Wednesday, April 19, 2006


I'm REALLY not happy with what I'm seeing about the selection of the next President of Gallaudet University.

Commented David Evans on Adam Stone's blog:
No other university that I’ve attended or heard of would shut down for an entire day just for a presentation by a presidential candidate. Still, I’m sure that whoever went first would have to sacrifice something in the short-term. Short of having a debate/longer forum, I don’t think there’s any easy way to resolve this.

I've heard of plenty who have all three presidents give speeches and involve as many of their students as possible. And a little work on Google found this. I went to a hearing college, and it seemed a perfectly reasonable idea to pick a time which would allow all students to attend these introductions. Another commenter on that blog also suggested all three speeches be at the same time; this is another good idea. Please don't fall into the trap Deaf people have of trying not to be "uppity" and not asking for what you deserve. This is an important position we're talking about, having effects worldwide. The words I. King Jordan spoke when he was first confirmed as President are still rung round the world. And who is the Deaf community? We are.

This is where I have to stop, with Adam. I was an MSSD student and I was proud of being connected to Gallaudet that way and still am, but that's the only way I'm connected. Maybe it's enough to give me the right to comment, though. The President of Gallaudet College is a representative of the Deaf Community-THE representative. In some ways, he's very much in the role of a diplomat to a foreign power. We should be sitting there with our children. "Kids, this could be the next Gallaudet President. This is going to determine who leads us in the coming world." And we're going to need a leader - it doesn't look like it's going to be an easy world. And we need someone who can think about this world. I mean, look at the class ramifications of cochlear implants, for god's sake. We need someone with excellence in language to lead the University also in ideas, and especially ideas about Deaf people, Deaf culture, etc. We need someone who can reach out and give people reasons to attend Gallaudet so we continue to have a center of Deaf culture like this (and it's not just Deaf people - look at Howard University, for example which is also suffering student attrition as access and discrimination decrease.

But today, with our wonderful technology, we really don't have to worry about shutting down a university. 20-minute speech, at the same time, different stages for each candidate, each speech to be filmed by separate film crews, and play it on the campus television thingy for the entire day. Subtitle as possible and replay the subtitled version when it becomes available. This way fairness is achieved and we provide respect to the importance of the position of Gallaudet University. Put the speeches on the internet. "Spying" wouldn't matter. Let the Deaf bloggers talk about it - all over the world. You can tell the Search Committee to ignore the buzz if you want - but people's words should be out there. But don't any students have video cameras? Is the Buff and Blue reaching out into AV yet? looks like an interesting resource; I don't see any posts on Presidential selection yet. gally-l seems to be hopping about this "secrecy" and the choice to have the selection happen over the summer when the students won't be around to see. Fine, get some students to stay there. AND BRING THE DAMN CAMERAS. Got to be hosting somewhere. (General Jen would remind me: keep the mic on.)

And by the way - did anyone go to Bernice Johnson Reagon's speech? She is an amazing, amazing woman, a great writer who has worked for feminism and equality for a long time. She also happens to have strong ties to the Deaf community. I'm hoping her speech was packed, and hoping someone has a link to the text of her speech.


Anonymous said...

Joe, they aren't going to make the announcement when the students are out of town. There was no plot to keep the students from protesting. This whole thing is so fucked up. There are rampant rumors about a big conspiracy and THERE ISN'T ONE!!!

Joseph Rainmound said...

When are they planning to make the announcement? Do you know? And please don't post anonymously - no need here. There have been other people saying that the search committee scheduled selection for the summer season. If you have evidence otherwise, let's see it.

Joseph Rainmound said...

Well, I think you really missed my point anyway, Anonymous. Who cares if it's in the summer time? Electricity and batteries still work. Go forth and film.

deafeningchameleon said...

This whole situation leaves a bad taste in my mouth, especially the idea of Jane Fre.... I mean look at what she did to MSSD? She totally fucked them up for about a 10 year period, destroyed the drama dept among many things. It will be a sad day if she gets elected.

David Evans said...

Joe, I've attended five colleges/universities and taken classes at a couple more-- three times I was present when a new president was being selected, including DPN. That said, I like your idea of videotaping the addresses, and having an all-candidate forum (in the evening, perhaps?). My point was more that classes have never been cancelled (with the exception of DPN, but that was *after* the announcement of Zinser); it would not be reasonable for a university's business to be put on hold. However, as you state, Gallaudet's President is an icon in the Deaf community, and thus merits serious consideration by the community at large. If you truly believe this, then perhaps the videotaping idea is best, *because* then the alumni and Congressfolks (who have quite a bit of say in Gallaudet's financial affairs) could see who's being considered. I think this is where a conflict presents itself-- Gallaudet is both an educational and a cultural institution. Where do you draw the line? How should its leaders be determined, and on which basis? Academics only? Both?

I'll shut up for now, but hopefully what I've said gives you some idea of my thoughts...

David Evans said...

Oh, and an additional comment: the link you provided discussed the need for students to be involved. I think that the search committee is already doing so-- there's an undergraduate and a graduate representative, and from the press releases, it seems that feedback sheets are being distributed at each of the presentations, which are open to the public. How much more student involvement do you need or want? Keeping the students involved/notified is not the same as handing over control of the entire process to the students alone. I'm all for student rights/involvement, but there are other constituencies involved here: staff, faculty, and alumni. Extended constituencies are Congress and the Deaf community at large.

Hard for me to be quiet, I guess. But this is the topic du jour. :)

Joseph Rainmound said...

Thank you for your considered responses.

When I mentioned videotaping, I was thinking of what seemed like a natural idea. This is 2006; ten years ago I was running THN and chasing after administrators for news. Now students seem to be rampaging on rumors, and there doesn't seem to be much evidence - no film of what's being said. The first person who reported on Steven Weiner (that I saw) was Adam Stone, admitted to NOT be a student.

I'm not talking about passive involvement. I don't want the Gallaudet administration to stick its finger in student ass as waddle them around like dolls. I want the students to be asking the questions. I want them to be reporting. Right now what I'm seeing is a lot of whining, but not much actual content. Ridor has a lot of good stories and objections to Jane Fernandes, but where's the meat? Why was it decided to do the three candidates sequentially instead of simultaneously? What's really going on with the scheduling? There's rumors of a petition - for what?

I understand your concerns about academics vs culture, but why does it have to be separate? Are the two separate in women's colleges? In African-American institutions? Maybe Deaf people can't be smart? (now that's tongue in cheek.)

What I'd like is there to be evidence of all this. Where's the text of Weiner's speech proving Adam's concerns that he was speaking at YLC-level?

Ridor said...

Well, I have a source from a well-known figure who played a pivotal role in pre-DPN activism, he told me that the BOT/PSC/IKJ Administration has planned to announce the selection after the spring semester is done to prevent any outbursts. It was planned in advance, trust me. They probably did not expect the reaction regarding Anderson and Rosen, they were prepared for "that outburst" against Fernandes when she is selected. That's what I was notified from someone INSIDE the cog.