by Kenneth G Samson @ bibliomarket
Once again, some people just don’t get it. The Hearing Loss Association has issued this statement condemning the BoT actions in terminating Dr. Fernandes. This organization is unilaterally ignoring the rich and diverse history of Gallaudet accepting and teaching a wide spectrum of deaf students, by whatever label they have ever chosen to call themselves, who came to Gallaudet to be a part of the DEAF culture. This organization has accepted the simple lie that I.K. Jordan’s administration has fed to the masses about Dr. Fernandes’ detractors claiming she was ‘not deaf enough,’ when all along, the complex truths that fueled the protest was foremost: 1. A racist process that enabled an unqualified white man to step ahead of a qualified black man, a flawed process subtlety enabled by the Presidential Search Committee, and 2. Fernandes’ repeatedly failed leadership for over a decade at the helm of each position she held at Gallaudet, due to her deeply ingrained abrasive and demoralizing management by intimidation style. The protesters also felt strongly that due to her aloof personal nature, she was not representative of Gallaudet – She was not the FACE of Gallaudet that we would be happy to show the world.
On the matter of Gallaudet ‘changing with the times’ I have this to say: In this day and age of technological advances, deaf people of whatever label they chose for themselves who have no interest in being a part of DEAF culture have the option of going to ANY University in the USA. My message to those who would run Gallaudet: –LET THEM GO!–
Gallaudet has a long history, from the days of it’s founding, to serve PRIMARILY the needs of the DEAF who chose to label themselves with a capital ‘D’. Gallaudet does NOT need to be-all-things-to-all-deaf-people. Continuing to attempt to do so will only weaken Gallaudet’s uniqueness until it become just a puny shadow of it’s former self. Let them go, those masses of deaf who wish to identify themselves differently from the DEAF. The President, Provost, Administration, BoT, and Faculty must return to the days of serving those for which Gallaudet was founded: DEAF people and those who wish to be a part of the DEAF culture. There are thousands of other Universities for those deaf who wish to be part of the mainstream and do not identify themselves as DEAF.
This is the battle we face – we who wish to preserve DEAF culture. I will borrow from, and expand on, Matthew Lockhart’s speech at the Capitol. On that day we marched to U.S. Capitol, Matthew said:
“When you think about it, the human body is a real piece of work. We have many parts with functions of their own. They work together, yet independently to make the whole body function. We have a heart that pumps blood which circulates through several vital organs and a brain that process thoughts and make decisions for the body.
A university is not so different than the human body. This could apply to any university but for now, this is about Gallaudet.
We’ll start with the heart. The heart of Gallaudet is its faculty. Gallaudet will move forward as long as its heart beats. When the heart stops beating, the university stops.
Blood flows through the heart, just like students continually come and go over the years, therefore students are our blood.
The remaining vital organs serve different functions much like how the staff at Gallaudet has specific roles within the university.
When you first see a person, you only see what’s on the outside – the skin – before you learn about what’s on the inside of the person. Millions of people all over the world know and form impressions about Gallaudet before they ever set foot on Kendall Green. These impressions often come from interactions with the alumni, thus the alumni serve as our skin.
The administration is the brain of the university. Our brain collects information and makes decisions for the rest of our body. How we function as an individual is based on these decisions. But, sometimes our brain does not listen to other parts of our body, and as a result, the body deteriorates. It can be instantaneous – such as a massive heart attack – or it can happen slowly over years.
Here’s a quote from former U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt: “It is a terrible thing to look over your shoulder when you are trying to lead — and find no one there.”
The brain, right now, is only concerned about what’s best for the brain. The administration refuses to tell its head to look over its shoulder because they know that they will find no one there. It has made decisions, and continues to make decisions, at the expense of other parts of our body. Especially the heart and blood of Gallaudet.
So, how do we fix things when the brain disagrees with the body? We, as human beings, visit a doctor for annual checkups to receive a clean bill of health. Gallaudet gets its checkups when the Board of Trustees, Gallaudet’s doctor, meet four times a year.
When the doctor evaluates us, one of the first things the doctor does is put a stethoscope on our chest, to listen to our heart. The Board of Trustees does not have their stethoscope on Gallaudet’s heart, but on its brain.
This is wrong. Very wrong.
We must get the Board of Trustees to move their stethoscope from our brain down to our heart.
Right now, 82% of the heart is not functioning properly, as indicated by the faculty vote last Monday. When the heart isn’t functioning, blood doesn’t flow as well and freely as it should. This causes the other vital organs to fail. And then the skin begins to crumble.
And the brain is still not listening to the body.
And the doctor isn’t here.
We must continue the protest until our heart beats mightily with pride.
We must continue the protest until our blood flows through a healthy heart.
We must continue the protest until our vital organs function at full strength.
We must continue the protest until our brain listens to our body.
We must continue the protest until our skin glows again, so that when the world looks at Gallaudet, they will see it shine brighter than ever.”
-Matthew Lockhart, Oct 21, 2006, at the U.S Capitol.
Indeed, Gallaudet is now on the operating table, it’s brain laid waste with the ravages of a vicious cancer. The cancer has invaded, spread throughout the brain [administration] and has taken hostage the functioning of the whole body, with cancer cells spreading to, and embedding themselves in parts of the heart, [faculty] the vital organs, [staff] and even the blood [students] that flows in it’s veins. The doctor [BoT], in a moment of rare clarity of purpose, suddenly moved it’s stethoscope from the ravaged brain to the heart, and heard, in that moment, the steady beating of a drum… yes, that drum that pulses through every part of the body of Gallaudet. While the doctor listened, and took corrective action, she did not admit liability for the error of her original diagnose. She merely cut out the most glaring, blackest part of the cancer, the Fernandes bulge that rose unsightly from the back of Gallaudet’s head. The Fernandes bulge thus dispatched, the doctor, glancing at her watch, quickly patched up the wound, said ‘take two aspirin every day’ and rode off into the sunset for a round of golf with her deaf friends.
Meanwhile, the many cancer cells that were left behind in the brain, heart, and vital organs, continued to divide and multiply, taking for it’s own much more territory in the body, weakening it further. Our job therefore-, we of the DEAF culture, we who remain healthy and without cancer, -is to step in and finish the operation. We must perform repeated sessions of chemotherapy on the body, systematically destroying every last cancer cell that still resides within the body of Gallaudet. Every cancer cell must be destroyed and removed from the body. Yes, therapy will temporarily weaken us. Yes, our hair will fall out. Yes, we will need much infusion of medicines and vitamins. Yes, we will sometimes wish to give up, and say ‘this is too hard, it hurts too much, we cannot go on!’
– But we must. – The cancer MUST be eliminated from the body. Not 50%, not 75%, not even 95%. It must ALL be removed for the body to fully recover. The first battle was won, the Fernandes bulge is gone – but it was only one battle in what will now prove to be a lengthy and bloody war. The stakes are high. The cultural identity of the DEAF and our Cultural home, Gallaudet, is our stake. When you are dying, you don’t ask how much it will cost to fix. We will pay any price to preserve our lives.