At Gallaudet, Peace

As Tents Come Down, Protesters’ Sense of Victory in Ouster Of Incoming President Contrasts With Some Officials’ Concerns

By David A. Fahrenthold and Susan Kinzie

Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 31, 2006; Page B01

On the front lawn of Gallaudet University yesterday, tents were being taken down and sleeping bags rolled up. A day after the ouster of the school’s incoming president ended a month of bitter protests, the campus was returning to normal.

But on a rowhouse across Florida Avenue NE from the main gate, a message written on a sheet showed that strong emotions remained underneath Gallaudet’s new calm. It said:


First they ignore you

Then they ridicule you

Then they arrest you


A sense that the termination of the appointment of president-designate Jane K. Fernandes was a significant victory, and one that gave student, faculty and alumni demonstrators new leverage and unity at the university, was widespread. Protest leaders said they would make sure the next presidential search is more open and did not rule out further action if they don’t approve of Fernandes’s replacement.

“We need a person who is accepted by the community,” signed Ryan Commerson, a Gallaudet graduate student and protest leader. “We need a person who respects us, who respects our — excuse me, for lack of a better word — voice.”

While many on campus celebrated, others warned that a dangerous precedent had been set. The board allowed itself “to be whipsawed by various constituencies with a variety of agendas,” said Anne D. Neal of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni in a statement. “Gallaudet’s governance has now proven dysfunctional not once — but twice. It’s imperative that the board take time to learn from this pathetic episode, and reestablish credibility. . . .”

Since the beginning of this month, students have taken over a campus building, enforced a blockade of the school’s entrances that ended with more than 130 arrests and briefly seized the administration building. Faculty voted that Fernandes should go and expressed a loss of confidence in the board and outgoing president I. King Jordan, and about 2,000 students, parents, alumni and others marched on the Capitol.

The board chair, Brenda Jo Brueggemann, did not return messages yesterday, and Jordan declined through spokeswoman Mercy Coogan to comment.

Coogan said disciplinary decisions regarding students will be made on an individual basis through the established judicial process.

Read the rest of the article here.


3 thoughts on “At Gallaudet, Peace

  1. For the record, the sub-headline was removed from the online version of the article (“As Tents Come Down, Protesters’ Sense of Victory in Ouster Of Incoming President Contrasts With Some Officials’ Concerns”).

    The term “Officials'” in the sub-headline was apparently referring to Anne D. Neal of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), but ACTA is a private organization, not governmental organization, Anne D. Neal is not a government official.


  2. This is a long road to haul. Many pitfalls have stopped in the stall! Now those awake from a long bawl! The stakeholders and their names’sakes must clean up the work; however big or small! And keep the peace for all!


  3. Wow! Brenda Brueggemann and Jordan still are not cooperative with you, the students about disciplinary decisions. They should solve the problem immediately.


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