President Emeritus of the Absolutes

Gallaudet’s “President Emeritus” once again uses the Washington Post to poke a stick at not only the protesters that succeeded in having Jane Fernandes’ appointment to President revoked by the Board of Trustees, but at recent history as well. It wasn’t enough that he used the media to spread his and Jane’s false propaganda about her being ‘not deaf enough’ – now he wants to try writing some revisionist history. In today’s Wahington Post, he says:

“There is a very small but vocal group of deaf people who define the community narrowly. I call this group the “absolutists.” They believe you are either deaf or you are not. You are either a supporter of ASL or you are not deaf. You either refuse to consider cochlear implants or you are not deaf. Many of our students, faculty and alumni who consider themselves deaf (including some born deaf to deaf families) would not be considered deaf by the absolutists.”

Absolute Bullshit.

If I.K. Jordan had taken the time to come down and visit and chat with the protesters, and taken the time to actually observe and listen, he would have discovered that the ‘small but very vocal group’ of protesters were not only DEAF. They were deaf, hearing, hard-of-hearing, cochlear wearing, non-cochlear wearing, deaf-blind, and of every color in the family of man. They were signers, non-signers, lip-readers, non-lip-readers, ASLians, non ASLians, Cuers, non-Cuers, SEEers, non-SEEers. They came from all points of this globe we call Earth. In support of Deaf Culture and Gallaudet’s history, they flew in from Australia, Asia, Europe, South America. They drove from all over the USA and Canada. They came, even as the ‘King’ declared Homecoming cancelled in an effort to quiet them. They marched, 4,000 strong, to the Capitol, peacefully. They were blessed with a perfect vision for Gallaudet, all-inclusive of the whole spectrum of deafness.

If there is anyone guilty of absolutist thinking, it is the King himself, and his Queen, and their very small, but vocal group of revisionist history writers, attempting to engage not in a dialogue of inclusiveness and strength, but in divisiveness and smear campaigns. A President Emeritus should care deeply for the institution he once led, and engage in coalition-building. This man, I.K. Jordan, who calls himself President Emeritus of Gallaudet, is not worthy to wear such a lofty title as long as he continues to spread simple lies instead of examining the complex truths.

Ken @ BiblioMarket

Deaf Culture and Gallaudet

By I. King Jordan
Monday, January 22, 2007; A19

When I announced that I was stepping down as president of Gallaudet University, I spoke of the health of the university and said that Gallaudet was well positioned for the future. Sadly, this may no longer be the case. Continue reading

Gallaudet Uprising: Where the Deaf Will Be Heard

The following article was submitted to BiblioMarket for possible publication. While it is somewhat dated, having been written shortly following Fernandes’ termination by the Board of Trustees, I felt it worthwhile to publish a viewpoint from an author Down Under. [Sydney, Australia] / -Ken @ BiblioMarket

By Dumpstered Twin
During the writing of this article, having spent two whole days researching, I found my eyes watering, on the day of the deadline I finally broke-down after having read about all the overwhelming acts that people undertook in order to see a freer society – to know how that oppression feels, to experience discrimination firsthand, makes them our sisters and brothers. I’m afraid I cannot give it the justice that it deserves – I apologise.

On October 29th, 2006 the Board of Trustees finally gave-in to demands to terminate the ingoing president-select Dr Jane K Fernandes after nearly a five month long deaf uprising lead by students, staff, faculty members, and alumni at Gallaudet University, Washington DC. GU is specifically catered for deaf people. The protest intensified last month in which a tent city arose, 135 people were arrested, 6 people went on hunger strike, a security raid was conducted at the student association due to a supposed bomb scare, misinformation disseminated and protestors labeled as ‘terrorists’, job security was put on the line and expulsions threatened, the university was shutdown and various buildings and offices were occupied – and this isn’t counting the numerous solidarity actions and responses around the country and globe.

Contrary to the mainstream press, the protests have not been mainly about the desire to inaugurate an American Sign Language (ASL) -fluent president, “deaf enough” for the seat of power, but instead according to the Gallaudet University Faculty, Staff, Students & Alumni (FSSA) coalition, it is about “our desire for a president of Gallaudet who is fairly chosen, well-qualified, well-respected, and able to best lead and represent us as a growing diverse community” – all the things which Fernandes wasn’t. There is, in addition, also another issue: Fernandes and the majority of the Board, with most being oralist and have average signing capabilities, practice audism (discrimination based on aural ability). With Fernandes at the helm, this would mean that Deaf culture, those who are empowered in being Deaf as opposed to those deaf wanting to act ‘normal’, would be under attack and audism, for example, would be reinforced in an institution where the majority only speak ASL yet the security are not required – the death of Carl Dupree in 1991 was the result of this. That being said, the uprising has only proved to galvanise and unite d/Deaf people. Continue reading

At Universities, Plum Post at Top Is Now Shaky

Gallaudet Protesters are not Alone. Many other colleges and universities are going through or have recently gone through their own protests, for many different reasons, and some for very similar reasons to Gallaudet’s protest. What we did as protesters was not so unusual. What we accomplished IS. But it does not end there.

As can be seen in this New York times article below, the Right to student and faculty expression is alive and well all over the country. The Expression guidelines that I.K. Jordan shoved though last summer in response to the May 2006 protest must be tossed out. If reprisals and accountability are to continue to be enforced against students who were already punished with arrests and fines and a permanent police record, then so too must accountability be expected of every administrative stoogie who carried out destructive orders from I.K. Jordan, Jane Fernandes and Paul Kelly. In a fair and just society, one cannot expect accountability from the youngsters who were fighting for their right to be heard, and not expect equal accountability from the ‘professional’ administrative peons who fought for their right to remain jackasses. It’s time to pin the tail on these donkeys. / -Ken @ BiblioMarket

David A. Caputo, the president of Pace University, has ricocheted from one crisis to another.

The New York Times
January 9, 2007
By Karen W. Arenson

09pace_lg.jpg

Christopher Malone, a faculty member, protesting the arrest of student demonstrators at Pace University. [G. Paul Burnett/The New York Times]

Freshman enrollment this fall at his sprawling, six-campus university in Manhattan and Westchester County plunged after a big tuition increase. That led to a sizable deficit, a hiring freeze, demonstrations, the threat of a no-confidence vote by the faculty, and attacks on his annual compensation of nearly $700,000.

“It’s been a hell of a grim semester,” Dr. Caputo said in a recent interview.

Now he is fighting to save his presidency at a time when many university leaders have been ousted after faculty or student challenges.

The most celebrated case involved Lawrence H. Summers, the former Treasury secretary who resigned the Harvard University presidency last February after a stormy five-year tenure, which included a no-confidence vote by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the prospect of another.

But top officials have also departed after no-confidence votes at a range of other campuses, large and small, public and private, including Gallaudet University, the nation’s premier institution for the deaf; Case Western Reserve, a major research university in Ohio; Baylor University, a Baptist institution in Texas; and the small University of Maine at Presque Isle.

Circumstances vary, but the overthrow of Dr. Summers may have been contagious. Continue reading

CNN Interviews Dr. Davila [text transcript]

PHILLIPS: Straight ahead, a bridge over troubled waters. A renowned educator comes out of retirement to restore calm at Gallaudet University. Dr. Bob Davila joins us live next in the NEWSROOM.

Dr. Davila

PHILLIPS: Not all the big changes in Washington this week are in government: a new interim president took over at Gallaudet University after a year of campus protests.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS (voice-over): Gallaudet is the only university specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students. But it went 124 years without a deaf president. That finally changed in 1988, but not without a fight.

When the Gallaudet board of trustees selected yet another hearing president, that year, students, faculty and alumni revolted and formed a movement called deaf president now. It worked. And Gallaudet soon had its first deaf president, I. King Jordan.

I. KING JORDAN, GALLAUDET PRESIDENT: I am thrilled to accept the invitation on the board of trustees to become the president of Gallaudet University.

PHILLIPS: That 1988 victory has never been forgotten on the Gallaudet campus. And it took on new significance last spring when the time came to choose a successor to Jordan.

The trustees selected Gallaudet’s provost, Jane Fernandes. She was not a popular selection. The reason why is a matter of dispute. Fernandes is deaf, but she had a different background from many members of the Gallaudet community.

JANE FERNANDES, GALLAUDET PRESIDENT-DESIGNATE: I had attended a public school, not a school for the deaf. I had gone to a college other than one that was for deaf people. And I didn’t learn to sign and really met deaf people who did sign until I was 22 years of age. So my emergence into American sign language and culture came later in my life.

PHILLIPS: Some Fernandes supporters claim she simply wasn’t deaf enough for her campus critics. Her critics deny that. They argued that Fernandes was an autocratic provost, insufficiently supportive of students or faculty. Continue reading

Jordan Leaves Gallaudet With Painful Goodbye

Former President’s Legacy May Not Reflect His Tenure

By Susan Kinzie
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 8, 2007; B01

When I. King Jordan announced in fall 2005 to a hushed and expectant crowd at Gallaudet University that he would step down as president of the school for the deaf, people gasped. Many burst into tears. Dozens stood in line to thank him or to sign “I love you.”

That was then.

In the past year, he has faced an onslaught of protests over his support for an unpopular would-be successor, including effigies, a faculty no-confidence vote, insults and accusations, some lingering bitterly through the end of his term Dec. 31.

Jordan in 1988

At Gallaudet, for going on two decades, Jordan’s presidency inspired an intensity of feeling hard to imagine on any other campus. He came in as a hero, a charismatic spokesman who told the world, deaf and hearing, how much was attainable.

It has been a painful goodbye.

Jordan has said many times that the school changed his life, starting when he was a young man stricken deaf in a motorcycle accident who found an education, hope and purpose at Gallaudet. How he changed the private university as its leader is still up for debate.

Nearly everyone agrees that he beautified the historic campus in Northeast Washington, raised its profile and strengthened its relations with Congress. But in a wrenching final year, critics harshly questioned everything from race relations to academic integrity to the school’s relevance.

Robert Davila, who began as interim president this week, takes on a troubled university.

Time will tell whether the controversy that flared up over Jordan’s potential successor is soon forgotten or remains to redefine his legacy. One thing is certain: His tenure ended as explosively as it began. Continue reading

The New Deaf Sport: Out-Ridoring Ridor

It seems, of late, during these balmy, Spring-like January days, a new sport has emerged among the Deaf and hard-of-hearing populace. It is a sport where one attempts to out-ridor Mr. Ridor himself, posting anti-Ridor comments on blogs or writing up opinion pieces that tell Mr. Ridor to get-a-job, such as this one by Jame Berke.

The sport is full-contact, in-your-face brutal, in response to Mr. Ridor’s surprise at not being invited to the upcoming February 3rd “Vlogging/Blogging the Future of Gallaudet” conference. Ridor’s supporters agreed with Ridor that he should have been invited, on the basis of his three years of blogging that has produced a million hits on his blog. Ridor’s opponents, meanwhile, have engaged in roughing-up Ridor on the field itself, posting personal attacks towards Ridor on their blogs or in comments on other people’s blogs.

Ridor has contended that HE, as the most well-known deaf blogger of all, should have been invited to participate. Some have said that WoparSB, Jamie Berke, Teri Sentelle, Brian Riley, Maureen Klusza, Tony McGregor, Dan McClintock, and Barry Strassler, among others, should have been invited. Ridor said that if you have not been blogging for at least SIX months, you’re not a qualified Blogger. Which makes me, right here at BiblioMarket, unqualified to call myself a Blogger. [insert amused smile here...] Ah, well…. But that’s Ridor, and that’s the kind of thing Ridor is known to say. That’s what makes Ridor …..well, Ridor. Most of us have learned to take Ridor’s comments with a grain of salt.

But some felt that was not enough. Some decided to take issue with Ridor’s recent ‘please-donate-to-me’ campaign, putting him down for attempting to make a living through RidorLive.com Continue reading

Deafness as Culture

Thanks to Mike Yared for bringing this article to my attention. Written in 1993, it is still timely today given the atmosphere of fear and intimidation that has prevailed in the 13+ years since it’s publication, at Gallaudet University. Fernandes and Jordan have repeatedly and systematically chipped away at the historical ASL foundation of Gallaudet, and the solid evidence of that which a pure ASL mode of education could provide it’s students, favoring instead the criminal dismantling of the Deaf Culture they themselves had never truly felt a member of, even in their middle age. It was always about the money, for Jordan and Fernandes – in order to attract more money to Gallaudet, they had to attract more students. To attract more students, they had to drastically lower admission standards while at the same time publicly promoting higher expectations of it’s students, placing the burden squarely on the Faculty to create modern day miracles. Many students sorely unqualified for higher education are being baby-sat at Gallaudet for 5 – 7 years. Jesus only had to create wine from water, but the Faculty are expected to distill sewer swill into fine scotch.

This is not to say that students of diverse educational circumstances are not welcome at Gallaudet. I have stated in previous postings that students of any of the various modes of education for the deaf should be and have always been welcomed at Gallaudet, but with the understanding that they would come and submerge themselves into the Deaf Culture and ASL that is our foundation and history. The danger has always been those who come with the express purpose of dismantling Deaf Culture, as Jordan and Fernandes and countless others have. This dangerous thinking has been passed on to thousands of sheep who passed through the Florida Avenue gates. Gallaudet needs to return to it’s past, to the days of promoting and fostering an education system firmly planted in the roots of ASL as the primary means of conveying knowledge to it’s students, and a total submersion, with pride and respect, into Deaf Culture. -Ken @ BiblioMarket

The Atlantic Monthly. ISSN: 02769077
Sep 1993. – Vol.272, – Iss. 3; – pg. 37, [12 pgs.]

by Edward Dolnick

In 1773, on a tour of Scotland and the Hebrides
Islands, Samuel Johnson visited a school for deaf
children. Impressed by the students but daunted by
their predicament, he proclaimed deafness “one of the
most desperate of human calamities.” More than a
century later Helen Keller reflected on her own life
and declared that deafness was a far greater hardship
than blindness. “Blindness cuts people off from
things,” she observed. “Deafness cuts people off from
people.”

For millennia deafness was considered so catastrophic
that very few ventured to ease its burdens. Isolation
in a kind of permanent solitary confinement was deemed
inevitable; a deaf person, even in the midst of urban
hubbub, was considered as unreachable as a fairy-tale
princess locked in a tower. The first attempts to
educate deaf children came only in the sixteenth
century. As late as 1749 the French Academy of
Sciences appointed a commission to determine whether
deaf people were “capable of reasoning.” Today no one
would presume to ignore the deaf or exclude them from
full participation in society. But acknowledging their
rights is one thing, coming to grips with their plight
another. Deafness is still seen as a dreadful fate.

Lately, though, the deaf community has begun to speak
for itself. To the surprise and bewilderment of
outsiders, its message is utterly contrary to the
wisdom of centuries: Deaf people, far from groaning
under a heavy yoke, are not handicapped at all.
Deafness is not a disability. Instead, many deaf
people now proclaim, they are a subculture like any
other. They are simply a linguistic minority (speaking
American Sign Language) and are no more in need of a
cure for their condition than are Haitians or
Hispanics. Continue reading

Text Transcript and Videos : Dr. Davila / Welcome Back

President Davila shares his plans with the campus community

Choose your video version:

[Text Transcript of Video Message follows- thanks to Brian Riley for providing the transcript]

Hello, and welcome back to the campus. I hope that you and your families had a really pleasant holiday and that you are rested, because we really have a lot of things that we need to do together, and I would like to share some points and ideas with you, and tell you a little bit about what my plans are for the next few weeks and what our priorities will be.

After the announcement of my appointment as the 9th President last month, I knew that there were many things to be done, so I needed to come here [to the campus] to study and learn. There were many individuals that I needed to speak with here, and groups that I needed to talk to and exchange ideas with. So I’ve been here for a few weeks now, and I feel comfortable with my level of understanding about the issues and problems that we must work on, and I’m looking forward to the next 18 to 24 months. Continue reading

Welcome message from President Robert R. Davila

January 2, 2007

Dear Faculty, Teachers, Staff, Students, Alumni and Friends of Gallaudet University:

Today is my first day on the job as interim president. It is with a great sense of purpose and humility that I write to you. It is an honor and a privilege to come home and to have an opportunity to serve the community at Gallaudet University. I extend my personal thanks and appreciation to the Board of Trustees for appointing me and for demonstrating confidence in my ability to provide the leadership that will be required during my tenure.

As a community we have had a difficult year in 2006. Today we begin a new year. Together we can heal the hurt and seek greater understanding from one another. We have an opportunity to make Gallaudet an even better university and preserve its leadership role as the world’s major resource for deaf and hard of hearing people. In the coming days and weeks, I will be looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible. I will be scheduling a number of opportunities for us to meet formally and informally. It is my intention for these meetings to be the beginning of ongoing dynamic conversations and exchanges among all of us, including other stakeholders from our national and international communities. Together, through open processes, we will define the challenges that lie before us and plan collectively to overcome them. Together we will find innovative solutions and make the hard choices that will assist our university to achieve greatness. Continue reading