Protests Shut University for Deaf a 2nd Day

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
The New York Times

October 13, 2006 Friday
Late Edition - Final
Section A; Column 4; National Desk; Pg. 16
884 words
Protests Shut University for Deaf a 2nd DayBy DIANA JEAN SCHEMO; Lakiesha Carr contributed reporting.
WASHINGTON, Oct. 12

Students at Gallaudet University, the nation’s only liberal arts university for the deaf, formed a human blockade across the front gates of the campus here Thursday, shutting down classes for the second day in a renewal of protests that began last spring against the choice of a new president.
The police stood by on motorcycles and on horseback across the street from the students, who said their protest would continue despite a strong warning from the departing president, I. King Jordan, that they could face suspension and arrest.
’‘I’m ready to be arrested,’’ said Kathleen Roberts Jarashow, an English major from Tallahassee, Fla. ‘‘It’s for a good cause, something I believe in.’‘
It was not clear whether officials planned to use force to open the university. In a statement Wednesday night, Dr. Jordan had said, ‘‘This illegal and unlawful behavior must stop,’’ and accused faculty members of ‘‘instigating and manipulating the students’’ who are demanding that Jane K. Fernandes, the former provost who is to take over as president in January, step aside.
’‘If there is a confrontation, the dissenters will have caused it,’’ he said. ‘‘They must take full responsibility for the consequences of their actions, including possible suspension and arrest.’’ The university’s board has said its decision was ‘‘fair and final,’’ and that it would not reopen the search for a new president.
Demonstrations against Dr. Fernandes began last spring with students and faculty members saying she did not appreciate the primacy of American Sign Language at Gallaudet and in deaf culture and lacked leadership qualities. Since then the complaints have only escalated.
Though students and faculty members were on the presidential search committee, protesters complained that their voices were not heard, and that the search was biased to favor Dr. Fernandes, who has the support of Dr. Jordan. They point to an incident that occurred when Dr. Jordan announced he would step down. With Dr. Fernandes nearby, they said, he introduced her as ‘‘the next president,’’ before correcting himself.
Protesters complain that Dr. Fernandes has intimidated and ‘‘oppressed’’ faculty members and students and say that she received tenure last year despite a lack of published scholarly research.
In a statement on Wednesday, Dr. Fernandes said she had no intention of stepping down, adding, ‘‘We live in a country that is governed by the rule of law, not anarchy.’’ Mercy Coogan, a spokeswoman for the university, said that Dr. Fernandes had extensive scholarly publications to her name and that students should give her a chance to prove herself.
The standoff at Gallaudet is not the first of its kind there. Eighteen years ago, in an action that has become legendary in the deaf community, protesters succeeded in forcing Gallaudet to appoint its first deaf president, Dr. Jordan.
’‘Now that we’ve become more sophisticated,’’ said Leala Holcomb, a sophomore from Fremont, Calif., '‘we want the best deaf president, not just any deaf president.’'
Last spring’s protests were rekindled as the board gathered to meet here last week, and students occupied a building. The administration sent in campus security, and protesters accused the security police of using pepper spray, shoving them and choking one student. The problem, they said, was that the officers did not know sign language, and could not understand protesters when they insisted their protest was peaceful.
University officials denied that pepper spray had been used and said they would investigate. On Thursday, the students demanded that the three security officers involved be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.
This week, the two sides were in negotiations over a way to ease tensions. But talks broke down, and around 3 a.m. Wednesday, members of the football team moved to block the front gates and close the campus down entirely.
A group of faculty members have backed the protesters by calling on Dr. Fernandes to resign, and students have vowed not to budge until she does. But other students and faculty members have argued that the protesters are denying students their right to an education.
The dispute seems to be escalating beyond the presidential issue. At a faculty meeting several days ago, disagreements erupted when a deaf faculty member asked that the meeting be held exclusively in sign language, rather than in voice and sign language simultaneously.
Doing both has long been the norm at Gallaudet, something that some faculty members and protesters would like to change by instituting a ‘‘sign only’’ policy. They argue that signing without the use of spoken language should be the norm at the premier university for the deaf.
The two sides met again Thursday afternoon. Dr. Jordan said the purpose was to ‘‘explain the function of the police.’’ Protesters, who were initially divided over whether to meet with the administration, agreed to do so with the proviso that there be no negotiations.
The protesters have demanded that Dr. Fernandes come to speak with them, but said privately that there was nothing that she could conceivably say to change their minds.
Through Ms. Coogan, Dr. Fernandes offered to ‘‘talk with the dissenters once they decide to stop holding the campus hostage.’’

Photo: I. King Jordan, departing president of Gallaudet University, left, with a police officer amid the protests over the choice of a new president. (Photo by Andrew Cutraro for The New York Times)
October 13, 2006

wow, I always thought that “the school of the deaf’s football team” was like the “little sisters of the poor” joke

[URL=http://athletics.gallaudet.edu/fball.php]http://athletics.gallaudet.edu/fball.php[/URL]

sad.

Wow… moving up from club football to Div. 3
I would like to see them play sometime. It is probably a unique expeirence

A little off-topic, but I remember hearing (no pun intended) that Stefan LeFors is the only person in his immediate family that could hear. That helped with his on-field communication ability because he was used to signing and using hand signals instead of yelling, which doesn’t work so well on the road.

More on this issue. Its getting pretty serious over there.

Copyright 2006 The Chronicle of Higher Education
All Rights Reserved
The Chronicle of Higher Education

October 27, 2006 Friday
STUDENTS; Pg. 1 Vol. 53 No. 10
2252 words
Campus Rift Continues to Widen at GallaudetBURTON BOLLAG and ELIZABETH F. FARRELL
Washington

The arrests this month of 133 protesters who had blocked the main entrance to Gallaudet University allowed classes to resume but did not end the crisis at the nation’s only university for the deaf. In fact, students involved in the protests said the arrests and the decision of the university’s president, I. King Jordan, to postpone homecoming festivities had rallied even more supporters to their cause.
“The arrests did not only inflame the community,” said Ryan K. Commerson, a master’s-degree student in cultural studies who is one of the protest leaders. They have "also instilled a deeper resolve to push on."
Faculty members, who met three days after the arrests, overwhelmingly sided with the protesting students: 138 of the 168 who met voted for a resolution demanding that the president-designate, Jane K. Fernandes, resign or be fired. The evening after the vote, about 40 faculty members conducted an impromptu protest of their own, marching from the student academic center to Mr. Jordan’s house on the campus.
Opponents say Ms. Fernandes, who is scheduled to become president in January, is not a strong enough advocate for deaf people and makes decisions without adequately consulting others at the 142-year-old institution.
The dispute has also cut a rift into the wider community of deaf Americans, pitting Gallaudet’s administrators and most of its trustees against many faculty members, students, and alumni, who appear to have the sympathy, if not the outright support, of deaf groups off the campus.
In the faculty members’ march on Mr. Jordan’s house, professors carried candles they had hastily bought at a dollar store a few hours earlier, along with homemade signs that read “Jane Resign Now.” Faculty members who attended the march said Mr. Jordan was surprised and disappointed to see them on his doorstep.
“At first he was at a loss for words and kept shaking his head,” said Diane Morton, a professor in the counseling department. "He then admitted he was surprised by the number of faculty who voted against Ms. Fernandes."
Ms. Morton said the president had agreed that night to meet with a smaller group of faculty members, but that he had not yet done so. Through a university spokeswoman, Mr. Jordan declined to comment.
Student protesters also remained busy late last week. In addition to holding rallies twice a day, they made plans to march on Capitol Hill and said they expected to attract at least 1,000 protesters, including students, alumni, faculty members, and other supporters.
Gallaudet received about $108-million in federal support in the 2006 fiscal year, and three members of Congress serve as trustees: Sen. John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Reps. Ray LaHood, Republican of Illinois, and Lynn C. Woolsey, Democrat of California.
The timing of the march, which coincided with the previously scheduled homecoming weekend, made it more likely that alumni would be actively involved. Students from other universities with programs for deaf students, including the University of Maryland at College Park and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, part of the Rochester Institute of Technology, were also expected to march with them.
Gallaudet students vowed to find a way to continue with their planned homecoming festivities, despite Mr. Jordan’s decision to postpone those events, including the football game. Mercy Coogan, a spokeswoman for Gallaudet, said university officials had no plans to prevent students from celebrating the occasion with traditional barbecues and parties, and had canceled only university-sponsored events that would have drawn big crowds.
“We will attempt to cooperate with individuals who are already on campus and who have catering events they have already paid for,” she said. "We don’t want confrontation, we want safety."
By the middle of last week, the resolve of the students and faculty members seemed to have influenced the positions of some of the trustees, who told The Washington Post that they were divided on the issue of Ms. Fernandes’s appointment. Through Ms. Coogan, Ms. Fernandes later confirmed that some trustees had asked her to step down as president-designate.
But Ms. Coogan said that despite the open dissent, Ms. Fernandes remained resolute.
“She certainly felt blindsided that they went public with private communications,” the spokeswoman said. "But she came back this morning and said she is going to remain as president-designate and plans to assume the office in January."
The situation at Gallaudet intensified after Mr. Jordan called in the police to deal with protesters. Many students, faculty members, and alumni said the decision felt like a betrayal to them. Consequently, a majority of faculty members voted no confidence in Mr. Jordan, a stunning reversal for a leader who, until the protests, had been widely admired.
Student protest leaders vowed to boycott classes in support of their demands that the search for a new president be reopened. While classes continued as scheduled, faculty members said they noted a greater number of students absent than usual, according to Ms. Coogan.
Early last week, protesters continued to block the main gate, but a gate on the northeastern side of the campus was open, and administrators said it would serve temporarily as the main entrance. To safely shepherd people and cars through that gate, the university hired a private security firm, Ms. Coogan said.
While the protesters refrained from bothering anyone at the open entrance, that may change if the administration continues to ignore their demands, said Earl Blackburn Mikell, a junior majoring in business administration.
“It’s likely to happen when the administration makes another bad move,” he said, using instant messaging. "The students are intent on making it clear to the administration that we control the university, not them."
But Mr. Jordan said in a written statement that he would not give in to a “mob” that wanted to impose its will.
“Let me be clear,” he wrote. "Dr. Fernandes will not resign."
Brenda Jo Brueggemann, chair of the Board of Trustees, told The Chronicle in an e-mail message last Thursday morning that even after learning that some of her fellow board members had changed their minds about their choice as the next president, she still supported Ms. Fernandes.
“As I have stated before, Dr. Fernandes needs to be given a chance,” said Ms. Brueggemann. “She was appointed to the position of president of Gallaudet University, and she has not yet taken the reins nor been given a chance to prove herself. Dr. Fernandes was our most qualified candidate for this position.”
‘Saddest’ Night
Student protesters had occupied the main classroom building since October 5, but the situation escalated drastically six days later, when students, led by members of the football team, sealed off all of the university’s entrances before dawn.
The arrests started around 9 p.m. on October 13, under the glare of police floodlights. Sign-language interpreters were provided by the university. Protesters, told that they were under arrest, went limp as they were carried into police vans. In some cases, other protesters took their place in the line of people blocking the entrance road.
Those arrested were taken to a police facility and given the choice of paying a $50 fine or receiving a citation, which requires a court appearance. No arrest-related injuries were reported.
Mr. Jordan, who will finish 18 years as Gallaudet’s president at the end of the year, had requested police intervention to reopen the campus after failing to persuade students to end their blockade. “Last night was one of the saddest of my life,” he said in a written statement the day after the police intervention.
“I want to be clear that we did not choose to arrest the students,” he wrote. "They chose to be arrested. But the result was the same."
Mr. Jordan, who was swept into office in 1988, has been a popular leader. In fact, his appointment as president was the result of a campus movement 19 years ago called Deaf President Now, which involved a march on Capitol Hill similar to the one current students have planned in opposition to his successor. But Mr. Jordan’s past popularity appears to be falling victim to the current crisis.
Many alumni and faculty members who had spent time with the protesting students were upset by his decision to call in the police to a place that has become for many the center of deaf culture in America. Faculty members were “horrified and profoundly sad,” said Carol J. Erting, chair of Gallaudet’s education department.
“I don’t think I can describe how profoundly upsetting it was to everyone I’ve talked to,” she said.
Bobbie Beth Scoggins, president of the National Association of the Deaf, said in a statement that “less drastic options” should have been explored first. "These arrests should never have happened."
But Mr. Jordan said in a separate written statement, "The administration negotiated with the leaders of the protests in good faith and around the clock. There was a complete lack of good faith on the part of the protesters."
In a move designed to counter charges of insensitivity, Gallaudet’s administration announced hours before the arrests that it had retained Eric H. Holder Jr., a former U.S. deputy attorney general who is now a lawyer in a private practice, to lead an investigation into allegations that campus security guards had used excessive force during the student occupation of the main classroom building several days before the start of the campus takeover.
Underlying Issues
Protests against the choice of Ms. Fernandes, who has been provost at Gallaudet, began last May almost immediately after the trustees named her the next president of the university. Students demonstrated and the faculty passed a vote of no confidence in her. Ms. Fernandes is deaf but was raised in an “oral” environment, learning sign language only at the age of 23.
Opponents say that the search process for a new president was flawed, and that faculty and student views were not adequately taken into account. Among other things, opponents question why, despite the increasingly multiracial character of the campus, all three finalists were white.
In a commentary published in The Washington Post the day after the arrests, Ms. Fernandes said she saw the opposition to her mainly as a sign of turmoil among deaf people over how to deal with challenges to their traditions and culture. Medical advances like cochlear implants are restoring a degree of hearing undreamed of a decade or two ago, raising doubts about the future of American Sign Language, she said.
In addition, she wrote, the presidential search brought to the fore issues of racism, and of discrimination by hearing people, known as "audism."
Those issues have long been just under the surface, she wrote. When it came time to choose a new president for Gallaudet, "they erupted like a volcano. I happened to be the person standing next to that volcano."
The crisis was felt far beyond the gates of the campus, as deaf people looked on with deep concern. Alumni have traveled to Washington to join the protests, and tent encampments were erected elsewhere – reportedly on more than 50 sites in 38 states – in solidarity with protesting students at Gallaudet.
Glenn B. Anderson, a professor of rehabilitation counseling at the University of Arkansas who was chair of Gallaudet’s Board of Trustees until 2005, said all concerned parties would have to give a little if a solution were to be found. The National Association of the Deaf has offered to mediate.
“Trust and leadership … are tragically absent” at Gallaudet, the association’s president, Ms. Scoggins, said in her statement. She warned that "further escalation can very well lead to additional arrests … and even mass exodus of students withdrawing from the university."
Mr. Anderson said recruitment of new students and financial appropriations from Congress, Gallaudet’s main source of support, could suffer.
Long-Term Effects
While many faculty members, students, and alumni focused on their immediate goal of forcing the resignation of Ms. Fernandes, a smaller group of students and professors said they worried about the emotional toll the controversy was taking on the community.
“Something has got to give,” said Mark S. Weinberg, a professor of foreign languages and chair of the university faculty. "If things continue the way they’re going now, we’re going to implode."
Even if the controversy were to be resolved in favor of one side, both have already sacrificed a lot, said Drew Robarge, a senior who had previously served in Gallaudet’s student government. Although he does not support Ms. Fernandes’s appointment, he stopped participating in the protests after the protesters blocked access to academic buildings.
“This is a struggle where both sides cannot afford to lose,” he said in an e-mail message.
If the administration gives up, Mr. Robarge said, they risk more challenges to their authority in the future and might find themselves at the whim of the masses. On the other hand, students who have risked their time and education to take a stand against Ms. Fernandes are likely to become further disillusioned with the institution if their demands are not met, he said.
“Perhaps it is the fallout that we should be concerned with as well as the current situation,” said Mr. Robarge. “When this conflict is resolved, it is not going to be a day of joy for either the administration or the protesters, and that, in reality, is sad.”

October 25, 2006

Though students and faculty members were on the presidential search committee, protesters complained that their voices were not heard...

I just thought this part was funny. They were also disappointed when they held “Honk For A New President” signs beside the highway.

[QUOTE=Hooligan;194703]I just thought this part was funny. They were also disappointed when they held “Honk For A New President” signs beside the highway.[/QUOTE]
Man, I would really think they would choose their words a little better…

I just thought this part was funny. They were also disappointed when they held "Honk For A New President" signs beside the highway.

:lmao: I hate to laught at that, I really do. And consider this a blessed occasion, when I actually like what you said. HILARIOUS. but wrong. :wow:

[B][COLOR=green]And the Students WIN[/COLOR][/B]
[B][COLOR=#008000][/COLOR][/B]

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
The New York Times

October 30, 2006 Monday
Late Edition - Final
Section A; Column 5; National Desk; Pg. 1
1106 words
At Gallaudet, Board Gives Up On New LeaderBy DIANA JEAN SCHEMO
WASHINGTON, Oct. 29

Surrendering to months of widening and unrelenting protests by students, faculty, alumni and advocates, the board of trustees of Gallaudet University, the nation’s premier university for the deaf, abandoned its choice of the institution’s next president.
In an announcement Sunday night that followed an all-day emergency meeting of the trustees, convened at a hotel in Virginia far from Gallaudet’s Northeast Washington campus, the board announced ‘‘with much regret and pain’’ that it would terminate the contract of Jane K. Fernandes, the former provost trustees named in May to succeed the outgoing president of 18 years, I. King Jordan. The board said it was acting ‘‘in the best interests of the university.’’
’‘Although undoubtedly there will be some members of the community who have differing views on the meaning of this decision, we believe that it is a necessity at this point,’’ the trustees wrote.
The victory of the protesters at Gallaudet represents a signal moment in the fight over deaf culture. It will almost certainly mean the next president must be seen as firmly committed to nurturing a deaf identity among students and advocating for deaf rights. Though opponents called Dr. Fernandes a poor leader, lacking in charisma, she herself maintained that they did not consider her culturally ‘‘deaf enough.’‘
The battle over Gallaudet’s future erupted at a time of massive change in the deaf world, with technological advances like cochlear implants and more effective hearing aids being felt by many in the forefront of the deaf-rights movement as an assault on deaf culture and deaf identity. The turnaround ends months of protests over the board’s choice that had rippled from Gallaudet to polarize deaf communities across the United States.
It is also the second consecutive time that protests forced the board’s hand in choosing a president. Eighteen years ago, in a struggle that became a watershed for deaf rights, demonstrators succeeded in forcing a reluctant board of trustees to name Gallaudet’s first deaf president in more than 100 years in Dr. Jordan.
This time, protesters locked down the campus for several days and turned the university’s entrance into a tent city of the disaffected. Last week, the protesters had seized overnight an administration building that houses the office of the president. They were forcibly removed the following morning, with at least two students suffering injuries.
Dr. Fernandes, 50, who had insisted that her adversaries give her the chance to lead the university, said in a statement that she learned of the board’s decision ‘‘with deep regret.’’
’‘I love Gallaudet University and I believe I could have made a significant contribution to its future,’’ Dr. Fernandes wrote. ‘‘I hope that the Gallaudet community can heal the wounds that have been created. I trust that we all want a stronger, better, more inclusive Gallaudet, where A.S.L. and Deaf culture have been and always will be at the core of academic and community life.’‘
Demonstrators, who had vowed to shut down the campus Monday in what they called ‘‘a day of mourning’’ if the board did not agree to their demands, were euphoric upon learning that they had unseated Dr. Fernandes. Some had made the 30-mile trip to the hotel where the board met, while others rallied at the campus.
Joshua Toz, a student who attended the campus protest, said in an e-mail message that ‘‘students burst into tears of happiness’’ upon hearing of their victory. ‘‘Hands went up and mouths opened and screamed,’’ he said.
At a ceremony at the football field, Mr. Toz wrote, students burned an effigy of Dr. Fernandes, known on campus as J.K. ‘‘We worked hard and finally broke the hold J.K. had on the president-designate’s position. Gallaudet University is now ours,’’ he wrote.
Ryan Commerson, a graduate student who led the protesters, said he initially had trouble believing that the board had really given in. Leala Holcomb, another protest leader, said that she, too, was shocked.
Deborah Chen Pichler, an assistant professor of linguistics, said she was ‘‘guardedly thrilled’’ that the board backed down. She said her elation was tempered by an awareness that emerged during the protests of how widespread the dissatisfaction was among students and colleagues over a range of issues at the campus, not just the choice of Dr. Fernandes.
Dr. Chen Pichler said that protesters doubted Dr. Fernandes’s commitment to upholding the primacy of American Sign Language on campus, and that the next person selected would have to be strongly committed to reinforcing what is often referred to as Deaf culture – with a capital D – at Gallaudet.
Dr. Chen Pichler said the protests were ‘‘always about more than Jane Fernandes, but she personified these bad decisions at Gallaudet that had been made for years and years.’‘
While the university is open to students from all traditions – those who sign exclusively, who speak and read lips or who sign spoken language – many protesters want the university to ban spoken language in classes and official meetings because it is easier for deaf people to understand American Sign Language.
’‘The next group chosen for finalists have to be sensitive to that,’’ Dr. Chen Pichler said.
Dr. Jordan, who had supported Dr. Fernandes to succeed him, said he was ‘‘deeply troubled by the divisions among us and by the anger that overtook reason, respect and civility.’’ His own standing had suffered in the battle over Gallaudet’s next president. Though once cherished as an icon of success in the struggle for deaf rights, he now ends his tenure as president here with a no-confidence vote from his faculty.
He urged unity, and thanked Dr. Fernandes for ‘‘her dedication and courage and her standing up for what’s right.’’
’‘Now, we must all put down our weapons of words and seek to restore a sense of community,’’ he wrote.
But a statement from the board also said that protesters would be held responsible for their actions of recent weeks. While respecting the right to peaceful protest, board members said, '‘Individuals who violated the law and Gallaudet University’s Code of Conduct will be held accountable.’'
Dr. Fernandes had argued that Gallaudet’s survival depended on aggressively recruiting among all deaf students, and in harnessing any available technology to help them advance. While she said American Sign Language would play a crucial role at Gallaudet, she also said, in a recent interview, that she could never envision banning spoken language at Gallaudet. In a faculty vote several weeks ago, 82 percent of the faculty demanded that she step down.

October 30, 2006

I can’t believe they complained she wasn’t “deaf” enough because she didn’t learn ASL until 21.
Who of all people shouldn’t discriminate? A group that has been discriminated against since the beginning of time. The irony is so rich.
How can you be in a minority group, & discriminate against the minority of your minority?

That last sentence actually made sense… Bravo.

it’s the same thing as someone saying you’re not “white enough” or “black enough”. A HBCU (Historically Black College/University) would or could do the same thing to someone who was not “black” enough for the students’ liking. Same thing with an all-women’s school with students saying they won’t accept a male president. It’s the chicken or egg type of debate where people protest the Master’s for being held at an all-male country club, yet there are women all over the country in women’s-only clubs. Live and let live people, don’t worry about everyone else!

In all seriousness, though, I see the students’ point in the debate - to them, ASL is their language, and she didn’t learn it til she was what, 21? That would be like me, a full-on American speaking only English, picking up Spanish and then going on to become the president of a Spanish-speaking school. Extreme example, to be sure, but that’s as close a comparison as one can make.

[QUOTE=stonecoldken;195916]I can’t believe they complained she wasn’t “deaf” enough because she didn’t learn ASL until 21.
Who of all people shouldn’t discriminate? A group that has been discriminated against since the beginning of time. The irony is so rich.
How can you be in a minority group, & discriminate against the minority of your minority?[/QUOTE]
It makes me sick to my stomach, but I’m in total agreement with SCK here. What a paltry reason to get in a fit. So she didn’t learn ASL till she was 21… do they even know her childhood background which might explain why her educational and communicative path was different than theirs?

Regardless of the reasoning (or lack thereof), they did an amazing job with the protest and ended up succeeding. Kudos to them on that. Now that all of this is over and many of them will be suspended or kicked out of school, I wonder if they’d be available to help us pitch a protest on a far greater travesty… lack of football here. Please have your lawn ready, Dr. Phil.

Apparently it ment alot to the students, that they actually won in the end.

I agree with Brick. It makes alot of sense. It wasnt the only reason either, they think they was going to detract from the traditionalist Deaf culture. Now I can see where some people would say, “Thats good, moving forward”, but culture and family is big to me, and honestly, if someone told me I should eat Indian food with a fork and knife, I would tell them **** off too.

In all, I think thy just want to keep what culture they have, intact, and keep the school a strictly ASL school.

Copyright 2006 The Washington Post

The Washington Post

November 8, 2006 Wednesday
Final Edition
Metro; B01
510 words
Gallaudet Trustees Chair Resigns;
McCain Also Leaves BoardSusan Kinzie, Washington Post Staff Writer

The chair of the Gallaudet University board of trustees resigned last night, the day after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) stepped down from the board because he disagreed with the decision to end the appointment of incoming president Jane K. Fernandes.
“I cannot in good conscience continue to serve the board after its decision to terminate her appointment, which I believe was unfair and not in the best interests of the University,” McCain wrote to outgoing President I. King Jordan on Monday night. The letter, which was distributed to board members, was obtained by The Washington Post.
Brenda Jo Brueggemann, the board chair, said in an e-mail last night that she had been thinking about stepping down since the meeting last week, when the board voted to terminate Fernandes’s appointment.
In a written statement last night, she wrote that her personal life and work as a professor at Ohio State University had suffered considerably in the months since May, when she took over from the interim board chair, Celia May Baldwin. Baldwin had resigned amid protests that began when Fernandes was named incoming president May 1, saying she had received threats.
The campus in Northeast Washington was shaken last month by increasingly intense protests, as students, faculty and alumni continued to demand that a new president be named at the school for the deaf. The protesters said Fernandes, who had been provost, was an ineffective leader and was chosen in an unfair search. Fernandes said the debate was over the importance of sign language and other issues in deaf culture; she grew up speaking and learned to sign in her 20s.
Both Jordan and Brueggemann strongly supported Fernandes, who they said was a strong leader.
McCain was unable to attend the meeting last week and did not participate in the decision, he wrote. He said that he deeply respected and admired Jordan’s leadership over the past 18 years but that he had to resign from the board effective immediately.
The board’s 20 members – now 18 – have included three from Congress. Reps. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) and Lynn C. Woolsey (D-Calif.) will remain on the board, according to aides. The bulk of Gallaudet’s budget is provided by the federal government every year.
Some trustees reacted with shock last night when asked about Brueggemann’s decision. And in an e-mail last night, Fernandes called Brueggemann "a model of respectful and inclusive leadership."
The board is scheduled to meet Saturday on campus to discuss the process of choosing an interim president.
“I continue to believe in the mission and vision of Gallaudet University as it is currently expressed,” Brueggemann’s statement said, "and will continue to work, as best I can as a scholar of Deaf studies and a hard-of-hearing person, to insure that the 8 strategic goals that currently guide Gallaudet University are being further developed and implemented. . . .
“I do not believe I can be the most effective member of the board to lead Gallaudet through the next steps,” Brueggemann said in her statement.
November 8, 2006

Gill…I will give you this much…You have been all over this deaf college thing…

Well done!

I liek what there doing over there. Students are taking a stand for something they beleive in.