part responsible in helping this come about, by being the sole hold-out against the oralist philosophy. Thank them sometime, non?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 1:14 PM

What an unbearably patronizing, elitist attitude. As if students have no right to "run", as you put it, the university that they attend.

Sadly this debate between students advocating democracy and "adults" advocating patronistic control is very old. Students and supporting faculty properly claim their right of participation in governance while elitist administrators claim that the institution is "theirs". This was a core component of the Free Speech Movement, and the students were right then, too.

Really, the argument is over the meaning of "democracy" in a free society. Who decides? Administrators, managers, technocrati, wonks, officials, boards of directors? That is, elites? Or people themselves? Even "children" such as students.

The argument is decided by struggle, of course. Bless, bless, bless the brave students of Gallaudet and thank you for your solidarity and commitment! You kicked ass and you're an inspiration!

Posted by: Mark Phillips | October 30, 2006 1:15 PM

I agree, Single and denied (No offense taken at the misspelling), although the choice to close down the schools seems to have been the administration's. I was rather upset they didn't even try and talk sense into them, but rather reacted with anger.

Also, in 1988 Gallaudet, including the schools (I believe) was shut down for a week without this same kind of response.

I myself happened to be taken to the march on Capitol Hill in 1988 as a child by my HEARING parents because I had a dentists appt that day, and my parents decided missing one day of school wouldn't hurt me, not for this.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 1:18 PM

I knew Dr. I King Jordan many years ago, although I haven't seen or spoken to him in 16 years. However, I still trust him as I would someone in my own family. I think he was a wonderful President, and was a great leader for Gally. He's also a very nice man, BTW. I saw a few people posted that Jordan "lied" during this process. In my opinion, I. King Jordan doesn't lie - ever, and he ALWAYS considers what is best for the the furture of Galludet. People are allowed to have a different opinion, but accusing someone of lying is way off base. Also, protesting is fine; shutting down a University is not. After the mess the STUDENTS created, who would want to be President anymore???

Posted by: No Name | October 30, 2006 1:21 PM

Wilbrod, "Gallaudet was a place for US to network, to grow, never a coccoon", ahem, I have to say BS to that. Great big hulking BS! My cousin was there in the 90s, the same time I was at GWU. My interactions with the students there led me to believe that emotionally and educationally the students there were held back by "deaf culture." It's a Harrison Bergeron (short story by Kurt Vonnegut, promise of equality: as long as no one exceeds our least talented, then everyone is equal.

Gallaudet should be dismantled and its funding used to supply translators to the rest of the US university system. Gallaudet represents a concept whose time is past, whose mission has failed, and sadly, whose students have taken up the flag of its worst problems as though they were strengths.

Posted by: EColi | October 30, 2006 1:22 PM

Colleges and universities aren't in the business of producing widgets for consumers or producing dividends for shareholders. The structures and processes that work in a corporate or government environment don't necessarily work in a post-secondary institution. Most of the time, people who don't work on a college campus have a tough time understanding why campus problems can't be addressed by someone issuing an order of some sort.
Colleges and universities, to do their work of promoting intellectual inquiry, can't use the hierarchal model that businesses and government agencies use. They must be able to expose students to a broad spectrum of ideas and approaches to the study of various disciplines, and a hierarchal model could easily give one person or a small group the power to limit discussion of alternative views. That's why post-secondary schools operate on the principal of shared governance--the idea that faculty, staff, administrators, and students all have a stake in the outcomes of policies, procedures, and decisions. In fact, accrediting organizations ask how governance is working during reaccreditation processes. Apparently, Gallaudet did not engage students sufficiently in the search, thereby placing itself several years behind many schools that now involve students in governance. It's not the inmates running the institution; it's allowing those who really have the greatest stake in the institution's success in its mission to have input.
In a shared governance environment, process becomes extremely important, and the assumption is often "If we didn't follow the process or the process was flawed, we probably didn't get the best outcome." To correct a flawed process, it's often necessary to backtrack and sometimes necessary to start from scratch. At Gallaudet, the flawed process was actually pointed out last spring, but it seems that no one did much about it at that time. The Trustees apparently didn't recognize that a university president, unlike a corporate CEO, has to be able to garner support from all constituencies on campus; a president opposed by faculty and students and selected through an apparently flawed process probably would have problems doing this. Fernandes, had she met with students and faculty last spring and set up a clear mechanism for addressing their fears and problems, might actually have salvaged the situation, but she didn't.
People I know who have worked at Gallaudet have suggested that given her personality, Fernandes probably would have had great difficulty in trying to acknowledge and address the problems and concerns. She probably did the best she could, and in another time, another place, it might have been the best course and led to the best outcome. I. King Jordan and the trustees might have been able to help her; it's not clear that they made much effort in this direction.
Another reality of post-secondary education is that every process, no matter how successful or unsuccessful, is subject to intensive scrutiny and discussion in the hope of improvement. There are lessons to be learned for everyone involved, but that process has to begin without rancor or threats.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 1:22 PM

wilbrod, I understand that the official decision to close the schools was the administration's, but would you have tried to take your child through a throng of students actively and admittedly trying to keep people off of the campus? I wouldn't.

The administration should have done a lot differently, as should have the students, but I don't see how the administration could have opened the elementary and middle schools and ensured that the children would have free, unfettered and safe access to the campus.

I support my daughter's efforts to learn about protests like this one, and even to participate depending on the circumstances, but that doesn't mean I'd try and drag her through hundreds of angry college students who don't want anyone crossing a line in the sand somewhere.

Posted by: Single and denied | October 30, 2006 1:28 PM

Yes, I do agree with that point. Interestingly enough EColi, your cousin may have been there at the same time I was.

I'm trying to see what you mean specifically by "being held back". For me and my friends Gallaudet was NOT a cocoon. For some other students, it was. You get from a place what you put in it.

I had friends who chose to transfer out of Gallaudet because they weren't satisfied. One friend had ongoing interpreter problems that wound up with him suing the Canadian government for over 7 years and losing, only to see the government pass the law that fixed the problem he had been suing over all along.

As for deaf students; are you really qualified to evaluate the backgrounds, educational experience, and life story of the students at Gallaudet from an superficial interaction? Deaf people are not at all alike, uniform, or homogenous at all.

I'm surprised you can identify deaf culture as the single characteristic "holding them back." I've lived and experienced many different settings of deaf people, and I can't make that same assessment at all.

I have a friend who is from a culturally deaf family who is working just fine at a major company and working on her MBA. She cuts a great corporate figure.

I know many, many graduates from Gallaudet who are accomplished professionals. They got the leadership opportunities and the networking skills they wouldn't have gotten at bigger colleges not as geared to the deaf.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 1:37 PM

By the way, Nancy Bloch of the NAD says this:

"Even with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, societal attitudes remain by far the greatest barrier to success for individuals with disabilities."

Deaf culture (with the big D and C) is a reaction and a tool to attempt to deal with the prevailing societal culture.

It's been said that if everybody in America learned ASL, then deaf culture would vanish overnight. I'd really like to test that thesis.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 1:41 PM

The board failed to use its most potent tool - suspension and expulsion from the university.

Students can and should protest. The protests can be embarasassing and extremely inconvenient for the university. But the protests must be done peacefully and without a significant disruption of the core mission and activities of the university.

The university needs a policy that dictates that any student who willfully and materially obstructs the core mission and activities should be suspended for a semester and not allowed on campus during their suspension. An unauthorized return to the campus during suspension should be grounds for a full year suspension. Finally, repeated returns to campus should be punished by expulsion from the university. Students living in university housing would have to go home and live with their parents or find, and pay for, off-campus housing. And since financial aid would be withdrawn, many off-campus students would similarly have to return to Mom and Dad.

The board of regents should have been telling students that no matter what the decision of the board regarding Fernandes, the suspensions and expulsions would be carried out without exception.

What the students love most is their community. This is true at many colleges and universities. It is a noble affection and should be respected. The threat of arrest only serves to rally the students. Arresting students only invokes the imagery of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war protests, and the student protesters will falsely equate their cause with those that came before. Arrests would be worn as badges of honor.

Expulsion is the real punishment. The threat of a forced explusion from the community should have been explicit and real. Community membership is a privilege, not a right. And these young men and women should have been taught a lesson about the consequences of their conduct.

Posted by: Mike B. | October 30, 2006 1:47 PM

Deaf individuals consider themselves as part of an "ethnic group?"

Posted by: Huh? | October 30, 2006 1:47 PM

"The basis of democracy is the belief in self-governance, but this seems to be absent from many commentator's negative attitudes towards the students' self-expression and attempts at self-government."

Ah, but a University is not a democracy.

Posted by: to RN2 | October 30, 2006 1:49 PM

Mark Phillips--

Can you name a single university that is run by the students?

I thought students went to universities to learn. What, exactly, are their qualifications to run a university? And, if they are qualified to run a university, why would they bother attending one?

Posted by: KK | October 30, 2006 1:53 PM

Wilbrod, for a deaf person you sure "talk" a lot.

Posted by: Silence is Golden | October 30, 2006 1:56 PM

Did you actually write, "the loudest students?"

Funniest thing I have read in a long time!

BTW, The trustees were absolutely wrong in their decision making process, either at the beginning, or now. Makes no difference when they were, but they should have either made a good decision then, or stuck by it now.

Posted by: Thom | October 30, 2006 1:56 PM

I do not know how the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees came to select Dr. Fernandes, nor do I know whether Dr. Fernandes was the best available candidate for the presidency of the University. However, by selecting her, the Board was, in effect, saying, "we believe that Dr. Fernandes is the best available candidate for the job."

I also do not know whether the Board was correct. Nor do I know whether the student, faculty, and alumni protesters were correct in asserting that she was not. However, at this point, that debate is moot.

What is significant now is that the Board of Trustees has made a grievous error by waiting a month or more after the protests began this fall to revoke Dr. Fernandes' appointment, and then doing so without at the same time ensuring that the protesters understood that there would be significant consequences for their actions that disrupted the University--ultimately to the protesters' own detriment through the disruption of classes and the public perception that Gallaudet University is not a significant educational institution. The Board evidently has no courage to stand by its convictions.

Even if the Board did not informally sample student opinion of Dr. Fernandes before it appointed her to be President-elect, it has certainly been aware of the prior student protests that led to the appointment of the current President, King Jordan), and the potential for attempts by students to control (not merely influence) the current selection process.

In light of this, the Board should have cast a wide net in the original search process, and when it announced Dr. Fernandes' appointment, the Trustees should have agreed among themselves that the Chairman would speak for the Board, and that the Board would support the decision it made. Indeed, the apparent failure of the chairman (the Ph.D. apparently supported by many students) to attempt to defuse the protests by noting his own support for Dr. Fernandes is telling.

The Board also damaged its own credibility by failing to render "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind" (Jefferson, Declaration of Independence.) It failed to explain why it selected Dr. Fernandes, it failed to strongly defend her, and now, it failed to explain why it has revoked her appointment.

One of the most important tasks of any Board of Trustees is to select the CEO. On two separate occasions, Gallaudet's Board has failed to do the job, either by failing to select the best qualified and available applicant for the job (admittedly a judgment call), or by failing to support the person selected once protests arose--and by failing to discipline students and others who, once their protests had been heard and a decision rendered that did not receive their approval, refused to acknowledge the Trustees' authority and responsiblity to govern the University.

For her own sake, I hope that Dr. Fernandes has a strong termination clause in her employment agreement. Her successor (if one can be found) will certainly require one.

And that raises the point that has been made by others: Given the Board's history of failing to support its Presidential appointees, who will take the job now? Unless the Board's "discipline" of the students includes expulsion of those who prevented students from attending class, and termination of faculty who supported the protests, the Board has again failed in its responsibility to effectively govern the University, and the students and faculty (and any new President) will rightly understand that they now control the University, and that the President serves at their sufferance, not that of the Board. In my opinion, the entire Board should be replaced--with Trustees who are willing to back the right (even if unpopular with students and faculty) decision--before the search for a new president begins.

Posted by: Chip | October 30, 2006 1:57 PM

Wilbrod, if everyone in the US learned ASL, then they'd have wasted a lot of time better spent on Spanish lessons.

"Are you really qualified to evaluate the backgrounds, educational experience, and life story of the students at Gallaudet from an superficial interaction?" "Anybody who knows anything about deaf education knows"
Given your inability to create an argument without disparaging the very concept that I could have something relevant to say, I'd say yes, Gallaudet is a failure, it certainly failed you if that's how you learned to argue your points. Very Dick Cheney: "First, call the guy an idiot, then claim he's not qualified to be in the discussion."

Further, you claim that I 'can identify deaf culture as the single characteristic "holding them back."' That's called a strawman argument: claim your opponent said something incontrovertibly stupid, then point out how stupid that is to say. I never said that it's the only thing, but I do feel it's a major problem, as evinced by this stupid and arrogant protest.

Finally, it's fascinating the way you "Deaf Culture" advocates change the meaning of "Deaf Culture" to suit your needs of the moment. Last I checked in it wasn't really even a culture beyond the barest sense of the word, it's a separatist POLITICAL movement held together by ASL and a feeling of resentment towards those who try to deal with the hearing world. Last time I check it was also about to be eliminated by technology.

Posted by: EColi | October 30, 2006 1:59 PM

Thought experiment (though I know this may send me straight to Godwin's Law, do not pass Go, do not collect $200):

Find "Gallaudet" and replace with "Howard"; find "deaf" and replace with "black".

If the first black president of Howard -- who, in this scenario, would have been elected only after the students and alumni demanded the non-installation of a white person in that position -- were retiring and the board of trustees selected as his replacement a black woman who had, let's say, gone to a mostly white school as a kid, although she and her family lived in a mostly black neighborhood, what then? Would the students insist that she wasn't black enough? That her selection as the president of their university was a symbol of a "culture of oppression and fear"? That when she expressed a hope that the future might see further increases in racial harmony, what she meant was that she wanted them all to become white?

And would anyone outside that community be at all sympathetic?

Posted by: walk left, stand right | October 30, 2006 2:07 PM

I want to remind your readers that the majority of the faculty at Gallaudet can hear, and that at least half of the graduate students there are hearing. 82% of the faculty voted against Fernandes, and it was two hearing faculty members, not deaf faculty, that helped organize the first protest meeting back in May. This protest was not just done by a group of deaf students. Many hearing people were involved in the protest too.
Also, Marc, I can't help but wonder that if a similar situation happened at Howard University, if you would have expressed your opinions so freely toward the students and the black community? Why should it be so easy to say anything you want about deaf people without ever having walked in a deaf person's shoes?
You aren't in a position to shape public opinion and judge what was happening at Gallaudet.

Posted by: Unfair | October 30, 2006 2:08 PM

KK, democracies are the least corrupt form of government because of the check and balances put in.

There has to be some direct consumer/student advocacy to correct a tendency towards corruption.

Fernandes was IKJ's crony and he basically had the power to manipulate the BoT, the media to make Fernandes one of the final 3 finalists.

As somebody said, 14 college presidents recently resigned (including at Harvard) due to a no-confidence vote.

The faculty passed a similar vote here at Gallaudet. It was ignored, not even acknowledged.

The students had the opportuniity to hear the 3 finalists speak about their vision for Gallaudet.
You see, they were already "involving" the students in their process, but it was tokenism, because in the end, when they said they didn't like Fernandes, that was ignored.
The faculty which IS the university itself, passed a no-confidence vote. Again, that was ignored.
So, okay, that's the students, the faculty, and many alumni not too happy with this selection process and clearly identifying it as flawed.

This was ignored with a "it was fair-- because we said so." Not even a "why do you say this?" with a neutral mediator to listen to.

The model of government is far more like Totalarianism, with autocratic rule. No shared governance at all.

If you can't agree with the students having a say, what about the faculty?

An university should be, in spirit, an employee-owned corporation, with the faculty having a say, even if it's a simple "no" to a few crucial decisions.

This is called shared governance.'shared%20cogovernance%20universities'

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 2:08 PM

Wilbrod says- And yes, the students will face consequences-- community service, etc. 133 of them were arrested. None of them spent the night in a motel, so I don't see where that irrational comparsion (sic) comes from. -I'm sorry if I failed to get my point across. Perhaps you failed to read my comment as it was intended. The point I was attempting to illustrate is that to many people, myself included, the students demand that there be no consequences for their actions in shutting down the school and blocking others from gaining entrance seriously weakens their position. Perhaps another example would work better. Henry David Thoreau refused to pay taxes as a protest against a number of what he considered to be governmental injustices- slavery, the Mexican War, etc.- and was briefly incarcerated as a result. His friend Ralph Waldo Emerson visited Thoreau in jail and asked, "Henry, what are you doing in there?" Thoreau replied, "Waldo, the question is what are you doing out there?" It was Thoreau's willingness to back up his principles with the physical sacrifice of liberty that made the incident worthy of note.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | October 30, 2006 2:17 PM

"You see, they were already "involving" the students in their process, but it was tokenism, because in the end, when they said they didn't like Fernandes, that was ignored."

Oh, Wilbrod, you've been making some good points, but that just isn't one of them. If A asks B's opinion on an issue and B gives it, and then A takes a decision different from B's opinion, it doesn't have to mean A has *ignored* B. It could be that A listened to B's views and gave them careful thought, and then based on that and a variety of other considerations (of which B might not be aware, by the way) chose a different path.

I get that in this instance the variety of other considerations included other players whose views were substantially in line with B's, so everyone was sort of wondering what exactly was the basis for A's decision. But as you yourself admit, the students *were* involved -- so it's disingenuous of them to claim that they weren't. "Involved" is not the same as "in control".

Posted by: walk left, stand right | October 30, 2006 2:20 PM


Where do you get your "if you can't agree with students having a say"? In my earlier post (scroll up about 100 screens) I wrote "The students are stakeholders. They deserve a seat at the table."

A faculty is not a university. They are employees of a university. If all the faculty die tomorrow, the university will still survive.

As for "employee owned" that's a rich one. If they're willing to put up the money, then they should own it. They're not willing. They want to seize other people's property for themselves.

Posted by: KK | October 30, 2006 2:22 PM


Agreed, and it reminds me of those World Trade protestors of a few years back. They arrived with an incoherent message, demanded change happen before they had to go back to class, kept up their demands for as long as their attention spans lasted, and were thoroughly put out by the concept that civil disobedience could involve getting arrested, and even, oh the humanity! being put in jail.

If fear of a jail cell is the limit of one's convictions, then one should stick to cable television.

Posted by: EColi | October 30, 2006 2:22 PM

I am trying to understand exactly what you mean by deaf culture and what it does to hold them back.

I went back and saw your "culture of separation" statement.

That's not my PERSONAL definition of deaf culture. There are many definitions of deaf culture. I've been told by some people I'm not part of deaf culture because I'm not from a deaf family, didn't graduate from a deaf insititution, nor do I participate heavily in deaf organizations.

Maybe to them, having hearing friends would disqualify me, I never bothered to ask those people.

Still, others would consider me part of deaf culture simply because I do have knowledge of deaf culture, sign, have networks and friends within the deaf community, and I am familiar with the issues facing various deaf communities.

And EColi, ad hominem arguments are very unbecoming as well. Is that what they teach you at GWU? Again, I hold by my assertion that with considerably more experience that I don't see that "deaf culture holds students back."

It is deafness itself. Period. You have not detailed your arguments as of yet as to why "deaf culture" has an impact independent of deafness on people's potential. You probably never really thought about it before.

I have. I know what you mean about the separatists. But I see it in the opposite order than you.

It's not advocating separatism and exclusive deaf culture= failure to succeed in the mainstream.

It's the opposite.

Feeling failed or incompetent in the mainstream= separatist sentiment.

I see this in many other minority groups that I think it's an universal truth.

Those same separatists would consider me an Uncle Tom. But honestly, they are a very, very small segment of deaf culture. They drive me nuts as well.

There are radicals everywhere. That's no reason to stereotype deaf culture.

And no, technology won't wipe out my deafness. There's no cure for me, not even a cochlear implant.

And by "anybody who knows anything about deaf education", I meant simply this: The Deaf education community is relatively small. Everybody knows who the successful educators and administrators are. I can easily think of a few names I would consider as qualified or more qualified than Fernandes and bing-bing, I'm not even a deaf educator, or "CULTURALLY deaf" by your definition.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 2:25 PM

In some ways, the defenders of the students sound like they espouse something similar to "it's a Black thing; you wouldn't understand." Except now "it's a Deaf thing, you wouldn't understand."

Posted by: Tom | October 30, 2006 2:27 PM

If there is indeed deaf culture, then by logical extension we would have deaf people involved in running strip bars and related industry for deaf people?

Posted by: Wondering | October 30, 2006 2:31 PM

It seems that many people are forgetting that these "children" who are neglecting their studies by protesting also include faculty, staff, alumni, and parents. By placing an infantile spin on the whole thing, one can easily lose sight of the gravity of the real issues. Which, it seems, there still seems to be considerable confusion about. The protestors--faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and yes, students--were NOT protesting because they believed Dr. Fernandes was "not deaf enough." (That is, in fact, an angle generated by Dr. Fernandes that surprised and angered many of them.) What many people seem to be missing is that Dr. Fernandes has already been on the campus in significant and influential positions of leadership for 11 years. We have seen how she operates and we already have first-hand knowledge of the consequences of her leadership. And this is precisely the reason the prospect of her running Gallaudet University terrified so many.

The purpose of the protestors asking for no reprisals is primarily related to the prevention of untenured faculty and staff members losing their jobs. From my own interactions as a student, it is my understanding that many students are aware that they took some extreme actions and are aware of potential repercussions.

Lastly, putting an infantile spin on the actions of the protestors because one does not fully understand their motivations does not logically lead to the conclusion that the quality of education must be of a lower standard. It is not. Gallaudet is an accredited university with many rigorous academic programs.

Posted by: Protestor | October 30, 2006 2:32 PM

What about that 40% grad rate?

Posted by: Dave | October 30, 2006 2:36 PM

The idea that going to jail is a necessary part of exercising the right of free speech is completely off-base. People who agreed with the pres. appointment didn't have to get off their couches, so why should those who disagreed and peacably assembled go to jail? Historically, much admired activists have had to go to jail for their beliefs, but that's because their incarcerators were wrong and used the incarceration power to silence dissenters. The protesters don't need jail time to enrich their message. It's those who favor silencing dissent that get the advantage by jailing dissenters.

Posted by: RN2 | October 30, 2006 2:37 PM

Several years ago I made the unfortunate mistake of going to a bar down by Union Station for a happy hour not knowing that this was a "Gallaudet bar." However, that was made very apparent to me shortly after entering. After ordering two beers for me and a friend of mine by way of, god forbid, speaking to the bar tender, I was approached, berated and, from what I could tell (I don't know sign language but this wasn't hard to misunderstand), threatened for being in there. I am not surprised in the least bit by Mrs. Fernandes treatment by SOME of the students for "not being deaf-enough," nor the threats made to her or her family. If someone threated me or my family I would call them terrorists as well.

Posted by: Chris | October 30, 2006 2:37 PM

"I want to remind your readers that the majority of the faculty at Gallaudet can hear, and that at least half of the graduate students there are hearing."

Why would a hearing grad student go to Gallaudet? What would be the point of putting yourself into that insular, exclusionary environment if you weren't "one of them"?

Posted by: still confused | October 30, 2006 2:40 PM

Yeah, I agree with you K'guy, but don't forget the students did get arrested.

I do think it was disingenuous, but at an university where "management by intimidation" was already established as a problematic practice could have meant a lot of unethical retaliation.

Whistleblowers routinely lose their jobs and get in trouble. That doesn't mean that they should have to.

The board of trustees made the decision about defining consequences, which is good.

Walk left, stand right-- "involved" with the process does not mean in the decisionmaking.

If A has overridden B's legimate veto of a decision concerning C, and then again ignore B's input (with 6 years of extra experience with C!) concerning C...

Then there is a serious ground for wondering if A was going to have its mind changed at all by anything B said.

B needs to talk to D, or E to find out why A is not listening and what can be done about this communication breakdown.

I do often have to make the same point that listening is not necessarily agreeing with somebody, myself, so that is a good point.

But common courtesy and working relationship demands that when A disagrees with B, they need to at least acknowledge B was listened to and maybe explain what the decision will be in detail for further input.

And B is not just one person. B was the whole faculty senate, a significant number of students, and alumni whose future, as some posters nastily pointed out, can be affected by Gallaudet's image and reputation.

In short, Gallaudet itself disagreed with the administration and BoT over who should lead it. That's significant.

That should have been taken in consideration right away with hearings by the BoT or neutral meditators to discuss their concerns and whether they have sufficient evidence to force a reassessment of the decision. Let them make their case without the protest, let everybody make their own conclusion. Maybe a compromise could have been found there and then with everybody talking together.

However the system ensured that would never happen.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 2:40 PM

Wilbrod, after two of your swipes at my ability to comment, I thought a nice ad hominem was in order. You turn right around and tell me what I've been thinking:

"It is deafness itself. Period. You have not detailed your arguments as of yet as to why "deaf culture" has an impact independent of deafness on people's potential. *You probably never really thought about it before.*"

Actually, I think about it often, my cousin remember?, as do many folks, especially now that this protest has brought it to the public's attention. And what I think is that it is a political movement that seeks to replace integration with society with separatism. The damage is self-evident to anyone who doesn't think that Deaf Separatism (let's give it it's own distinct name) is a good thing. But, if I have to lay it out: it means rejecting cultural and technological help that would create integration with the mainstream, it means rejecting people like yourself, and Fernandes, as "too hearing."

As for technology, it will soon eliminate deafness, or at least reduce it to the point where the idea of having a "deaf culture" is even more laughable than it already is.

Posted by: EColi | October 30, 2006 2:42 PM


You are confusing FREE SPEECH with CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE. One is a right, the other is a form a protest. The latter is sometimes used to protest the lack of the former, get it?

Posted by: EColi | October 30, 2006 2:47 PM

Still confused, Gallaudet university has graduate programs for:
Deaf education
Elementary Education
Special Education
Social work
Linguistics (sign language & other)
School Counseling and Guidance
Mental Health counseling
Psychology (clinical)
Speech-language pathology
International Development

These are fully accredited and have good reputations, particularly the social work graduate program.

I myself befriended hearing graduate students from most of those programs.

I hope this helps you understand. Gallaudet not only educates the deaf, it also educates those who may work with the deaf or other disabled people from time to time or as a career.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 2:48 PM

"Culture of Deafness" is an ambiguous term. We are perhaps better off using specific examples. The Washington Post had a piece on a couple, both are deaf, who used genetic counseling to make certain they gave themselves the highest probability of having a deaf child.¬Found=true

The debate among deaf persons over the use of cochlear implants is also an interesting and perhaps illustrative example of the social and cultural currents in the deaf community.

Posted by: MIke B. | October 30, 2006 2:50 PM

I just finished looking at some pictures of the celebrations after the announcement, and I am disappointed. Beer bongs in public at the front gate?? Trash cans overflowing with beer bottles when most of the protesters were known to have been underage? Public drunkenness? Oh dear...this was inappropriate. A lady lost her job, the campus was divided and in tatters, and the legacy of the firstdeaf president is in disrepair, so it's an occasion to drink yourself senseless? The protesters just lost credibility in my eyes. Had they instead had a period of silence (no pun intended), reflecting on the hard road ahead and showing respect for a member of their own community who just lost a leadership position, I would defend the protesters blindly. But with these photos of public drinking by underage students and beer bongs off the security kiosk at the front gate, I am embarassed for not only Gallaudet, but for the deaf community, which now risks validating all the snarky comments from the hearing world that many have worked to combat!! Doh!
While I cherish my undergraduate experience at Gallaudet, I'm disheartened that partying is the only intelligent response to the BOTs announcement the protesters could muster!

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | October 30, 2006 2:52 PM

#1, for Wilbrod: But look at what you're saying -- B doesn't have a *veto*, legitimate or otherwise. B has an opinion, which is one of many. This is what I'm saying; the students seem to feel that the only way to count as Being Involved In The Decision-making Process is to Be The One Making The Decisions, which is just. not. true. It really is possible to understand someone's position and concerns and disagree as to the best next step to take.

#2, for still-confused: a hearing graduate student might enroll because she had a relative or friend who was deaf and thus she was a sort of associate member of the Deaf community; she might be a linguist whose research area involved ASL; she might want to study some non-language-related subject with someone who teaches there, this often being a strong deciding factor in grad school selection. A hundred reasons a person might decide to go someplace she didn't precisely fit in.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 2:53 PM

^^^ #1, #2 -- sorry, that was me.

Posted by: walk left, stand right | October 30, 2006 2:55 PM

Hey, PJB at 8:25am.

You exult in student power and call students the paying customers.

Not true if the Federal government is paying 70 percent of the total freight.

Please don't act like disconsolate little children and expect the US taxpayers to put up with this crap.

Posted by: Gorgonzola | October 30, 2006 2:57 PM

EColi: Why the rudeness?

Civil disobedience is the last resort of those who do not have power to decide, when they have exausted their free speech and it has fallen on unhearing ears. Dissenters do not have the luxury of exercising their free speech in board rooms and lobbying luncheons.

Posted by: RN2 | October 30, 2006 2:57 PM

The students ARE learning a valuable lesson from this. And it is practical too. They complain that they have unique needs that must be met. They will make as much trouble as needs to be made in order to get those needs met. They will succeed because authorities would rather buy them off than appear to be insufficiently enlightend about the needs of deaf people. THIS WORKS in the outside world too, all they need to do is get a job in a big corporation that prides itself on diversity, or get a job with the government. Those other deaf students who were put off by these protests and who go elsewhere for their education can make it as professionals or as employees of small companies.


Posted by: Kamdog | October 30, 2006 3:02 PM

Hey, RN2,

Why are you turning this into class warfare, or, rich-man/poor-man plaints.

This is about overseers and university administration who were totally flummoxed by student interactions. They should all be canned for incompetence, n'est-ce pas?

Posted by: Gorgonzola | October 30, 2006 3:04 PM

Actually it's not laughable from an anthropological standpoint, EColi. I hope you will read Harlan Ellison's books. "When the Mind Hears" is a good one.

And EColi, deafness is not a bar to achievement with the proper support systems in place. Technology is neutral; it can either include people with disabilities or exclude them. You can't pretend people with disabilities will vanish simply because some can be cured.

Let's use an example: cars. Blind people can ride horses. They can't drive cars. Okay, no way to really fix that. Then cars became mandatory for full participation in society- jobs, driving places, etc. Blind people became isolated even more than usual. Public transit is part of the solution for blind, and incidentally quite a few other people as well.

Phones. They were invented to help the deaf. Instead, they became a societal obstacle to a devasting degree. It took McCain and a few other congressmen to sponsor a bill that would support relay services for the deaf-- the equalivent of public transit. With this I can actually call for a job. Thank god.
Right now, there is a serious problem with calling 911 at the same level other people can. That has to be fixed, because it's become so necessary that it is a societal disadvantage not to. I've had to run and inform people on 3 separate occassions of suspected crimes in progress and it took me forever to explain. 3 other times, I simply had no way to communicate.
I didn't like that.

Now spoken language happens to be a technology that specifically excludes deaf. (Please check the definition of "technology" at

The solution have been manyfold, clumsy, there are no perfect solutions applicable to all deaf people.
Sign language is fanastic. The Internet is fanastic. Lipreading is good if you can do it, but nobody wants to survive on
it. It's just not trustworthy enough.

Now, it is possible to talk of the technology of deafness. To apply knowledge, you must first have it. How do you teach deaf people what they need to deal with being deaf? How do you disseminate that information? How do you apply it to daily problems of being deaf in society?

Gallaudet has been part of that answer for the last 150 years, not just educating the deaf, but the people who are expected to give deaf people and their families the tools to succeed. And sign language is part of the technology of deafness.

No hearing parent is going to know everything their deaf children need to know about how to prepare for the real world. They have to rely on others to help them figure it out. And the rules change as the mainstream technology changes.

And culture, yes, consists of knowledge and technology transmitted among people across the generations.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 3:05 PM

RN2, I actually thought I was being instructive, but based on your response, not instructive enough.

Let's look at the definition of Civil Disobedience:
Refusal to obey civil laws in an effort to induce change in governmental policy or legislation, characterized by the use of passive resistance or other nonviolent means.

Notice that free speech doesn't come into it? Your boardroom example is a good one. It's a private space, so you don't have free speech ther (really, if you think you do there's a couple centuries of case law that beg to differ). They can call security and throw you out. Period. But, if you chain yourself to a door, you're now 1. practicing civil disobedience and 2. probably going to get arrested. Being faint about the getting arrested makes for poor civil disobedience.

Posted by: EColi | October 30, 2006 3:06 PM


You are as determined as a Republican Congressional candidate to redefine everything I say, so I'm done debating you. Have fun with your persuasive redefinitions, I certainly haven't.

Posted by: EColi | October 30, 2006 3:10 PM

Walk left, stand right-- I'm sorry, I failed to make it clear that B (the faculty) by the rules SHOULD have had their veto carry some weight in the appointment of Fernandes as Provost. 6 years later, and they still don't consider her fit, and then she's promoted to the top position? They did a no-confidence vote. They made their opinion clear. No results. Cronyism shall rule.

That's a violation of university operations and expectations.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 3:10 PM

"The hearing population has no idea of the oppression we face every day in our lives unless they walk a mile in our shoes."

Just to summarize all the whiners here, allow me to paraphrase:

"We deaf people have the worst handicap ever and unless you are deaf you don't know how horrible it is. It's worse than that. So we have our own culture, and Gallaudet is a symbol of deaf culture in an uncaring unfeeling world. "

Ho hum. imagine you are running a football program on campus and you're only graduating 40-45% of your students. You'd be drummed out of the NCAA. You'd be mocked. Ridiculed.

But since people are deaf, we accept that less than half can graduate? I thought the handicap was deafness?

Look, at least the jocks have an excuse... they hated school to begin with... that's why they played football/basketball. But what's the peoples excuse for losing half the people at gallaudet? It's a disgrace.

Stop blaming other people for your shortcomings. perhaps the reason is because the people in charge aren't demanding enough of their students. And if the board brought in people to shake things up and FIX such an obvious problem, the students and faculty would protest. "NOT DEAF ENOUGH!".

How little people think of themselves! It's shocking.

Posted by: Just to summarize | October 30, 2006 3:17 PM

Okay, Wilbrod, but in the original analogy B was the students. :-) One opinion among many, remember? If A (the Board) considered B's (the students') opinion and chose not to act in accordance with it and then disregarded *C's* veto, then, sure. But the point I've been trying to make has been about the students, not the faculty.

Posted by: walk left, stand right | October 30, 2006 3:18 PM

All I have read is that you hate Gallaudet and deaf culture and you didn't like the people you met at Gallaudet. I've met people I didn't like either. I'm just making the point that many people define deaf culture very differently.

I can't really understand your problem unless you define YOUR definition for me. I am really truly confused by your umbrage here. Gallaudet unfortunately is a "monoploy" on what it offers.

Had your cousin been able to go right to another university with direct sign language instruction from qualified faculty and enjoyed herself there, you might feel differently.

I also have a headache from writing all this. I'm rather sad to see all the media exposure causing those knee-jerk attitudes out there that the protests are predominantly about deafness ratrher than an incompetent, corrupt administrative structure.

I've always been happy to have people I work and play with see me as a person rather than my disability, but I always know that strangers see the disability first and foremost. The only remedy is to make them know me, and tell them that not all deaf people are alike, and if they want to know, a bit of WHY.

But it gets tiring to teach thousands of hearing people the same thing over and over again. That's why deaf people like to hang out with others who understand somewhat.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 3:20 PM

Let's see if the Post censors my comment a second time...
You can see the photos of drinking yourself at if you don't believe me.

I just finished looking at some pictures of the celebrations after the announcement, and I am disappointed. Beer bongs in public at the front gate?? Trash cans overflowing with beer bottles? Oh dear...this was inappropriate. A lady lost her job, the campus was divided and in tatters, and the legacy of the firstdeaf president is in disrepair, so it's an occasion to drink? The protesters just lost credibility in my eyes. Had they instead had a period of silence (no pun intended), reflecting on the hard road ahead and showing respect for a member of their own community who just lost a leadership position, I would defend the protesters blindly. But with these photos of public drinking and beer bongs off the security kiosk at the front gate, I am embarassed for not only Gallaudet, but for the deaf community, which now risks validating all the snarky comments from the hearing world that many have worked to combat!! Doh!
While I cherish my undergraduate experience at Gallaudet, I'm disheartened that partying is the only intelligent response to the BOTs announcement the protesters could muster!

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | October 30, 2006 3:22 PM

(CyanSquirrel -- I saw your comment the first time. No censorship evident! (unless you included the link in the first iteration, which only shows up in the second.))

Posted by: walk left, stand right | October 30, 2006 3:26 PM

I don't believe University governance should be dictated by mob rule.

I wonder what will happen when the next President is appointed and the students are not happy with him/her?

Posted by: Tamm Reid | October 30, 2006 3:28 PM

I couldn't find it and mistakenly thought it was deleted. Apologies to the Post.

About the 40% graduation rate, I believe that is 40% graduate within FOUR years. That's about avergae if I remember correctly. It isn't exclusive to Gallaudet.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | October 30, 2006 3:28 PM

"But it gets tiring to teach thousands of hearing people the same thing over and over again. That's why deaf people like to hang out with others who understand somewhat."

That's fine. I have no problem with that. But taxpayers shouldn't be funding this social club. And, Wilbrod, if you're getting a headache from all this, simply stop posting.

Posted by: Not My Tax Dollars | October 30, 2006 3:29 PM

"Just to summarize", this decline in graduation rate happened when Jane Fernandes was provost. I have not seen the documented figures myself, nor what they measure exactly, but I know a lot of people have been very unhappy with the decline.

Student coming to Gallaudet expecting a lot being disappointed enough to leave, certainly does not speak well for how brilliant Fernandes was a provost and the general support system in place.

When I graduated from Gallaudet, there were some curriculum changes which I did not agree with at all for incoming freshmen, since I thought they burned money without actually providing significant education (First Year Seminar, specifically). I suspect it has become worse since, with all the requirements making it increasingly more sensible to go to a community college locally instead just to graduate in a reasonable amount of time.
This is directly caused by administrative policy, not the failure of teachers to teach by and large.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 3:30 PM

Not My Tax Dollars, Sure thing, I'm stopping already.

I believe more of my and your tax dollars goes to the war in Iraq, homeland security, FEMA (Brownie!), and so on than to this "social club." What are you doing about that?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 3:34 PM

Tamm...I think many of us who sat on the sidelines have the same fear. What's next? Who could possibly satisfy the role's expectations after such a venomous protest? The deaf community is small, and seeing one of our own picked apart really makes the rest of us take pause and wonder if risking our status in the community is worth taking on such an important leadership role. The coming months will show who really runs the university. The protesters maintain it was all about one person's leadership skills and a flawed process, so they shouldn't have an issue with the next candidate as long as they are deaf and selected in a transparent way, with diversity in mind. Right?

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | October 30, 2006 3:35 PM

How about the Congress takes every single federal dollar spent at Gallaudet and instead spends it on two things: (1) programs and support for the deaf/HOH at universities with real governance; and (2) cochlear implants for every American child who wants one? Then we'll see just how long "Deaf Culture Gallaudet-style" lasts.

When the school closes, we can let its celebrated activists set up camp in the middle of Florida Avenue during rush hour for a true taste of the anarchy and Darwinism they so relish.

Posted by: Incredulous Observer | October 30, 2006 3:36 PM

"All I have read is that you hate Gallaudet and deaf culture and you didn't like the people you met at Gallaudet"

And that accurately describes why I'm not debating with you further. Thanks for describing so eloquently what you have read, as opposed to what I wrote. Thanks for making assumptions about my cousin's experiences too.

Posted by: EColi | October 30, 2006 3:36 PM

E-Coli, just curious...what relationship do you have with your deaf cousin? are you two close? do you communicate well with each other? how do you communicate? how well do you know your cousin?

Posted by: Elsha | October 30, 2006 3:40 PM

My earliest memory is of being introduced to a little girl who looked just like me and being told that she was deaf (which I guess I understood from Sesame Street?), and playing in the gravel making castles for the rest of the day with her.

We write each other and fill notebooks on family occasions. I reread those notebooks. She could hear, but refuses to use her hearing aid and is too embarrassed by her accent to speak. But she can.

My sibling and I both took some ASL so we could speak a bit with her that way.

Posted by: EColi | October 30, 2006 3:45 PM

I agree that no competent university leader would give this place a second thought now. They have seen the board of trustees throw its own candidate under the bus not once, but twice, when that candidate became controversial.

The entire board of trustees should be given a chance to resign voluntarily, but should be removed if they won't. Then Congress should appoint an oversight board to conduct a comprehensive study of all the factors that led to this debacle.

Posted by: annie | October 30, 2006 3:48 PM

Didn't mean to sound snappish, CS. I should have thrown in a smiley or something with the pointing out of the non-censorship. ;-) (Except they tend to run away with one, as you see.)

As for graduation rate -- I don't know of any place that counts its graduation rate in terms of students graduating in four years. That'd be very unusual; I believe in the ed biz graduating with a bachelor's degree in six years is considered "on time", with anything less than eight semesters or twelve quarters being "early".

At, the table spits out results for those graduating in 4, 5, or 6 years. Gallaudet scores 5%, 22%, and 29%, respectively. This is hardly 'average': Howard University graduates 38% of freshmen in four years and 65% in six; Catholic, 58% and 69%; American, 64% and 71%; GWU, 69% and 75%; Georgetown, 89% and 93%. UDC graduates 41% of its freshmen with bachelor's degrees within four years, for crying out loud, and 62% in six. (These are data for kids enrolled in '97 who graduated by '03.) The 40% figure for Gallaudet getting tossed around this thread is pretty generous.

Posted by: walk left, stand right | October 30, 2006 3:53 PM

I gather from your response that your relationship with your cousin is superficial, at best. Family gathering and writing to one another, etc. I viewed your comments as one of the majority of hearing people who don't really understand us (those who speak out strongly of our Deaf Culture). Yes, there are Deaf people that we do not care to mingle with, or don't identify with them. Students who attend college/universities do not represent every single person on the campus. On every campus you will find students who gravitate towards those who are like themselves. Our "Deaf" world is so small that we are constantly under the microscope of the hearing community. We are often told we should do this and should do that. Last week I visited my hearing aunts in NYC and again, they say to me "oh you speak so well why do you use sign language to talk. Ho, you see, we're tired of being told what we could and should do. We are all individuals with different life experiences and have different hearing losses. No two are alike so give us some space, a chance to prove ourselves and an opportunity to rise up with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, people like you are always a thorn on our sides because you assume you know what is best.

To Not my tax dollars: If I could have the same access to every aspect of daily life that my hearing counterpart has then I would agree that Gallaudet University should be privatized. But only until then.

Posted by: Elsha | October 30, 2006 4:06 PM

That IS a big change from my time. Back then, I could count the number of 8-year students that I knew on one hand and have fingers left over.

I heard they are admitting weaker students and making them take more and more remedial courses to the point some students have to waste 2 years or more before they can even start work on their actual requirements, for heaven's sake.

This is what I was referring to earlier about administrative decisions affecting the graduation rate. I personally think it is a big waste of money to impose so many requirements.

I couldn't have afforded to go to Gallaudet for more than 4 years, and I always carried 18 credits or more except for one semester due to red tape. One semester I carried 23 credits AND tutored 12 hours a week as well.

I'm sure if I had been faced with the current graduation standards I would have opted to apply to GMU, U of MD, GWU and take courses at Gallaudet through the consortium in order not to comply with their present absurd requirements.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 4:06 PM

The 42% graduation rate is for 2005, is based on 6 year figures, and comes from the U.S. Department of Education.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | October 30, 2006 4:14 PM

Well Elsha, I figured I was walking into the trap of being told I wasn't close enough to her to have my own opinion. Thanks for living up to my rather low expectations.

You are exactly the reason that Gally needs to be shut down. It has managed to limit your views and expectations, and that is an educational failure.

Posted by: EColi | October 30, 2006 4:15 PM

"Students who attend college/universities do not represent every single person on the campus."

Why then do you use absolute terms such as "we all" and "you all?" Just curious.

Posted by: Chris | October 30, 2006 4:20 PM

So in two of the years Fernandes was provost, the six-year graduation rate rose from 29% to 42%? An increase of almost half again? Shoot, someone ought to make her president of the university.


Posted by: walk left, stand right | October 30, 2006 4:21 PM

Actually Elsha has a point. I don't pretend to know all about being hearing, even though I lived in a household full of them.
My siblings and I went to separate schools from birth, had friends that rarely overlapped. Their experiences of our shared childhood and memories are startlingly different.

They have their own experience being siblings to the disabled and having to intervene, having to explain to their friends about their family. That colors their attitudes about deafness.

Cousins can be close, of course, without the stressful family dynamics siblings have.
Still being friends with your cousin isn't really the same thing as understanding why she made the choices she did-- like not speaking.

Have you considered that maybe she may have deafened even more that she can't hear her voice anymore, and to use her hearing aid she'd have to crank it up to painful levels?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 4:26 PM

My guess is Ms. Fernandez will be working out a fairly large financial settlement in lieu of a lawsuit. I'm assuming she had a contract that the University just breached. Her reputation has been seriously damaged and there didn't seem to be a lot of due process for her, just blocked entrances. I'm not taking sides, I just think she'll walk away with quite a bit of money for her efforts.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2006 4:28 PM

Here's the D Ed chart. Goes back to 97 or 98 and looks pretty flat at 41-42%.
This may be a problem involving those dreaded alien beings- the Statisticons, near relatives of the Jargons, and cousins of the Intergalactic Baloney Merchants. Remember, I did warn you that this number comes from your federal government.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | October 30, 2006 4:29 PM

the statistical sample for Gallaudet did look odd.

FYI the 41% in K'guy's link is

"The undergraduate graduation rates are calculated as the number of graduates in one year over the number of entering students six years previously."

This means that students could have transferred out, graduated in 4-5 years as well as stayed longer than the 6 year average.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 4:35 PM

Wilbrod, with a BA becoming the new baseline requirement for a job above minimum wage, a lot of less (and even a few moderately) selective mainstream institutions have found themselves adding more remedial courses to accomodate unprepared students. I'm sure the problem increases significantly when the applicant pool is restricted by other factors.

Posted by: fs | October 30, 2006 4:36 PM

Heh...walk left, interesting stats. Something to ponder: Georgetown has the highest rate of four year careers while Gallaudet has the lowest. I wonder how much direct tuition costs on the student/family have to do with that speedy education :-) Gallaudet students frequently, though not always, get VR support to offset the relatively cheap tuition...that sounds like an interesting economics research project ha!

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | October 30, 2006 4:41 PM

I agree that remedial coursework in English and math are necessary. Gallaudet has always had those. They used to have a prep year for academically weak students at the old NW campus, which then closed.

The problem is Gallaudet has to serve as its own "community college", as well.

My concern is with courses that do not seem to serve a concrete purpose, such as First Year Seminars (started by my graduation time) which are taken for credit; yet New Signers in my time were required to take ASL courses that did not count as graduation credits at all.

They had an intensive workshop before school started for the weak signers. If MIT allows ASL as a foreign language requirement...

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 4:43 PM

"Dr. Jordan distributed a similarly biased response to the overwhelming
faculty vote demanding the removal of Dr. Fernandes. The vote, which
occurred on October 16, demanded the resignation or removal of Dr.
Fernandes. Of 168 faculty members in attendance there were 138 for the
resolution and 24 against, with 6 abstentions. This represents 82% of
the faculty in attendance and about 62% of the entire faculty."

lets get the numbers straight 82% of the faculty were not against her. It was 82% of those there at the time

Posted by: clarify | October 30, 2006 4:45 PM

My VR sucked, Cyansquirrel. I pretty much paid 1/2 of the academic cost out of pocket, with parents, scholarships, VR covering the rest. It sure did motivate me to graduate quickly-- in hindsight, a little too hastily.
However I have not yet done graduate school (I should) because I simply haven't found a way to make it work out yet money-wise.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 4:46 PM

I believe you are correct, Clarify. That's still over 1/2 of the whole faculty. A later vote had even more faculty in attendance.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 4:47 PM

And for full disclosure, I graduated from Gally "early" I guess, in four years with a major and a minor, and with only 6 credits transferring from my one miserable mainstreamed semester at Ohio State. Gah...shuddering at the memory of being so utterly left behind in a room full of heated discussion during class becase my interpreter could not interpret everthing unless she had two more sets of arms, and by the time I had a question to ask, the class was off on a different tangent. Yeah, interpreting is generally a delayed-basis kind of thing. Which is why deaf people of all walks and hearing levels choose Gallaudet: It provides total and direct access in a language I can always be sure to understand if I want...sign language.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | October 30, 2006 4:49 PM

Well, on the other side of the coin, CS, let's not forget that your Georgetowns and your Stanfords (77% in 4 years; 94% in 6) and good lord your Ivies (mid-90's across the board at Harvard and Yale) pride themselves on their high graduation rate. Students are Discouraged, shall we say, from taking too long to graduate -- mostly because it's hellaciously expensive for them, but also because it hurts the university's image. If they could work out a way to make the stat something like "of incoming bachelor's-degree-seekers who graduate at all, percent that do so in four/five/six years", and thus just expunge the people who never manage to finish, you'd better believe they'd do it.

Hoya Saxa. :-]

Posted by: walk left, stand right | October 30, 2006 4:51 PM

J Fernandez has essentailly run Galludet for the past 9 years. Jordan, while popular, was a non-entity when it came to making the hard choices and taking the necessary action. She was by far the most experinced candidate so drop this non-sense about the black phd. It wasn't racism or autism that's all non-sense. Be honest with yourselves: If you were a qualified candidate why on earth would you have anything to do with this mess? I am sure the students learned some important lessons in this process - I just wonder how long it will take them to figure out just exactly what they learned? This will set Galludet and the supopsed causes it represents back 50 years. See ya!

Posted by: Rufus | October 30, 2006 4:59 PM

Walk Left, I hear ya (metaphorically). I just don't think the Ivy League colleges are representative of college education in general. Perhaps an analysis of the center 90% of the bell curve, leaving the ultra cheap, and ultra expensive colleges (and their respective academic performances) out of the picture would provide a more meaningful look at the effect of tuition cost on college career speed.

Anyways, I had never thought of people taking longer than 5 years to graduate before arriving at Gally. The career students of 6 or more years are real at Gally, and I shake my head...BUT I also understand not wanting to leave one of the few places on earth where you can be fully intellectual with ease, without interpreters or writing a million pages of dialogue or lipreading and only understanding 25% of what's really said. So I just worry about myself and try not to pass too much judgment on Gallaudet students. As a poster above noted, yes it is a kind of "deaf thing" and most non-deaf wouldn't understand. Just my two cents on the abysmal graduation rates ;-)

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | October 30, 2006 5:03 PM

Marc: Thanks for printing the names of the members of Congress on the Board. After reading through a portion of these responses, I did the best thing and sent e-mails to the three members of congress as well as to three list serves with over 3000 members. I urged the list serve members to read these postings and then write to Congress demanding that our tax dollars no longer fund this expensive escape from reality. The protesters should be expelled, sent to jail if they choose to violate existing laws, and either have the school return to teaching or close it. "Gally" may well have outlived its usefulness.

Posted by: No Support Here! | October 30, 2006 5:20 PM

Welcome to Oaxaca North, or maybe it's Berkeley-1960s East. Mob rule won, never mind the damage.

Going to college to actually learn something is So Last Year. Protest demonstrations are So Much More Fun!

Posted by: oldhonky | October 30, 2006 5:59 PM

J Fernandez? First of ALL, her name is Jane Kelleher FernandeS, and she ran Gallaudet as Provost for 6 years, despite having very slim qualifications for the position, and being promoted over the protests of the faculty senate despite the very specific by-laws about that.

As for qualified: Roz Rosen was Provost before Fernandes, and retired as VP of Academic Affairs. She spent 33 years at Gallaudet.
And yes, she did apply for the job. Her brother is on the Board of Trustees, so he had to abstain from the presidental search committee. I can easily think of a few other ex-Provosts who are as or more qualified than Fernandes.

I also know presidents and vice presidents of corporations who are certainly qualified for the administrative side AND the leadership side as well.

But Fernandes was IKJ's favorite and that settled it, right?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 6:06 PM

I think Marc's article was completely on point. There's a lot of blame to go around about the conflict at Galludet. The trustees showed now leadership at all. They left Fernandes to hang out to dry.

I also wasn't impressed with the students at all. Some of their concerns seemed very legit but they were not very articulate about most of them. They came across as childish and extremist. Dr. J's gone now. Now what??

How have the demonstrations ensured that there are INSTUTIONAL changes in place to ensure that the needs people protested for will be met for years to com?? I'm not optimistic.

Posted by: chic | October 30, 2006 6:16 PM

No Support Here! Gallaudet has not outlived its usefulness.

The fact of the matter is that American deaf are one of the most highly educated in the world, having much higher college attendance rates than the world average (heck, more actually graduate HS than in many country.). There are countries where deaf do NOT manage to get any kind of education at all.

I went to India twice, and met deaf there every time. What I noticed was that the sign languages of every deaf person I met there were different. This is also true in Russia-- the deaf of one city often speak very differently from another. The reason? Lack of income, education, and travel. Those deaf people simply never met each other to share and merge their sign languages.

So I'm meeting those deaf people, all whom have no hope of going to college. The men do have jobs and varying income levels. I ask them about deaf people in other places, they have no idea. To add insult to injury, India has many spoken and written languges as well, and the deaf people may be instructed in all kinds of languages as well.

I spoke to somebody who knows the deaf issues there and he said most of the schools are awful and it is impossible to mainstream the deaf because there are no qualified interpreters, the sign languages (as I saw) are too varied, that you can't guarantee that even a competent interpreter can be understood by a deaf student.

And then we have ASL in America, spoken by 500K to 2 million people. It has its dialectal variations, as much as Italian does, but the core vocabulary is homogeneous. I could use an interpreter anywhere in America, and except for a few funny signs I'd be able to follow without prior practice.

THAT is what allows mainstreaming to occur. Gallaudet is the number one influence in developing a homogenous sign language. Every year, freshmen come in with all the dialectal signs, hammer out the differences and learn which signs are the most universal, go home and introduce Gallaudet sign back in their local dialects. Or they move because they're educated and they can get jobs where-ever. They also diffuse signs into the dialects there.

That's the difference between American deaf and Indian deaf. Gallaudet. Gallaudet still attracts international students in spite of the sky-high price tag for very good reasons.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 6:18 PM

CS: I do get it, as much as a white hearing (etc.) person can "get" that sort of thing; I get it on an intellectual level, even if I never can on a visceral level. But my reaction is, what kind of advocacy is that? What I don't understand is the preference to retreat from the world rather than try to conquer it. That is, I get the (near-)necessity of having such a place where young people can start out, and where everyone can be safe, comfortable, etc., etc.; but I don't get never leaving. Or -- I mean, I understand that there are people for whom this is the preference. But I know that if I were in that place I wouldn't share that preference (and the way I know is that I'm not one of those girls who was ill-served by coed classrooms). It's not a matter of learning to "fit in" to the "outside world"; it's a matter of making the outside world change to be more accommodating.

But, see also a bunch of other political issues on the stage at the moment. :-/

Posted by: walk left, stand right | October 30, 2006 6:19 PM

Chic, I'm optimistic about change because those concerns are being aired today, right now, not 18 years after the fact.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 6:19 PM

Wilbrod, you assume that I'm so lame as to never ask her. That's the assumption that keeps being made: a hearing person can't understand, wouldn't want to, and wouldn't try. Assumptions assumptions assumptions.

So let me state, for the record, you can't understand what it's like to be a hearing person, and you don't want to try. "Sound" familiar?

Posted by: EColi | October 30, 2006 6:23 PM

I'm confused-- what do you support, walk left, stand right?

" But I know that if I were in that place I wouldn't share that preference. It's not a matter of learning to "fit in" to the "outside world"; it's a matter of making the outside world change to be more accommodating."

So would you be all ready to go change the world, or try and fit in better?

Personally I am 100% for helping the outside world change to be more accomodating. I think it's a win-win situation, while isolation is not.

I don't get "never leaving" either, myself.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 6:32 PM

Well EColi, you are not making yourself very clear, so I have to assume everything, like if I was lipreading you.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 6:33 PM

Marc & others
I do consider myself diplomatic and willing to take both sides of the story but I regret to say your comments are appalling. Students aren't the only ones; the faculty were involved and so were many deaf individuals not only in USA but as well as other countries (England, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Chile and Brazil). Early surveys were sent to the Board of Trustees prior to the final round of top 3 candidates clearly stated that Jane Fernandes wasn't a choice they wanted. It is the system of oppression (sad but true) that they protested against. That's why we need to look into our own backyards first, pick on somebody our own sizes and avoid judging until we walk in their own moccasins.

Posted by: Lonamstven | October 30, 2006 6:35 PM

Wilbrod: I am in favor of integration, and when people say "but why should we have to try to fit in to a world that doesn't want us", I say "you shouldn't; so go change the world". :-)

Posted by: walk left, stand right | October 30, 2006 6:41 PM

We'd get on fanastically, WLSR ;). One thing about changing the world, it's tough. I'm very taoistic and I believe small changes yield the best, long-term results.

This protest won't change anything unless all concerned seize the opportunity to make some small but very significant changes.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 6:46 PM

Be very careful how you encourage congressional intervention based on financial contributions......

Posted by: WC | October 30, 2006 7:33 PM

Good one, WC!

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 7:50 PM

Marc Fischer is obviously ignorant when it comes to Gallaudet politics.

Simply put, I'm not going to waste my breath on trying to explain about it.


Posted by: | October 30, 2006 8:12 PM

"The fact of the matter is that American deaf are one of the most highly educated in the world, having much higher college attendance rates than the world average (heck, more actually graduate HS than in many country.)."

(not necessarily to Wilbod) I guess this statement is true if many of Gallaudet students stay at Gallaudet most of their adult lives. But, where do they get their tuition money? Do they work? Does mommy and daddy pay for twenty years (plus) worth of "college" tuition? It looks as though tax payer money pays for this "cultural" hangout. And how is the success of this government-funded program measured in order to show the taxpayers what they are getting for their tax dollars? Unlike the JWOD program, where people are trained and become productive workers, it appears as though many Gallaudet students rarely integrates into a productive work environment. And belive me, people employed under the JWOD program have it just a bad (if not worse) than deaf people. BTW, this is comparing apples to apples as they are both government funded programs to assist disabled.

And I really don't know how anyone can make the statement that everyone should learn ASL in order to communicate with the deaf when Fernandez was thrown out because she was not "deaf enough"? The non-deaf would be just as shunned (if not more so) for not being "deaf enough to understand".

Posted by: Not my Tax Dollars | October 30, 2006 8:30 PM

In fact, what's stopping any tax payer from submitting a FOIA request in order to find out how this tax money is being spent and what oversight is in place in order to measure the success of the program as it applies to the benefit of the general public.

Posted by: Not my Tax Dollars | October 30, 2006 8:41 PM

Education is about more than just jobs, Not My Tax Dollars.

However you are correct about the appearance of inefficiency. Last year Gallaudet got an D for efficiency in filfulling its purpose. That was a first.

The alumni that I know are very concerned about this and want Gallaudet to be fixed as well. We didn't think promoting the provost who basically administrated Gallaudet into this D grade was a bright idea without having a serious look at what is going on. There are rumors that IKJ was required to resign because of the bad performance rating.

I will add that education is also about creating good citizens who can think for themselves in this complex society, which is unfortunately necessary with a rapidly changing world with outsourcing and automation replacing so many jobs.

Again, I know deaf lawyers, priests, presidents, vice presidents, social workers, psychologists, writers, and other many highly productive Gallaudet alumni who have integrated well in the work environment.

I've also met many hearing people who haven't been so great in the work environment, either.

Again, I must correct you. Fernandes was not thrown out for not being deaf enough. See the information about the D grade above, and see my first post in this blog.

Gallaudet has been led by hearing presidents before. It's possible that it will happen again in the future. When this university works well again, whoever is president will be a blip on the radar.

The JWOD program is directly concerned with employment, so not exactly apples to apples. I've never benefitted from a JWOD program.

What we do have is state-sponsored vocational rehabiliation that varies from state to state. They serve much like unemployment agencies for the disabled. I've never gotten a job through them, although they did give me very minor college assistance.

To answer your question, one of my friends graduated after too many years in college with over 60K in loans. She doesn't make that much in a year.

She's not typical, but a shocking number of college grads, hearing and deaf alike do graduate with too much debt just to qualify for the jobs they want to get.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 8:48 PM

Goodnight, Wilbrod. You're not impressing me. In fact, you're starting to sound like Michael Steele.

Posted by: NMTD | October 30, 2006 9:03 PM

Exactly that.... Gallaudet has gotten failing grade for lowering their admissions standards in the past few years and allowed students to attend Gallaudet to increase their enrollment numbers. This is the works of Jordan and Fernandes. This, among many other things, is the reason why we, the stakeholders, at Gallaudet University objected to. We saw too many problems and issues that were overlooked for too long. It was time for us to rise up and make demands. Enough was enough...hence the protest. I didn't agree with everything that came of the protest at the beginning but supported its cause because I knew from within that Fernandes was not the right choice and the selection process was definitely not fair and impartial. I am an alumni and retired from Gallaudet after 30 years and have seen unethical process firsthand.

Posted by: Elsha | October 30, 2006 9:10 PM

Whatever that means, NMTD.

I would add that "tax dollars" is misleading. The real amount of your taxes, on average, paying for Gallauet is much less than a dollar a year.

I myself am much more concerned with Katrina aid, the war, and this current administration's spending America into a hole.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 9:12 PM

I see Jane as the "Abe Lincoln" martyr. She worked to liberate the deaf communities from the grips of dependence only to be shot down by the dependency confederates.

Posted by: Richard Roehm | October 30, 2006 9:13 PM

Ah what took you SO long to post here, Richard Roehm boy?

The comparsion is valid only in that her appointment to the presidency started a civil war.

Yeah, she made deaf people look REALLY independent by saying she was the only one who could lead those obstainate people to the Promised Land, right?

It's over, Richard. Quit the silly. It's one hundred percent an administrative politics issue, not the Hand of God upon Her.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 9:17 PM

One of the protestors informed me they didnt want Dr. Glenn Anderson aka The black guy with a doctorate to apply for the presidential office because he is like King. He speaks. We want someone from Deaf Culture Translation: not Deaf enough. Well now... they have painted themselves into a corner, have not they? Was not the flawed search process and lack of minority canditates why they protested in the first place? When all along, they just want a Deaf president who doesnt speak. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. We won! What exactly did you win? More than half the city abhors deaf people now. You won, indeed.

Posted by: Biff | October 30, 2006 9:19 PM

One of the protestors informed me they didnt want Dr. Glenn Anderson aka The black guy with a doctorate to apply for the presidential office because he is like King. He speaks. We want someone from Deaf Culture Translation: not Deaf enough. Well now... they have painted themselves into a corner, have not they? Was not the flawed search process and lack of minority canditates why they protested in the first place? When all along, they just want a Deaf president who doesnt speak. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. We won! What exactly did you win? More than half the city abhors deaf people now. You won, indeed.

Posted by: The Biff | October 30, 2006 9:20 PM

"Was not the flawed search process and lack of minority canditates why they protested in the first place?"

You are accurate. And exactly the point I keep making.

I got protestors informing me of a variety of things as well. But never that "Jane wasn't deaf enough." Unlike in DPN, "deaf president" (cultural, whatever) was not one of the demands made. Think about it.

No siree. My guess is that person you happened to talk to rather liked Stephen Weiner (one of the other finalists).

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 9:32 PM

I'm sorry, but everything you are saying is a load of codswallop. I am deaf. I was mainstreamed. I can sign, lipread, speak and cue. I was a national merit scholar and the only deaf person at my 4 year university. I used interpreters for some classes, CART (computer assisted real time transcription - some dude with a laptop) for some classes, and one teacher let me take an hour long nap and audio-record her lectures that I paid someone to type up for me. and I graduated with a 3.5 because I worked my tail off. People respected me for my hard work. You see, what I came to realize is this: nobody cares if you are deaf. They only care if you are a winner, or a loser. Are you going to do whatever you have to do to succeed in life, or are you going to whine that you don't have an interpreter available for you? Where do you work, by the way? If I was an HR person and some deaf guy cold called me, I would hang up on them too. Everyone knows you get a job 9 times out of 10 by who you know, not what you know. I'm guessing you only know deaf people... do you work at Gallaudet? Did you want to see Jane go because she snubbed you, or at least she did in your mind? 70% of deaf people are losers not because they are deaf, but because of their choices in life. Accept your fate. The end.

Posted by: To Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 9:40 PM

Believe what you want. But I'd say our backgrounds are MUCH more similar than you would think. So much that I'm laughing at your silly stereotypes of me.

But be careful about calling deaf people 70% losers. Don't be so sure people will think you're in the 30% winner category, with that kind of attitude.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 9:52 PM

"I can sign, lipread, speak and cue."

What is cue?

Posted by: confused again | October 30, 2006 9:58 PM

Cued speech, which is kind of nice actually, but it's not real language.

It consists of hand movements near the mouth to assist in lipreading by cueing which consonant is what (b-p-v look similar on the lips). Unfortunately it takes a long time to get practiced in, and there is cognitive interference for me because one handshape keeps looking like a B but means something. It's kind of like having to think in Cyrillic all of a sudden.

I think it'd be easier if they used fingerspelling shapes with it. A hearing friend I have is in fact researching on how to make it more compatible to sign langauge so it can be more widely used and more easily learned as a secondary communication system by older deaf.

She tried her system with me and I was able to learn it much more rapidly than I had ever been able to do with the regular cued speech movements, and I was really able to appreciate it.

Posted by: WIlbrod | October 30, 2006 10:07 PM've done a great job trying to explain a lot of things to people who have no clue about our cause and about the deaf community. It has been interesting reading on this site and I have learned nothing new...we need to keep educating the public about who we are and why we stand up for ourselves. It would help if we try to stay in the limelight and bombard magazines and write various articles about our deaf culture...maybe then we'll educate a few more hearing folks about our culture and why we're so diverse within our culture.

Posted by: Elsha | October 30, 2006 10:16 PM

I have to say, this has been educational.

I still don't think the board should have given in, because I think it sets a dangerous precedent and gives positive reinforcement to very bad behavior that ultimately will do the students a disservice in "the real world".

But I've learned a bunch of things that I didn't know about the politics and logistics of being deaf. So that's something.

Posted by: getting less confused, thanks! | October 30, 2006 10:53 PM

What I would love is for Fernandes' words calling her own students horrible things to be recognized as the reason why she could not lead. Words spoken in anger never can be called back.

Paul said in his letter to Timothy 1 Chapter 3

"A leader must control himself well, and he must think well.... Any man who quarrels a lot with other people should not lead a group. A leader must behave better. He must be gentle to other people and he must be kind...It is good when other people speak well about the leader. "

Every true leader that has vision and strength that I have ever met builds up other people, not tears them down.

Sun Tzu had something to say about leadership. One comment he made was that the goal of any battle is victory, not a prolonged campaign, which destroys countries.

From the Army manual: "As an Army leader, your emotional attributes -- self-control, balance, and stability -- contribute to how you feel and therefore to how you interact with others. Your people are human beings with hopes, fears, concerns, and dreams. When you understand that will and endurance come from emotional energy, you possess a powerful leadership tool.
The feedback you give can help your subordinates use their emotional energy to accomplish amazing feats in tough times. Self-control, balance, and stability also help you make the right ethical choices."

I also like this sample on what makes a leader:'a%20leader%20must%20control%20himself'

Again, leadership is what Gallaudet needs, and the organizational structure and the will to have it flourish once again.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 11:15 PM

It wasn't just the students, if that helps.
Alumni all over were putting major pressure on the BoT, as well by stating they would refuse to donate to Gallaudet. We all wanted an end to this lengthy battle.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 30, 2006 11:22 PM

All I've learned is that it's not the deaf community that's the problem, it's the Gallys. The hubris that some have expressed here making one synonymous for the other is disappointing.

Anyone trying to uphold the current Gally community as anything other than an embarrassment is delusional. I hope the students I work with at an FCPS TC school retain the the dignity they have and don't go the way of this petulant throng and their sad representation of the deaf community.

Posted by: PK | October 30, 2006 11:30 PM

My relationships with my parents are somewhat superficial, let alone my relationships with my cousins.

What an interesting (although possibly not entirely relevant) line of inquiry.

Posted by: Bob S. | October 31, 2006 2:26 AM

As a newcomer to the debate under this column, I would like to point out that many of the posts kept referring to the protestors as "students". This does a great disservice to faculty members, staff and alumni involved with the protest.

The word "students" conjures up images of young and often immature people. Those images comes from our media, especially the movies. Think "Animal House" and spring break. Thus, "protesting students" become synonymous with "misbehaving students" and provokes a negative view among many people. That is why the administation's PR kept using that word, and not "students, faculty, staff, and alumni" which is more accurate, but would imply a more cohesive and mature resistance, which it was.

Now I would like to comment on one aspect of this complex situation, the alumni. I am an alumnus of Gallaudet University, having graduated with a bachelors' in mathematics in 1991. Like other colleges and universities, Gallaudet has an alumni organization, GUAA.

A little while after the selection of Dr. Fernandes, and the initial outroar, the GUAA board decided to issue a letter calling for Dr. Fernandes' resignation and reopening of the search. The problem was that the University's Alumni Relations had the database of the alumni's email and mailing addresses, and refused to let GUAA use it to email their own members. Last month, the President, Dr. Jordan, used the same database to email all alumni about the postponement of the homecoming and again to ask for support for the president-designate.

The decision to postpone all the homecoming activities was made unilaterally, without consulting the people planning the 25th and 50th reunions of Gallaudet alumni. The GUAA director was part of the class celebrating its 25th reunion, and he issued a call for all alumni to ignore Dr. Jordan's decision to postpone all activities. Two days later, Dr. Jordan send another letter saying that most activities were to be postponed but that "limited functions" such as the reunions would be allowed to take place.

A faculty member who was also an alumnus, did some investigating and found that GUAA had turned over many fundraising drives to the Alumni Relations office and kept just 4 traditional funds. In the fundraising letters sent out to all alumni by the Alumni Relations office, those 4 funds were omitted.

In another example of the administration's attitude towards alumni in general occurred at the National Association of the Deaf, one of the oldest advocacy organizations in the United States, where a significant portion of the attendees were Gallaudet alumni. Dr. Jordan had a golden opportunity presented to him in the form of the keynote address at the banquet. The speech was easily the most anticipated part of the night. Dr. Jordan had a chance to proclaim why Dr. Fernandes was the best, the most qualified person for the job. He had a chance to present Dr. Fernandes, who was also at the conference, to the audience and convince them of his belief in her. By now you all know that he did not do that. What he did was just say, "There is no crisis at Gallaudet", and that "The Board of Trustees' decision is final". That was about it. I was present at the banquet that night.

There was another opportunity that presented itself to Dr. Jordan and Dr. Fernandes when they attended the GUAA breakfast, and again, they did not seize it.

I find it hard to believe that Dr. Jordan blew those two opportunities to nip the protest's momentum in the bud. On Homecoming Day, the Park Police estimated that 4,000 marched to the Capitol, and a high percentage of those were alumni. I wondered if Dr. Jordan postponed homecoming mainly to avoid so many alumni joining the protestors.

I ask you, would most colleges and universities treat their alumni in the manner that Dr. Jordan's administration did?

Posted by: Lionglass | October 31, 2006 3:04 AM

Wilbrod, why are you replying to every single message? You're just validiating all the points. You remind me of the story of the little boy with all his fingers in the Dike. Speaking of fingers in the Dike... people must have hit pretty close to home to get you all riled up. Ridddle me this Batman, if you're so friggin' smart, wheres your Nobel prize? Come to think of it, not one Gallaudet graduate has yet to win any major public achievement awards, such as a Nobel... not one! Go away quietly into that good night. You are not helping deaf people here, you are helping people get annoyed at deaf people, like a crashing bore who does not know when to shut up.

Posted by: Wilbrod? Blah... | October 31, 2006 4:45 AM

I've been at Gallaudet for almost 30 years. I teach in the graduate school. I teach in a department where every all graduates secure good-paying jobs. I am hearing and have many friends on campus, with varying degrees of "hearing status", from various walks of life. The situation at Gallaudet seems very complicated, but it is not. It boils down to several elements.

Jane Fernandes had the correct vision for the University: All-inclusiveness and tough standards. But Dr. Fernandes became Provost and became tenured by cronyism, not by the normal procedures set up by the institution. Years ago the faculty complained about this, but their complaints were ignored. This wound festered and no matter how hard Fernandes worked to make her vision a reality, a grudge was held and people were not really committed to her vision. A few maybe, but you need everyone. And while she is a bright and dedicated individual, she is socially awkward and can often appears aloof. She has also done some mean things. (Of course if she were a man, people would probably just call her "tough.") Add to that the fact that King Jordan actually did hand-pick her for the presidency and you can see why people were in an uproar.

Don't blame the students for this mess. The students were incited by a small group of faculty who definitely has an agenda. These faculty members believe that the University should be run by "big D Deaf" people, that is, people who use ASL only. They will deny this, but it is true. Some of the inciters graduated from Gallaudet and came back to give legal advice to the protesters. All this talk about inclusivity is absolute BS. Just yesterday one of the faculty, a hearing person in the Linguistics Department, sent a letter to everyone suggesting that the best way to communicate on campus is to turn off our voices and sign. For 30 years I've been teaching to classes composed of students who demonstrate a variety of ways of communicating. Some use hearing aids and implants and depend on lipreading and voice, others on sign only. Each semester I ask my students, "how do you want me to communicate?" They always vote that I use SimCom - that I sign and talk at the same time. While that's not ASL, it works just fine and the students evaluate my communication with them as "excellent." This is not to say that I don't use ASL. On a few occasions I have had classes of all Deaf students where using ASL has been appropriate. I have also had occasion to use SimCom and hire an interpreter (in those cases when ASL natives are in the class). The point is that I strive to meet the needs of all students. Some might say that if a student wants to go to Gallaudet then s/he should learn the language. That's fine, but for those people who want to maintain their ability to communicate within the larger hearing culture, then Gallaudet may not be the place for them. With the American with Disabilities Act in place, students can receive accommodations at any university. Perhaps Gallaudet's only real contribution is that it is a place to go for cultural immersion, not an education. If Gallaudet is not privatized, then more federal supervision needs to take place because what is going on there is unbelievable and it will only get worse. With advances in technology, true deafness is becoming less and less of an issue. This is very threatening to the philosophically Deaf community, including the "hearing missionaries" who feed off of it. The students really don't care if you are a proponent of ASL or not or if you are hearing or not. They just care that you care about them and do everything you can to teach a good course, to communicate well with them, and to respect them as individuals. No different than any other school. As I tell my students. "You need to do two things while at Gallaudet: (1) You need to work your butt off and get good grades and (2) you need to learn how to survive and thrive once you graduate and move outside Gallaudet's iron gates. Like it or not, we live in a hearing world and it's important to be savvy enough to survive. Despite the Americans with Disabilities Act, don't expect that just because you graduated from Gallaudet that everyone will simply follow ADA and give you a Blackberry, a computer, and an ASL interpreter. People have budgets and they may decide that it's easier to hire a hearing person, rather than you....and you won't even realize that that is the real reason you didn't get the job. While you certainly don't need to give up your cultural identity, you do need to learn how to play in the real world. You need to learn to use every tool at your disposal. You are not owed anything." Gallaudet is going down the wrong path by closing itself off to this view.

Posted by: A Gallaudet Faculty Member | October 31, 2006 7:38 AM

"To answer your question, one of my friends graduated after too many years in college with over 60K in loans. She doesn't make that much in a year."

Unfortunately, this is typical of most college graduates who take more than four years to graduate--deaf or not. I got outin four by working my butt off and taking full course loads every semester, including summers and have nearly half that in loans. Try paying it off as a single mother.

Elsha, I would argue that the current state of affairs, including the malfeasance in office, cronyism, ineffectiveness of administration and the general state of stagnate inefficency are perfect reasons to privatize Gallaudet. Do those attributes sound familiar? They are the attributes of the administration of any government agency.

They are unavoidable consequences when an organization is beholden to no one. Gallaudet, like every other federally funded institution, does not have to justify its existence or account for its actions. It merely needs to continue on and lobby for money.

I'm not saying this to condemn Gallaudet as a valuable instituion in any fashion. It is very valuable and should continue for a very long time--pretty much as long as children are born or people become deaf. This is more a condemnation of the poor way in which all federally funded institutions are managed.

Yes, you have a BoT, but as this incident proves, it is neither effective nor accountable.

In a private university, the administration is forced to justify its very existence every year to the BoT. It has to run more efficiently in order to keep tuitions at a reasonable rate and employ faculty and staff. It can't run indefinitely at a loss or it starts closing doors. If the university fails in its educational mission, students quit enrolling and tuition income goes down. It would have to change. Universities aren't and shouldn't be profit centers, but they have to be self-sustaining.

The BoT would never let it get to that point anyway. They'd can the president and provost long before that happened.

The Gallaudet administration has to do none of that. It's $100 million budget is a fixture in the national budget. It might change a few numbers in either direction and people might lobby for more, but it just flows from the government to Gallaudet unimpeded.

I've no idea what it takes to run an education system for deaf students. That is best left to those who better understand the needs of the deaf so that they can function and pursue happiness like everyone else. I'm happy to do leave that to those better qualified than I.

I do think that that $100 million would be better spent in direct tuition assistance to students than as free money to an incompetent administration, and a 40% graduation rate is pretty darn incompetent. Students and faculty might not have to protest this kind of action if the university was accountable to begin with.

I also think that while Gallaudet might not have to justify itself to the BoT or even the government, since a significant amount of tax dollars flow its way, it has to justify itself to the taxpayers when asked to do so. That is the cost of taking tax money.

Posted by: Single and denied | October 31, 2006 7:38 AM

Sorry about the typo in the second sentence. So much for my editorial abilities early in the morning. :)

Posted by: A Gallaudet Faculty Member | October 31, 2006 7:41 AM

To a gallaudet faculty member: Carol, is that you? I loved your classes. You're the pride of the leisure studies department.

Posted by: Former student | October 31, 2006 7:59 AM

Last night on the news, it was stated that Fernandez learned ASL as an adult and therefore, she signed with an accent. Yet, the Wilbod states that Gallaudet is there to help deaf people who signs with accents. It appears that Fernandez was actually a minority is a sea of perfect signing deaf people. I think the "Gallys" need to meet in order to get their stories straight.

Posted by: Two Sides to Every Coin | October 31, 2006 8:44 AM

Whoops, I did my homework. I was wrong after all.

Posted by: Two Sides to Every Coin | October 31, 2006 9:29 AM

New signers program

Look up whatever you want at:

Posted by: Anonymous | October 31, 2006 9:40 AM

How do you "sign with an accent"?

Posted by: confused, day 2 | October 31, 2006 9:42 AM

Single and denied... you are correct in stating "...I would argue that the current state of affairs...." above. Some board members have been lackasdasial in their role and functioned merely as rubber stampers. Gallaudet needs to clean up their act and it must start from the top. The administration at Gallaudet does and are required to report to both BOT and I believe their progress report is reported to the Department of Education in order to maintain their federal grant.

Posted by: Elsha | October 31, 2006 9:56 AM

"Whoops, I did my homework. I was wrong after all.

Posted by: Two Sides to Every Coin | October 31, 2006 09:29 AM "
Whoever posted this is using my Name and per the rules above that states "Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed.", that posting needs to be removed. I stand by my original post.

Posted by: Two Side to Every Coin | October 31, 2006 9:57 AM

Is it true that several GU alumni subsist on supplemental security income (SSI) of its disability equivalent SSDI???

For example, is it not right that tax dollars going to GU are being used to educate deaf people how to get SSI, viz:

Someone told me a story of three or four GU alumna renting a house in DC thanks to SSI!!!

Posted by: A very confused person | October 31, 2006 9:59 AM

Beats me, I never said anything about Fernandes signing with an accent.

I've talked to her personally and she's understandable, all signs are done fine, but her body language, facial expressions, and mouth movements don't match what she says, and those components are a major part of ASL inflection and grammar.

It'd be more accurate to compare it to broken English, since she lacks all the tiny grammar stuff.

There are accents when a foreign signer (not a late deafened) learns ASL as a second language. Every sign language has its own rhythm and pacing that helps to separate sign from null transtitions.

The Asian sign languages (japanese, korean, and taiwanese) all seem closely related, relatively young, and extremely choppy.

They start with something like a slow, strong pause at the start, often with an AH mouth shape, much longer than usual, then the rest of the sign speeds up and then back to the sticky start of the next sign. It's very different, and comes across as choppy, not stuttering exactly but choppy.

ASL and most other sign languages are much more undulating and gentle in its rhythm, with gradual changes in speed. Any stops or pauses tend to be brief and at the end of the signs.

Most sign languages seem to have similar rhythms to ASL, but their use of space may be different. Many European signers will drop their hands lower and wider than a real ASL signer would, and come across as more "gesture-y" when signing ASL.

Still, it took me a while before I could recognize foreign accents. It's not really that easy, because ASL signers themselves vary so much.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 31, 2006 10:02 AM

Good lord, is this thing still on? :-)

CD2: You sign with an accent just the same way you speak with an accent. That is, a sign language can be rendered with an accent just like any other language. Words are pronounced by making shapes with the hands and arms and face, instead of with the lips and tongue and throat, but they're shapes all the same; and studies (none of which I can specifically cite at the moment, sorry) have shown that there are systematic variations in the way those shapes are made based on regional dialects, ASL as a second language, etc.

(The specific example I'm thinking of had to do with deaf Chinese people, all of whom signed in the same sign language, and all of whom, when they learned ASL -- from different teachers -- made the same "mistakes" that could be shown to be their original sign language affecting their pronunciation of ASL signs. Fascinating stuff.)

Posted by: walk left, stand right | October 31, 2006 10:10 AM


Deafness can be a side effect of serious health problems, some of which can make it difficult to obtain work at all.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 31, 2006 10:13 AM

I also recommend Oliver Sack's "Seeing Voices" for a nice overview of ASL.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 31, 2006 10:14 AM

Wilbod, if you go back and read my post, you will see that it says the NEWS reported that Feranadez signed with an accent. As far as I'm concerned, you can have the rest of this chat all by yourself (since you've taken over it anyway).

Posted by: Two Sides to Every Coin | October 31, 2006 10:25 AM

"The administration at Gallaudet does and are required to report to both BOT and I believe their progress report is reported to the Department of Education in order to maintain their federal grant."

What kind of real accountability is there when the matriculation rate at Gallaudet is allowed to dwindle to 40%? That is shameful for any university and I realize this is very much an outsider's perspective, but it seems to me that students succeeding at Gallaudet is more crucial because in addition to learning the subject matter, the university is preparing students to interact successfully with a world that isn't all that disability friendly. Knowing business theory is pretty useless if you can't communicate it.

The administration of any university that oversees that kind of non-success rate needs to be razed and rebuilt from the ground up.

Reports to the DoE are perfunctory, as are any reports like the ones Gallaudet files. They mean nothing and the funding isn't in danger if the quality of education suffers. I've read as part of my job those nice reports full of not a whole heck of a lot of substance written by various agencies. They are like the annual reports of corporations to shareholders, full of flattering statistics and lots of feel-good prose.

You want to know the key to continuing your funding at current levels or getting increases? Spend everything you are given. At the end of every fiscal year, government agencies run around spending every last dime in their budgets because funding is based on a "use it or lose it" philosophy. If you have leftover money, they deduct that from next year's budget because apparently you didn't need it. Spending=need.

It is obvious by this whole struggle (a struggle for all sides, from my perspective. I can't say I see a real winner here.) that there is no accountability. If there was, heads would have rolled years ago. Funding would have been withheld for non-performance years ago.

This whole situation should have never gotten to this point because something should have been done from the top down long ago, starting with mass firings.

A university administration's primary responsibility is to the students' education and from all accounts from all sides, it seems that Gallaudet's administration has failed miserably in that regard.

Posted by: Single and denied | October 31, 2006 10:29 AM

Here are some great books by successful deaf people (in the pre-cochlear implant and digital hearing aid era):

David Wright "Deafness" (a classic on its own)

Henry Kisor "What's that pig outdoors?" (a brilliant modern classic)

Lew Golan "Reading between the Lips" (a witty tour de force)

June Epstien "No music by request" (a hard to find Australian book of the Gorman Family -- Pierre Gorman died aged 82 on Oct 1, 2006)

Voices of the oral deaf: Fourteen role models speak out. Jim Reisler.

Posted by: A Deaf Bibliophile | October 31, 2006 10:30 AM

your tax dollars are being spent on activities that are often associated with Frat parties.....

Posted by: Deaf Frat Guy | October 31, 2006 10:44 AM

I also like Dick Francis's bio of his deaf jockey friend, Lew Piggett

Other books: No Walls of Stone (Hardcover), an collection of deaf writers
by Jill Jepson

Also, books of poetry by Jack Clemo and Robert Smithdas, both deaf-blind poets.

Robert Smithdas was interviewed by Barbara Walters a couple of times.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 31, 2006 11:44 AM

For Still Confused:
In response to your question,

"Why would a hearing grad student go to Gallaudet? What would be the point of putting yourself into that insular, exclusionary environment if you weren't "one of them"?"

Hearing students are allowed to enroll in Gallaudet's graduate and doctorate programs. Why would they want to go to Gallaudet? Because Gallaudet offers programs that specialize in Deaf education, audiology, and other fields that require working with deaf people. These students happen to want to work with deaf and hard of hearing children and people so that's why they are studying at Gallaudet. Just as an educator must be certified to teach children with special needs such as autism, multiple disabilities, etc., a teacher must be qualified to teach deaf children. Also, if they choose to use sign language in their teaching, they need to learn how to express and read American Sign Language first.
You can learn more about Gallaudet's graduate programs at

The idea that deaf people do not accept others as "one of them" is exaggerated.
And frankly, people who have never walked in a deaf person's shoes have no business passing judgment on the choices and decisions that deaf people make. A hearing person will never be asked if they can not only read and write, but oh wow, drive too, and to be called "so smart" just because they know physics. Deaf people are not treated that way at Gallaudet because a deep level of respect and understanding exists there. It isn't a cocoon or a world apart from reality as some people imagine. Being part of a signing community provides a sense of balance between living in the hearing world and being understood by deaf and hard of hearing peers.

It is terribly unfair to ridicule a group of people that are misunderstood. Perhaps it would help you and our favorite person Marc to read books such as "When the Mind Hears" by Harlan Lane and "Seeing Voices" by Oliver Sacks to better understand the various constituencies of the deaf community and the controversies regarding oral versus sign communication, educational approaches for deaf and hard of hearing children, etc. Once you learn how the system is split on communication methods and deaf education, you will understand why there are so many different views and backgrounds within and outside of the deaf community. If you want to ridicule something, direct your mockery toward the system.

Posted by: Unfair | October 31, 2006 12:42 PM

Harlan Lane's "When the Mind Hears" is one of the longest and most annoying historical discourse on deaf education.

While it may have reflected the intellectual interests of Dr Lane, it was heavily biased and distorted towards the "oppressed" deaf and did not go past the 19th century.

The second edition of David Wright's book attempted to fill in the blanks.

Sure there has been abuse but the 20th century has seen dramatic advances in technology allowing the deaf to assimilate into the mainstream.

For what it is worth, unless I missed something, Dr Lane has not uttered one statement on the ruckus at Gallaudet.

Oliver Sack's book is a good read but simplistic and naive when it comes to deafness.

The bottom line is that deafness is invisible -- we dont get to hear about the assimilated 99.99% of the deaf people who have no truck with fanatics at Gallaudet and would rather get on coping with the challenges of the real world.

Posted by: Another Deaf Bibliophile | October 31, 2006 1:07 PM

Several friends who attended GU attest to what others have said - the degree from GU is worthless because the graduation rate is so low, the academic standards are low, and it is basically a place where deaf students can come, hang out with others, and exist. No preparation for the real world. Sad that all this tax money is wasted and the students suffer.

That said, the board is worthless, and the students have to be told that they don't run the place.

Just because you pay tuition doesn't give you the right to shut the place down and make demands of who/how things are run. You pay for an education - that's all.

Posted by: Friend of GU Alums | October 31, 2006 1:09 PM

To all of the POStERS from the "jane Fan Club" as well as the other obviously un-researched commenter's on this thread, there is a particular phrase that immediately comes to mind, and that is. "You cannot see the forest for the trees." It is apparent that you have limited your sources of information to jordan & janes ridiculous PR campaign of MISinformation. I am not going to re-hash A-L-L of the points that have already been exhausted, but rather touch on the points that are most apparent to me.
First off, the rather slanted title of this article, "Gallaudet's Grievous Misstep" sets the stage for the opinionated view of the journalist, and I use the word "journalist" loosely. The fact is, Gallaudet's grievous misstep was in allowing an administration to control the upward flow of information, which allowed the administration to govern itself. When you put the fox in charge of the henhouse, you are going to have problems.

I think the BoT made the right decision in kicking jane to the curb. I think a lot of turmoil could have been avoided had it been done sooner, but I attribute this in part to jordan's "Orwellian" system of administration and selective "reframing" of the information that passed through him and from him to the BoT.

The pro-jordan/jane supporters (all three of them) are quick to judge the students as impetuous, arrogant, and best of all... the accusation that they were throwing "temper tantrums" ... I don't know what THEIR dictionary defines as temper tantrums, but my definition would consist of things such as, using a bull-dozer to remove the protestors tents, calling in bogus fire alarms as distractions, intentionally scheduling after-dark arrests for deaf students to further hinder the fear-factor and hinder communications, spreading crap (fertilizer) both literally and figuratively.

All I can say is that as a hearing person, I am proud FOR the protestors for what they accomplished. It is THEIR culture and THEIR community and they have every right to choose the establishment and administrators that represent it. As I have said before, it is the deaf community that makes Gallaudet and not Gallaudet that makes the deaf community, and personally I think this really chafes a lot of the trifling little blog-snipers out there, as well as the pro-establishment supporters. Authority needs to be QUESTIONED and CHALLENGED and on occasion, such as this particular situation, TOPPLED. So whether you like or not, agree with it or not, just deal with it. They came, they saw and they conquered.

And for any of you who think that jane should have had the chance to lead, I leave you with the following quotes.

"All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership." - John Kenneth Galbraith
"You do not lead by hitting people over the head -- that's assault, not leadership." - Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The leader is one who mobilizes others toward a goal shared by leaders and followers. ... Leaders, followers and goals make up the three equally necessary supports for leadership." -- Gary Wills
"He makes a great mistake ... who supposes that authority is firmer or better established when it is founded by force than that which is welded by affection."
-- Terence
"My own definition of leadership is this: The capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence."
-- General Montgomery
Michael "BOHIC"

Posted by: Michael "BOHIC" | October 31, 2006 2:01 PM

"Authority needs to be QUESTIONED and CHALLENGED and on occasion, such as this particular situation, TOPPLED. So whether you like or not, agree with it or not, just deal with it."

I compliment your idealism, but I fear that your attitude is not one that's in line with the way the real, grown-up world works.

Posted by: to Michael BOHIC | October 31, 2006 2:55 PM

Single and denied"What kind of real accountability is there when the matriculation rate at Gallaudet is allowed to dwindle to 40%?..."

Exactly the reason why many Gallaudet faculty, students and alumni protested the selection of JKFernandes...she is part of the administration that demonstrated failed leadership for too long. The faculty,students and alumni siezed this opportunity to protest and unfortunately, it was the only way because the faculty demonstrated their objections (in the past) in various ways and it all fell on "deaf ears."

Posted by: Elsha | October 31, 2006 4:09 PM

The Board of Gallaudet University had long neglected its responsiblities when it abdicated a portion of its power to the "Deaf movement" in 1988 ("Deaf President Now" issue). Perhaps the Board has not come to understand what it had done in regards to their actions that empowered this movement.

From news accounts, it is apparent that University faculty, staff and student protesters know that they have been vested with considerable influence over executive affairs, which have now been exercised twice, and inappropriately (possibly illegally) both times. An outsider cannot help but feel that this is not a normal state of affairs in regards to running a university, which suggests a Pandoras Box of all sorts of issues.

Galludet has been acclaimed as respectable, but what is its mission anyway? Is this a university in a true sense, or has it become some sort of "incubator for "Deaf" culture?"

Congress has a fuduciary duty to investigate and perform a true accounting and publication of their findings of fact.

Burning questions might be: What is the mission of this university? What are the standards for admission and bestowing a degree? How is the university accreditated? By whom? Is this university "on par" with similar universities? Is this a waste of taxpayer dollars?

The promoters and protesters of Gallaudet certainly got the nation's attention. They might, however, rue this day as their role may have catalyzed another movement to investigate the true facts of what has been going on there. I doubt that many of them would want these facts to become publicized.

As for me, I can't wait. I'm calling my Senator and Congressman right now...

Posted by: Arizona Taxpayer | October 31, 2006 4:16 PM

I wasn't commenting on how the "grown-up world SHOULD work" I was simply stating that authority NEEDS to be questioned and challenged in order keep it in check. Otherwise you will have a gross abuse of power. The authority (jordan/jane) at Gallaudet was questioned, challenged and subsequently toppled. I wasn't speaking in generalities, I was referring specifically to the case in point.

Posted by: Michael BOHICK | October 31, 2006 4:40 PM

If the black people really had a say in the Jim Crow laws, would they have had to do a civil rights protest?


Posted by: Wilbrod | October 31, 2006 4:51 PM

Dear Friend of GU Alums:

Again, the faculty also led the protest. The majority of the faculty and staff can hear. The protest was not done by deaf students alone. They just happened to be at the front lines. If the students never had the support of the staff, faculty and alumni as well as major organizations and other supporters outside of Gallaudet, the BoT never would have given in to their demands. There is a lot more to the protest than people think.

Posted by: unfair | October 31, 2006 4:58 PM

The monkeys have taken over and are running the zoo.

Posted by: Monkey See Monkey Do | October 31, 2006 5:49 PM

Yeah, and it's called the Bush Administration.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 31, 2006 8:42 PM

"The JWOD program is directly concerned with employment, so not exactly apples to apples."

Well, heaven forbid, "Gallys" who benefits from tax dollar sponsored education would actually be required to work and earn a paycheck at some point of their cozy campus lifetime. Does Galluadet offer any education that would actually prepare a person to enter a work environment? Wilbod's statement just proves that "Gallys" don't even want to entertain the thought of working.

Posted by: Proof Positive | October 31, 2006 9:12 PM

Yeah, and it's called the Bush Administration.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 31, 2006 08:42 PM

Yet, it's the tax dollars under the Bush Administration (current government) that is funding 70% of Gallaudet. This just keeps getting better. Keep digging.........

Posted by: You'll hit rock bottom soon | October 31, 2006 9:23 PM

And Gallaudet's charter was signed by Abraham Lincoln.

What's your excuse for existing?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 31, 2006 11:11 PM

"What's your excuse for existing?"

Well, I guess someone has to WORK and PAY TAXES in order to fund the 'I'm deaf, therefore I can't work' social club! And, Wilbrod, you might want to be careful about questioning the existance of those that actually pays taxes.

Posted by: Keep em coming! | November 1, 2006 8:40 AM

"Exactly the reason why many Gallaudet faculty, students and alumni protested the selection of JKFernandes...she is part of the administration that demonstrated failed leadership for too long."

Elsha, I'm not saying she should have gotten or kept the job. I really don't have a strong opinion on that because I am not familiar enough with the ins and outs of Gallaudet.

My point is that the BoT and administration will be no more accountable under the next administration or even the one after that because they are, in essence, a government agency. With federal funding at 70%, that is simply what it boils down to. Bureaucracies are inherently inefficient and government bureaucracies take inefficiency to astounding levels. That I am very familiar with.

The accountability to Gallaudet's primary source of income is superficial at best. For all the reports the GAO writes, how much better are our government agencies? How much better is Gallaudet after the GAO's rather bleak assessment?

If accountability were imposed, there would be changes. As long as the government pays your bills, there will be very little accountability. This type of situation is doomed to repeat itself and even though the immediate outcome is what the students wanted, the longterm outlook is rather unchanged.

The type of administration you have hasn't changed. The BoT will continue as they always have and you'll have a different president. Changes will take place, but the fundamental system that shut you out of the process the last two times this has happened is still there.

Gallaudet as an institution would be far better off working toward independence from the government and ensuring that as that happened, commensurate funding was transferred to direct student assistance programs. Then you would have much more autonomy and far less outside interference in the selection of the BoT and the adminsitration.

Institutions are much more responsible with their own money than they are the government's.

Posted by: Single and denied | November 1, 2006 10:26 AM

Dear Keep em Coming:

Thank you so much for pointing out that you work and pay taxes in order to fund the 'I'm deaf, therefore I can't work' social club!' Golly, you seem to have it all figured out. You write about deaf people with such disdain that it's disturbing. Have you done your homework or are you just posting your personal opinions instead? Only a small percentage of deaf people actually receive SSDI and that an even smaller percentage receive SSI compared to other disadvantaged groups.
Deaf people do want to work. They would give anything to be able to have the same career opportunities that hearing people have. Deaf people have been passed over for promotion and disregarded when they apply for jobs because they can't hear. A predictable response from you is probably something along the lines of well then they should take whatever comes to them and be grateful for it no matter how low paying the job. Believe me, they have, and they have to work ten times as hard to prove themselves and still not get any respect. Do you know that UPS tried to deny jobs for deaf drivers recently? What do you have to say to a deaf person who is extremely talented and gifted and holds a degree from a prestigious University other than Gallaudet, and still can't find work except at the local garbage dump?
Try losing your hearing and then your friends and then all of your business contacts and see how well YOU fare.
I bid you a good day.

Posted by: Unfair | November 1, 2006 10:44 AM

(lifts head up from paper number 36 of a total of 66)

Re Stem Cells, and the embryonic v. adult lines:

As part of a family with significant auto-immune disease like:

rh. arthritis
auto-immune nephritis
inflammatory bowel disease
Hashimoto's disease (fluctuating thyroid disease).

I footnote these conversation with this private thought: host-graft disease, immunosuppression therapy -- these are all horrible secondary problems when the immune system identifies alien cells.

Examining what is possible and probable with adult stem cells might sidestep some of the serious problems that result when the immune system begins to act like a police state.

Bone marrow transplants typically rely on adult stem cell donation.

Posted by: College Parkian | November 1, 2006 2:04 PM

Single and denied,
I can understand why you say that Gallaudet should work toward independence from the government. Gallaudet University, unlike any other state and private college & universities, is quite unique. Rather than going into lengthy explanation why it is easier said than done for Gallaudet to become privatized. I would recommend that you read the 2 websites I provided below. I don't expect you to wholly understand but at least learn a little bit about Gallaudet University before making comparison between Gallaudet with other college & universities. You cannot make the same comparison with other bureaucrats and our government!

Yes, there's work to be done at Gallaudet and I am optimistic that it will eventually heal. The agency that oversees Gallaudet University budget and programs will need to step up to the plate. The students, faculty, staff and alumni are now involved and will be watching. I have confidence that Gallaudet will, once again rise up. I would like to quote Dr. Roz Rosen, former vice president of Academic Affairs at Gallaudet University (and is now the director of National Center on Deafness at California State University, Northridge) who said it best, "Right now, to determine what/who is right and what/who is wrong is beside the point. Right now is the time to stem the rapidly imploding situation and to chart a new direction. Right now is the time to stop the negative public relations, emotional and financial hemorrhage caused by the Gallaudet Board and administration's refusal to hear. Right now is the time to right the Gallaudet ship with a different captain, to enable it to sail forth proudly into a bright future, by reopening the search process for the 9th President. This ship is not about weathering perfect storms and catching Moby Dick, but about doing what's best for the constituencies served by the Gallaudet ship, present and future, individually and collectively."

Posted by: Elsha | November 1, 2006 5:49 PM

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