Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Gallaudet: the future

Adam Stone reviewed a presentation by Steven Weiner today in which the latter tried to make his case for the Presidency of Gallaudet University. Adam was less than impressed, but one thing he said struck me:
Okay, isn’t that already what we all want? I wanted to hear something new. Something bold.

He threw in some great gems, though. “Working at Gallaudet is not a job; it is a mission.” “We are past capital-D deaf.” “We must serve all deaf with mutual respect for all.”

Oh, and he quoted my most favorite Talmud quote ever, “He who saves one person saves the world.”

But still - I didn’t feel his vision. I’m still not sure what it was.

Yep. What's gonna happen down on Florida Ave.? What should the future contain for Gallaudet? What challenges is it going to face as an institution? As a Deaf institution? I commented as below:
Well, what do you think needs reform at Gallaudet? I’d like to see:
*A commitment to recruiting teachers in departments which have suffered from lack of people such as physics and other science depts.
*A commitment to encouraging the development of Deaf-centered technology
*A strategy for dealing with the coming generation of Deaf individuals most of whom will have cochlear implants - we need to find ways to continue to make Gallaudet attractive to all Deaf people.
*A commitment to exploring that “the Deaf nation may have many tribes” (if I can quote myself)

The Deaf community is changing. The direction the University will take in the next few years is crucial. We need leadership and unity. We need respect and recognition of difference while at the same time noting similarity.

Here's my question - what bold things would you like to see happen at Gally? What would make you want to be a student there?


korn said...

many things... :(

only reason why i am student at Gallaudet Univ just because Im Deaf... If im not Deaf, i would have went to NYU.

however Gallaudet got the world largest and best resources relating to history of Deafness and etc etc... So its like "Mecca" for the Deaf.

Mr. Sandman said...

I agree-- Gallaudet needs to continue its mission of recruiting deaf candidates and hiring deaf people for faculty and staff positions. This doesn't mean hiring *every* deaf person that walks in the door, and it doesn't mean shutting out hearing applicants 100% either, but there needs to be more balance whenever possible. Some departments/areas are doing better than others. I think part of the solution to the problem is identifying potential MA and Ph.D. students early on, while they're undergrads, and encouraging them to continue their studies. It's hard to want to hire people if there's no one out there with the minimum qualifications. While the President's Fellowship program is an excellent start, there needs to be more encouragement of future potential President's Fellows right from the start.

I also think you're dead-on in terms of developing a strategy for recruiting and handling potential enrollees who have cochlear implants/come from a mainstream background. I know in the past I've talked to mainstream students and inquired if they ever heard anything from Gallaudet, and being told "no." NTID/RIT on the other hand, has been quite aggressive in recent years with their recruiting efforts.

Some of the changes that have taken place since I was a student are not all for the better. For example, reducing the foreign language requirement from two years to one hurts students wanting to go on to post-graduate education. Most MA and Ph.D. programs require applicants to have taken two years of a foreign language-- I'm not sure how Gallaudet graduates of late have handled that during the application process.

I could go on and on (probably already have!) but that's my take. I've already served my time at Gallaudet, so I'm not sure what they could do to make me be a student again (*grin*)...

MM said...

As a deaf person on the butt-end of the insidious D cultists, I welcome the statement we should now to be treated as equals and with the respect we are entitled to bythe deaf community,but what took this great deaf democracy so long ? I suggest it is because the rise of the 'Undeaf' sector (The third way), has presented them with competition and an alternative option, they thought we would never be able to express the same way the 'Deaf' did, now, they NEED us ? what goes around comes around ? I suspect the deaf community will find we don't need them, is it too late ?


Joseph Rainmound said...


I appreciate your feelings but respectfully disagree with you. I blame hearing people for the disdain and rivalry between the various deaf, hard of hearing, Deaf, gallyDeaf, whathave you 'tribes' that I see fighting with each other. Specifically, I blame "gatekeepers" who make careers out of categorizing us and "marketing" those categories. capital-Deaf people were told that deaf people and h-o-h were "better" than they for a long time - still are. I still get told every day how good my voice is - by both Deaf and hearing people. deaf people - myself included - hearing people taught me to despise people who signed when I was young. I was better. What I would like is for us to just put all that aside and work together. We have plenty of things to learn from each other.

When they divide us, they take our power. All Deaf/deaf/HOH people benefited from that moment people united at DPN. That's what led to the rise of the "Undeaf" sector. It's important to remember what things were like 20 years ago. In 1986, how many television programs were captioned? How many interpreters did you see? How many subtitled movies? How many Deaf people were struggling in higher education? People were using faxes to communicate.

I am sad to see stories about people making fun of those with Cochlear Implants at Gallaudet events. We don't need these divisions. We need respect and mutual understanding.

Joseph Rainmound said...

Actually, strike the part where I said "hearing people" - there is such a thing as "deaf gatekeepers" these days. More on that later.

Mr. Sandman said...

Oh, YES, there are "deaf gatekeepers." Unfortunately, they're part of the problem, not the solution. Hearing educators/policymakers have (rightfully) shouldered the blame for a long time, but that doesn't automatically and categorically make Deaf people angels-- first and foremost (as I think you'll agree) we're all INDIVIDUALS. I think too many people forget that, regardless of where on the spectrum they are. We're lumped right from the beginning into categories, labeled, and expected to conform to social norms. If change is truly to be effected, people are going to have to recognize that while not everyone fits into the same box, everyone has the right to have their voice heard and their talents appreciated. Maybe that'll never happen, but as the Deaf/deaf community is rapidly changing, the powers-that-be in all sectors need to move and change with the times, or risk being left behind. How that impacts future Deaf/deaf identity and sense of self, we'll find out...