Crisis at Gallaudet University
October 14, 2006
Vol. 2 No. 50
Editor: Tom Willard
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Click here for Special Report from Sunday, October 8, 2006
Click here for Special Report from Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Click here for Tom Willard's "A Few Ideas to End the Stalemate"
CAMPUS POLICE ARREST NEARLY 150 GALLAUDET PROTESTERS
Gallaudet University campus police arrested nearly 150 people last night after protesters refused to end a week-long siege. University President I. King Jordan ordered the arrests after demonstrators, upset with the university’s choice of Jane K. Fernandes to succeed him when he retires in December, ignored a final ultimatum. Department of Public Safety officers warned protesters three times, shined floodlights on them and began marking arrests around 9 p.m. Protesters went limp and were carried to city police vans while a large crowd jeered police and cheered those being arrested. Demonstrators were taken to a police processing center in Southwest Washington and released on $50 bail. Those arrested included several student leaders and Tim Rarus, a leader of the 1988 Deaf President Now movement that led to Jordan’s 18-year presidency.
INTEPRETING DIRECTOR'S BROKEN FEET LEADS TO SHOWDOWN
Deaf blogger Ricky D. Taylor reported that I. King Jordan ordered last night’s police action after Gallaudet’s director of interpreting services broke both feet when she tried to evade the campus blockade by climbing over a fence. Deborah Van Cleve was apparently seen by protesters and warned that it was not safe to climb the fence, but ignored them and ended up injuring herself. “This is Deb VanCleve’s fault, not the protesters’ fault,” said Taylor, “and I. King Jordan is capitalizing on this injury to attack the FSSA Coalition.” He added that he was “leaving for DC as soon as can be.”
WORLD WATCHES ARRESTS THROUGH LIVE BLOGGING
Internet users around the world followed last night’s arrests in real time. Live blogging began on elisawrites.com and moved to ythree.com and ridorlive.com, which both crashed temporarily, before landing at scallionstallion.com. Tayler Mayer of deafread.com posted eyewitness reports via pager from Elisa Abenchuchan and Mishka Zena and included a running total of arrests and names of those arrested. In less than three hours, scallionstallion.com logged 47,000 page views. It showed 135 arrests, though a different site reported 148 arrests as of 4 a.m. this morning.
FSSA: JORDAN BROKE PROMISE TO AVOID NIGHT ARRESTS
A press release last night from the Gallaudet FSSA (Faculty, Staff, Students, Alumni) accused President I. King Jordan of breaking a promise to faculty members by allowing the arrests to take place after dark. Arresting deaf people in the dark "increases the complexity," said the release, "and can pose unnecessary danger." Make-shift lighting brought in by police made things "even more difficult." Two faculty members reminded Jordan of his promise, but he reportedly deflected blame to city police, saying he gave the order at 2 p.m. but police were not ready to proceed until seven hours later.
FERNANDES FINALLY APPEARS BEFORE PROTESTERS
After remaining out of sight throughout the protest, embattled President-Select Jane K. Fernandes made a brief appearance yesterday afternoon at the security kiosk near Gallaudet’s main entrance. According to The Washington Post, Fernandes emerged from a black SUV with two security guards and read from a brief statement. Fernandes, who only a day earlier promised not to meet with protesters until they reopened the campus, complained of how campus activities had been disrupted and said, “I am asking a small group of students to join me now for a conversation about re-opening Gallaudet University.” They did, but protest leader Delia Lozana-Martinez said afterward, “It disappoints and disgusts me. I don’t think it was productive at all.”
FERNANDES STATEMENT LEAVES FACULTY ‘SHOCKED, AGHAST’
Jane Fernandes issued a statement just before 6 p.m. Wednesday as the first day of the campus blockade was winding down. “I remain committed to becoming the president of Gallaudet University,” she said. Fernandes had no intention of abandoning her commitment to the post, she said, and if she did so “it would only become worse for the University, in general, and future Boards of Trustees and presidents, in particular.” A press release issued within an hour by a faculty coalition said they were “shocked and aghast that Dr. Fernandes still believes she can lead the university.” If Fernandes doesn’t resign, they said, it “will lead ... to the complete destruction of everything for which Gallaudet has stood in its 142 years.”
STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT DISPELS RUMOR
Student Body Government President Noah Beckman sent a message yesterday "to correct a rumor that is spreading out like a wildfire." Apparently a prankster sent out an email from a Yahoo account with Beckman's signature. "I can assure you all that I did not send out that particular mail," he said. Beckman also explained that he had not "shown [his] face on the frontline" because of academic obligations resulting from three incomplete grades he received because of the protests in May.
INTERPRETER SAID TO BE FIRED FOR SPEAKING OUT
Another rumor concerned Gallaudet staff interpreter Robert Loeffler, who was believed to have been fired for speaking out about the protest. The rumors began after it was noted that Loeffler's profile was removed from the Gallaudet Interpreting Service's website shortly after he expressed himself on a vlog. (A transcript, link and comments can be seen here.) Loeffler, who accused the Administration of "suppressing the voices of the protesters by taking away interpreters from them," told a friend he hadn't heard anything about being fired and didn't know why his page was removed. He's taking a personal leave to interpret for students, however, and speculated that GIS removed his profile to avoid confusion until he returns to work.
FORMER FERNANDES UNDERLINGS SAY JANE MUST GO
Teachers and staff members of the Clerc Center called on Jane Fernandes to resign yesterday in an open letter that contained numerous allegations against Fernandes, their boss from 1995 to 2000. On the same day a Washington Post editorial claimed protesters “were unable to articulate reasonable grounds for their opposition” to Fernandes, the letter provided more than 25 examples of Fernandes as an “ineffectual leader and damaging the infrastructure of Clerc Center,” “alienating and ignoring teachers and staff” and “creating an atmosphere of distrust and fear.” The writers, who withheld their names “due to fear of reprisals,” said the Administration chose to shut down Clerc Center, which serves deaf children through high school age, even though protesters were prepared to allow teachers and staff on campus.
DETAILS REVEALED OF EARLY-MORNING TAKEOVER
An FSSA press release revealed further details of Wednesday’s early morning campus takeover. Football team captain Jason Coleman played a key role when he attended a Tuesday night rally in the locked-down Hall Memorial Building and “felt the spirit of many students, faculty, staff and alumni,” said the release. He learned that I. King Jordan had held a contractual agreement for 20 hours and then lectured students on “the rules of engagement” in negotiation. Coleman and about 40 teammates, no longer “willing to live in an oppressive, fearful environment,” marched through campus with supporters, locked all campus gates and began blocking entrances around 3 a.m. Wednesday. Students in the locked-down Hall Memorial Building (HMB) learned of the coup and quickly joined forces. Recent reports say campus police have retaken and locked up HMB, preventing students from collecting their personal belongings.
LAWYER TO INVESTIGATE CLAIMS AGAINST POLICE
A former U.S. Deputy Attorney General will investigate claims that campus police used excessive force when responding to a bomb threat in Hall Memorial Building last Friday morning, said a university press release yesterday. Eric H. Holder, Jr. was retained by Gallaudet University to investigate allegations against the Department of Public Service (DPS) and release his findings to the public as soon as possible. Holder, a partner at Washington law firm Covington & Burling, LLP, once held the second highest position in the U.S. Department of Justice and is “the ideal person to conduct this independent review,” said Board of Trustees Chair Brenda Brueggemann.
NTID STUDENTS SEND RIBBONS TO SHOW SUPPORT
Students from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, N.Y. showed their support for Gallaudet protesters by sending a package of 350 blue and orange ribbons to be worn by demonstrators. Sarah Gordon, president of the NTID Student Congress, said in a letter to the FSSA, "Here at NTID, we will do the same as a daily reminder of the struggle, as well as hope for a solution."
WASHINGTON POST SAYS IT AGAIN: FERNANDES ‘WELL QUALIFIED’
The Washington Post’s editorial page continued its attack on Gallaudet protesters with a second editorial yesterday titled, “Giving Gallaudet a Bad Name.” In an editorial that Gallaudet was quick to post on its own website, the Post intoned, “While it would have been nice if Ms. Fernandes’s selection had been more popular, it really is not the students’ place to name the president.” The editorial went on to criticize faculty members for inciting protesters “when they should have been acting like grown-ups,” and claimed that “opposition to the tactics of the protesters is emerging.” Repeating its assertion of Tuesday, the Post concluded, “By any objective measure, Ms. Fernandes is well qualified to lead" the university.
CANADIAN ACTIVIST MALKOWSKI TELLS BOARD: RESIGN
A well-known deaf Canadian activist called on the entire Gallaudet University Board of Trustees to resign in an open letter Wednesday. Gary Malkowski, a Gallaudet alumnus himself (‘81 and ‘84), accused the Board of “creating undemocratic process, unrest, unstable, oppressive and violence on the Gallaudet campus” and said it would be “the greatest honourable thing” if they were to submit their resignations - unless they choose to ‘implement the demands of the FSSA.” Malkowski was Canada’s first deaf parliamentarian, representing York East in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1990 to 1995.
WEBSITES WITH MORE INFORMATION
Deaf artist Tate Tullier’s
Xanga site with info and pictures:
Deaf's Black Friday - ASL Vlog
by Patrick Boudrealt:
DeafDC.com - Contains several
blogs with views on the protests:
Eyeth Studios -- Photos and updated
Letters from Kendall Green -
Updates from a Gallaudet student:
Tim Kettering's photos from last
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