Sunday, October 15, 2006

Gallaudet Reopens Amid Continued Protests -

Gallaudet Reopens Amid Continued Protests -

For the last few weeks the protests taking place at Gallaudet Univ. have made big news in the Washington DC area, and nationwide. I have watched quietly from the sidelines, wanting to blog on the subject, but knowing that as soon as I do I'm opening myself up to some serious negative feedback. But today as I read the reports on arrests and the continuing protests, I decided it was time to give in and say something.


At no other university would this sort of protest and disruption be allowed to go on. Stop and ask yourself if it is appropriate for students to refuse to go to class because they don't like the principal? Any other place in the world the response to students staging such a protest would be, "If you don't like the school, then don't go to this school!" No one is forcing these students to attend there. If they absolutely insist that they must have a deaf president, then choose to go to a school that offers one.

The deaf community loves to tout their mantra that "the only thing deaf people can't do is hear." They demand to be treated equally, and will even get rude with you if you attempt to treat them differently for their disability. Many are even offended if you call their hearing loss a disability. But the bottom line is, they are wrong. There are several things deaf people don't do as well as hearing people because of their disability. One of them is communicate equally with the hearing and oral world. In my experiences (and I have had several in-depth experiences) with the deaf culture the one thing I have learned is that they have a very difficult time expressing themselves fully, which leads to frustration, and angry outbursts, that quite frankly would never be considered acceptable by the hearing and oral world. If we threw such temper tantrums we would be punished and/or outcasted for such behaviors. But we apologize to the deaf community for our inability to understand them fully.

What does this have to do with Gallaudet? Everything. Students at any other university would be expelled or forced off campus for such behaviors. Students protesting an administrator would hardly make the back page of the local newspaper. It wouldn't garner national attention. So why are we paying attention to Gallaudet? Because of the novelty of it.

The resentment toward Fernandes has been building for a long time. Some former employees at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center on Gallaudet's campus are still upset about her leadership there a decade ago, saying she created an atmosphere of distrust. Some professors are still unhappy they were not consulted about her appointment as provost six years ago.
And some black students and staff members were upset by the presidential search process, which eliminated a strong African American candidate in favor of three white people.

Above all, this gets on my nerves because it screams of reverse discrimination. Jane Fernandes is perfectly well-qualified for her position as university president from what I have read. The discrimination against her is pretty much only that she isn't deaf. Isn't that reverse discrimination? And why should a candidate ever be considered just for the color of their skin? Shouldn't it always be that we select candidates because they are the best candidate meeting all of the needed pre-requisites?

Personally I think a non-deaf president is good for the university. A univ. president is the liaison to the outside world, garnering support, funding, etc from surrounding communities. Fernandes is not deaf, but knows the deaf community better than almost all other hearing people. Doesn't that make her the best of both worlds? She knows how to be a school president, she knows the hearing world, and she knows the deaf world. In my opinion, an excellent candidate. And kudos to her for not backing down to the students' temper tantrums and protests.

Reverse discrimination helps no one. Gallaudent Students- shut up and go back to class. Get an education so you can find out you're acting like babies.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:30 PM

    FYI Jane is DEAF! Her parent and brother are also deaf, all of her family members support her! Not every deaf person supports Gallaudet Protest. Deaf people in Utah and other states are still surprised to hear about Galladuet. Believe it or not, many hearing students at Gallaudet (both UnGrad and Grad hearing students) are involved in the protest. Is it weird? Yes I agree that students at Gallaudet are immature and should have done better. I don't agree with you about the hearing person can do better job than deaf peson in the deaf community. Do not forget that NOT every deaf person has the same opnion. Watch what you say/write.
    I personally like Jane because she has been working very hard.


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