No Reprisals!

Below my comments today are screenshots of a letter from FSSA’s lawyers to Pam Holmes, Chair of the Board of Trustees. As Jeff Rosen stated when he distributed this letter:

“A letter from FSSA’s attorneys is attached as a reminder that out of all the people complicit in the Gallaudet situation, the students bore the brunt of being held “accountable” for what happened. Students have had their civic records blemished, their academic standing downgraded, their mental health injured, assaulted by police and security misconduct, and are being subjected to suspensions and sanctions for alleged violations of the campus code of conduct, sometimes without lawful due process.”

It is unconscionable for the Jordan administration to punish the students in this way, or even to have ANY say in how reprisals should be imposed, given that the administration is equally guilty due to the many illegal and harmful actions they took during the protest period. I feel very strongly that whoever is picked tomorrow as the Interim President should immediately and without prejudice, pardon the protesters and cease all reprisals, and cancel all planned punishments and take steps to correct all actions already imposed to punish those involved. For the good of Gallaudet; her students; her reputation, and her healing process – the Jordan Administration must be rebuked and immediate action taken to resolve the issue of reprisals. In addition, certain other persons besides students have been unfairly singled out and punished by the Jordan Administration. Those persons, too, should have their punishments lifted and jobs returned.

When all is said and done, and all the steam, anger and hostilities boils out of the kettle that has burned steadily since May, one simple fact will remain stuck at the bottom of that kettle: the whole mess of this past 7 months COULD have been avoided if the search process had not been flawed from the start! The Board of Trustees and the original Presidential Search Committee own ultimate responsibility for what resulted from that flawed process and they should step up and have the grace to absolve the students, staff and others who have been punished because they recognized something seriously wrong had happened and stood up and demanded a renewed search process. Ken @ Bibliomarket

[note: text version is shown in full in the comments section below the screenshots, and the Adobe Acrobat (pdf) version can be downloaded here. ]

lawyer’s letter page 1

lawyer’s letter page 2

lawyer’s letter page 3

lawyer’s letter page 4

lawyer’s letter page 5 [final]

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7 thoughts on “No Reprisals!

  1. My true hope is that he just needed to start over somewhere else on this earth and that he will contact his boys soon. I truly think he maybe folded under pressures he’s never had and needed a re-due late in life. The response from family, friends and strangers has been overwhelming and we are forever greatful for everyones sympathy and support. Our family is as strong as ever and hope

  2. Pingback: BOT to Students: ‘Merry Christmas, Happy New Years, and Up-Yours’ « BiblioMarket

  3. I suggest posting the text version separately. I’m concerned that deaf-blind readers might overlook it when it’s buried in the comments like this (they might notice that the letter is initially provided only as an image above, assume it’s not accessible to their screen readers, and move on … similar to the way that many of us deaf people see a vlog on a hearing web site, assume it’s not captioned, and move on).

    I was able to see the letter okay on my lap top computer screen–it’s readable for my reasonably healthy eyes, but I can see where it could be a strain for some people with older eyes or with vision impairments.

    Not everyone has an easy option for switching computers, though. So it’s good that you’re trying to provide this in more than one format. Thanks.

  4. here’s the text version:

    Edward Correia
    Direct Dial 202-637-1063
    Edward.Correia@lw.com

    LATHAM & WATKINS, LLP

    555 Eleventh Street N W Suite 1000
    Washington D C 20004-1304
    Tel (202)637-2200 Fax (202) 637-2201
    http://www.lw.com

    FIRM / AFFILIATE OFFICES

    Brussels, New York
    Chicago, Northern Virginia
    Frankfurt, Orange County
    Hamburg, Paris
    Hong Kong, San Diego
    London, San Francisco
    Los Angeles, Shanghai
    Milan, Silicon Valley
    Moscow, Singapore
    Munich, Tokyo
    Singapore, Tokyo
    New Jersey, Washington D.C.

    File No. 508667-0000

    December 7, 2006

    VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL

    Pamela Holmes
    Chair
    Board of Trustees
    Gallaudet University

    Re: Meeting between the Gallaudet Board of Trustees and the FSSA

    Members of the Board:

    We represent a coalition of Faculty, Students. Staff and Alumni of Gallaudet University (“FSSA”). We previously wrote to President Jordan on October 25, 2006, to request a meeting with the Board. We realize that the Board may never have received this letter, which we hoped would be transmitted through the President’s office. We are writing again to reiterate a number of requests and recommendations as well as to commend the Board for its decision to re-open the presidential search process. Our client is hopeful that the university can move forward to eliminate the divisions within the Gallaudet community that have arisen over the past several months. We also want to update the Trustees as to various concerns of the FSSA and to request a meeting with the Board to discuss constructive steps the university can take.

    Disciplinary Actions for Students

    Our most pressing issue involves the many students who are facing disciplinary actions as a result of their arrest on Friday, October, 13, 2006. Regarding the disciplinary actions facing the students, we understood that the Judicial Affairs Office is not pursuing severe sanctions for those involved who previously had no disciplinary record. We commend that office for taking that approach.

    We remain concerned, however, about the Judicial Affairs approach. First, Judicial Affairs needs to make the procedure clearer to all students. Second, it is unfair for Judicial Affairs to ask that students waive their right to a hearing and “accept responsibility” without knowing precisely how they will be disciplined. Several severe sanctions are theoretically possible, such as expulsion and exclusion from all campus activities. Students cannot make an informed decision about waiving their right to a hearing unless they understand the sanctions. Even the less severe consequences can result in removal from campus activities and suspension from sports teams. Further, the system of consequences is designed to escalate with each [Page 2:] successive disciplinary infraction. Students who are “first offenders” today can be assessed escalated consequences for even minor infractions in the future. Because of this escalating system of consequences, the range of consequences Judicial Affairs identifies for students who have a prior disciplinary history seems to be significantly more severe and could eventually result in suspension or expulsion. Compounding the anxiety of the students, but in the alleged interest of fairness or consistency, no student will be assessed a specific consequence until all of the students have completed the Judicial Affairs process, including any and all hearings for students who did not elect to “accept responsibility.” In effect, all of the students are in limbo until all of the hearings have taken place. Lastly, international students are concerned that if they accept responsibility they may be asked to leave the country, and some students have had their scholarships revoked.

    The FSSA urges the Board to clarify its intent with respect to these Judicial Affairs actions. Specifically, FSSA requests that the Board recognize that the students who are now facing disciplinary charges were participating in a peaceful act of civil disobedience when they were arrested on Friday, October 13, 2006. The Board may wish to recommend that the consequence assessed against these students be rehabilitative in nature, such as community service, that it be assessed consistently for all students without regard to prior disciplinary history, and that it be singular in nature (not form the basis for escalated consequences in the event the student encounters future disciplinary actions).

    Adverse Employment Actions

    FSSA is also concerned that the sanctions to be imposed on staff are overly severe and arbitrary. We understand that some staff have been terminated without any written notice or articulated reason. Many of those who were terminated were not directly involved in the demonstrations. At least one student-employee was terminated without notice from his Residence Advisor position, which resulted in an immediate loss of housing. When one student leader asked about the appeal procedure at the Clerc Center for terminated employees, she was given differing accounts. One person said that Gallaudet policy would be applied, while another referred to the Clerc Center’s policy. As in the case for the students, no sanctions should be severe and the University should make more extensive efforts to explain the procedures that it proposes to use in deciding on sanctions.

    Allegations of Police/DPS Misconduct

    FSSA’s third area of concern is the investigation and response to allegations of police misconduct. Several students have reported that the Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) officers used excessive force when they intervened during the October 6, 2006 demonstration in front of Hall Memorial Building and again on other occasions during October of this year. According to student reports, some students were pushed against the wall by their windpipes, one student had his shirt torn by a DPS officer, others were threatened with pepper spray, and still more were unnecessarily man-handled and aggressively shoved around. It was alleged by at least one student that a taser gun was presented, but not used, by DPS on one occasion. At least one student filed a complaint with the DPS alleging excessive force, and despite the legal requirement that the DPS report these incidents to the Metropolitan Police Department, (“MPD”) [Page 3:] the administration has yet to do so. In any event, DPS is required to report to the MPD whenever any force is used. As of November 3, 2006, DPS had made no such report to MPD.

    We understand that the Board has retained Covington & Burling to investigate the allegations of police misconduct on October 6, 2006. We have spoken with the attorneys from Covington & Burling and are confident that their investigation and resulting report will be useful. However, we also think it would be useful to consider conduct by the campus police on other days and to obtain additional information about the conduct of these security personnel. The comments below have been compiled in large part through the work of attorney Suzy Rosen Singleton.

    1. On October 12. 2006 we understand that one student was assaulted by the MPD. On that date Officer Strother of the MPD injured this student by stomping on her and pushing her. She suffered minor cuts and bruises. She filed a report that evening onsite with the deaf and hard of hearing unit (“DHHU”), but has not received an update. An ambulance came to examine her and recommended that she go to the hospital to receive treatment. Due to financial concerns, she declined, but was treated onsite.

    2. On October 14, 2006 Officer Dunlap of the MPD threw a non-resisting student against a brick wall during a peaceful protest. The student has been encouraged by Ms. Rosen Singleton to file a complaint with the DHHU. The protester had to be sent to the hospital and treated for a head injury.

    3. On October 25,2006 DPS used a front-end loader bulldozer to eject students from the MSSD [Model Secondary School for the Deaf] gates, and threw metal pipes on the protestors’ tents to attempt to communicate their desire to evacuate the students. Representatives from the Gallaudet TV Department reported to contact their boss, Jim Dellon, for a copy of the videotape of the event. One of the students was hit by a metal pipe and had to go to the hospital for x-rays of his leg, another was grabbed by the skin on his chest and lifted upwards, and another had his toenail ripped off when the DPS forced the gate to close on his foot, requiring hospitalization. One student was kicked in his genital area.

    4. On October 27, 2006, one of the students who was assaulted during the demonstrations visited DPS to request information on filing a complaint. He was escorted by attorney Suzy Rosen Singleton. DPS Officer [Patrick] Rader told both of them that there is no written policy available on how to file a complaint, but said that all such complaints should go through Carl Pramuk, the Dean of Student Affairs. Dean Pramuk appeared surprised by this news when approached by the student and Ms. Rosen Singleton. Nobody at Gallaudet appears to know which procedures are to be followed in this situation. The students have made many documented attempts to request guidance as to how they should proceed with complaints. The administration has not responded to these concerned students.

    [Page 4:] The Gallaudet administration has failed to adequately address the many allegations of DPS and MPD misconduct. The students are worried that there has not been enough attention given to their safety following the demonstrations, and many feel as if they are attending classes in a climate of fear. We understand that the Board may hold a meeting with DPS on December 9th and if this is true, we commend this decision. We encourage the Board to raise these issues at that meeting as well

    Going Forward

    In summary, FSSA recommends the following:

    • No students should be subject to expulsion or other severe sanctions because of the special circumstances here.

    • The Judicial Affairs Office should be directed to specify with particularity the sanction students are expected to accept if they waive their right to a hearing, and the sanctions should not be escalating in nature.

    • No staff should be subject to severe sanctions.

    • The University should specify more clearly what procedures are to be employed in deciding to implement any sanction.

    • In order to provide a better understanding to the university community of the events surrounding the demonstrations, the University should release the videotape made on October 25, 2006, of the events that occurred at the Brentwood [MSSD] Gate.

    • The investigation of possible misconduct of campus police should be extended to all days where such misconduct might have occurred.

    • The University should clarify the proper procedures for filing a complaint against DPS, including complaints regarding events over the past few months. Students and staff should be encouraged and assisted in coming forward. For example, a notice could be placed in the student newspaper describing how these complaints can he filed. In addition, the notice could explain in more detail and responsibilities of DPS and what force is not allowed by DPS officers.

    • The University should announce that it will implement the seven campus safety guidelines that were previously recommended by a special committee of the Provost.

    • Finally, FSSA would like to discuss the measures that can be taken to prevent the second search process from being riddled with the procedural impropriety that befell the first. We believe that a few positive steps can be taken now, to allow [Page 5:] the Board to select a qualified candidate on its own while respecting what it is that Gallaudet needs. We would like to share with you the suggestions that we have.

    The FSSA is committed to doing what it can to remove the shadow that has been cast over the campus and is open to recommendations by the Board as to how do so. We remain eager to meet with the Trustees as a group or with as many individual members of the Board as possible. We can do this in person or by teleconference. I would appreciate you or your representative contacting me at your earliest convenience to arrange such a meeting.

    Best regards,

    [Signed]

    Edward Correia
    of LATHAM & WATKINS LLP

    Enclosure (letter to President Jordan and the Board of Trustees, dated October 25, 2006)

    cc:

    Gallaudet University Trustees
    President Jordan

  5. i have not been able to duplicate the problem you seem to be having with the letter. i tried three different browsers and even reduced the size of the browser windows to see if i could make the right side of the letter disappear, and i could not. i specifically reduced the size of the letter before posting so that the whole image would appear. i do not know how you are able to get the right side of the images to disappear. i suggest trying a different browser and making your windows larger. i use firefox, flock and safari. I have not tried internet explorer or opera.

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