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 “President Emeritus of the Absolutes”

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 “Gallaudet Uprising: Where the Deaf Will Be Heard”