Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Six months. Ridor reminded me. I counted on my fingers... Oh, I don't forget. Not her. I have her picture next to my computer, smiling, on a day she introduced me to her brother. Ha, and two days ago another friend gave birth. Life and death, altogether. The way it's supposed to be, maybe? But it never gets any easier.

I thought of a poem when she passed, by John Whittier: "Snowbound." It always felt strongly tied to her.
As one who held herself a part
Of all she saw, and let her heart
Upon the household bosom lean;
our youngest and our dearest sat
Upon the motley-braided mat
Lifting her large and asking eyes
(now bathed in the unfading green
and holy peace of Paradise)...

Do I believe in Paradise? No, not anymore, wretched pagan baby that I am (and yes, I've had people at work call me that. In good humor, or so I hope. No, my truth is that Life is a cycle, like anything else, and "where do we go" is a pointless question because we will go everywhere. It is like going to one point on the road and saying there is a distinction between this point and that point. There is, because of the surroundings. But the core, the road, remains the same.
With me one little year ago!
The chill weight of the winter snow
for months upon her grave has lain:
and now, when summer southwinds blow
And briar and hairbell bloom again
I tread the pleasant paths we trod
I walk the violet-sprinkled sod
Where once she leaned, too pale and weak;
the hillside flowers she loved to seek...

Six months. And yes, the snow has been on her grave; and every day I walk streets which every day covers with another patina of history: so layered and so thick by now! This is Life, too: the process of painting everything with meaning again and again till it looks ridiculously-formed, like one of those pipes in school they just keep covering and covering until it's almost elephantine? New York has so many meanings for me by now.
...yet still I wait, with ear and eye
For something gone that should be nigh.

And now comes the part that always makes me cry, the part my English teacher Mr. Cannon read (my interpreter told me) with such love, but - and this is the "fun" of poetry, I guess, the part which always interested people, how meaning deep can be different from meaning superficial. To me it has always sounded in my head like the dirge of someone cheated out of years, and very, very sarcastic, but maybe almost unconsciously:
And yet, dear love, remembering thee
Am I not richer than of old?
Safe in thy immortality -
What change can reach the wealth I hold?
What chance can mar the pearl and gold
My love hath laid in trust with thee?

As if life itself wasn't change, and the glory he thought of wasn't seeing her grow up, and marry, and have children of her own, and one day sit with her on a dark night and know... and know... but then he confesses:
And, while in life's late afternoon
Where cool and long the shadows grow -
I walk to meet the Night that soon
shall shape and shadow overflow.
I cannot feel that thou art far
since near at need the Angels are:
and when the sunset gates unbar
shall I not see thee, waiting, stand,
and white against the Evening Star
the welcome of thy beckoning hand?

We fear Death because we fear we fall off the road when we die. We don't: the road continues, and we are the road. We fear losing each other as we travel; we hold hands, like mothers warn their children, like jumpers in the sky before they pull their parachute.

I don't think she'd be waiting. She'd be working. And, hey, eventually, we're all going to catch up. Zhai'helleva, ashke. *rainmound salutes* Wind to thy wings.
Nor is it given us to discern
What threads the fatal sisters spun,
Through what ancestral years has run
The sorrow with the woman born,
What forged her cruel chain of moods,
What set her feet in solitudes,
And held the love within her mute,
What mingled madness in the blood
A life-long discord and annoy,
Water of tears with oil of joy,
And hid within the folded bud
Peversities of flower and fruit.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

it strikes me!

The only reason people would continue to ignore evidence of how many people are concerned about what's happened at Gallaudet, and how important an issue it is - is because the vast majority of people who have not met a Deaf or deaf person, often think they can't think for themselves.

I've told many the story told me by my friend Butterfly, a medical student at a large, impressive medical school and graduate of Harvard. In one of her classes a student had actually stood up and asked the teacher if deaf people could think. His theory was because we can't hear and therefore can't hear voices in our heads, we can't think.

I wonder if he had glasses. Everybody knows people who can't see sign language can't see fingers in their heads: how can they think?

Anyway, here's the evidence I'm talking about - hat tip to Ridor.

post 305: tuesday morning british news & coffee

Some news: the National Lottery has created a fund for interpreters for Deaf Gay men:
“Deaf gay men are a sizeable and valuable part of our community,” said GMFA spokesman Matthew Hodson.

“But research indicates that they often have difficulty in accessing gay specific health information, including the services that groups such as GMFA provide. This award now means that deaf gay men can come on any of our courses and pick up the kind of skills for gay life that none of us are taught at school.”

Also from the UK: I reported back in February about a production of Grease by Deaf people to raise money for education of Deaf people in Gambia, Africa. An update, from my friend Tyron in Britain:
We are very pleased to announce that £3000 was raised from the Deaf Grease event held on May 20th in London. About 50 deaf children attended event 1 in the afternoon and 250 people came in the evening.

The event was organised by a committee of 16 volunteers: Abdi Gas; Andrew Revell; Angela Spielsinger; Antony Rabin; Colette Hogan; Dani Sive; Derek Rodger; Fifi Garfield; Hux Omar; Jodee Mundy; Jordan Fenlon; Melissa Scacco; Rebecca Tadman; Robert Adam; Rob Skinner; Roger Hewitt; Tanya Denmark and Tyron Woolfe.

This was the third event of Deaf musicals that seem to be drawing a massive audience within the sign language community. The event uses famous musical films to get people from the audience to compete in sketches, signed songs and dances. Deaf Chicago was held in 2004, Deaf Sound of Music in 2005.

The audience voted this year for next year's event - Deaf Annie! Watch this space!!

All monies from these events have gone to Deaf children in the Gambia, Africa. We have bought school material, petrol and other educational costs to date. The money raised from Deaf Grease will be used for Deaf children living in the rural areas of the Gambia, c/o Deaf Link Gambia the charity.

Thanks are given to BDA for use of advert in Sign Matters, DCAL for use of room for meetings, Sign for use of rehearsal space, Mary Ward House for venue reduced costs, Nick Beese for design of poster and Oliver Westbury for advert in and finally to all those who came along to this enjoyable event!

All enquiries to Tyron Woolfe,

I always admire the abilities of this group of people to pull off successful fundraisers one after the other.

ALSO: Adam Stone reports: Is VRS in danger? More on VRS later today from DITC.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

304 ways to love ridor

The thing is, to really understand ME, you have to understand my beliefs. Now, I'm a writer, so I follow the religion of writers. I understand the universe is essentially a matrix for story. All stories that could possibly be, could happen, might have happen, will happen somewhere. Thus god is the Author; She wrote the Universe.

And because God is the Hacker, as well, she wrote it to write itself. And when we die we get to see Her, and tell her your life story.

You want to please her. She's your audience, after all - the most important you'll ever have. So what's the goal? Have a good, ordinary, boring, safe life? Think that'll interest the Queen of Everything?

No, the best bet is to BE something as strongly as possible. It can be a good thing, yes, but it must be a real thing, it must make sense, it must be thought about and rewritten and perfected.

This is why I love Ridor. He has obviously worked very hard to make himself very simply RIDOR. He has carved himself into excellent form. I refer particularly to today's blog.
I’m not going to pant like dogs or Shirley Shultz-Myers. I’m going to tell things as it is on my blog. You do not have to like my blog. I think in the last few weeks, many people was glad to know me in person … that I’m not bad as many projected me to be.

Seriously, Ricky, if you keep writing like this, I'm gonna start wanting to date you. But Ricky illustrates exactly what my point is. He tries very hard to be Ricky Taylor and live by his values.

Oh yeah, some gossip. Apparently someone is having sexual fantasies about R and A. I kid you not. He was writing some shit about them humping over at R's blog. R forwarded the whole thing to A. A was shocked; so was I. R doesn't hump. He sort of grabs guys as they pass by, like a Venus flytrap; I've seen him pick up sixteen squirming freshmen in one go.

Ah, Gays Of Our Lives is on....

Seriously, I believe R's heart is given to another. It fits - his lack of interest in a relationship with anyone. The cold looks he gives out windows at the city on winter nights while sipping Cape Cods. The way he blows money on Perrier; the long summer mornings in churches in Alabama signing "What A Friend We Have In Jesus" for childrens' choirs. He's in love. With a certain young man. Who's giving him mixed signals, so of course he's in agony. Please, young men, if you read this and you feel something for R., even if it's revulsion, be direct and tell him.

It's the Deaf Way.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

the diverse eyes

From the Daily Review Online, an article giving some sense of the beauty and development of Deafhood in various foreign students studying at Ohlone college:
Sung was 14 the last time she used her voice. After she yelled in distress during an emergency, a teacher at the deaf resident school she attended told Sung that she sounded like a wolf — a comparison that shamed the young girl.

"I turned off my voice and haven't used it since," she said.

Isidore had been deaf for seven years before he got over his embarrassment at using sign language in front of hearing people. He said that when people showed curiosity and wanted to learn more, it gave him the confidence to accept signing and not feel like "a freak."

Being deaf, however, saved Isidore's life during the genocide in Burundi that was sparked in 1993 with the assassination of the first democratically elected president. Soldiers and rebels embroiled in a brutal display of ethnic bloodshed spared people who could declare their deafness, he said. And the deaf students at his school refused to be divided by ethnicity, unlike hearing people, he added.

"We were able to cooperate differently than the hearing people who were divided," he wrote.

Her voice sounds like a wolf's? Let us all sound like wolves. The totem of Deaf people should be the wolf with diverse eyes:

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

301: where has rainmound been

Moody and depressed about the recent developments in the Gallaudet community. I keep trying to think of a better way, a more refined way to express the problems represented by Jane Fernandes.

The Kaftans ask if this is really identity politics. I want to point out something. and many others have been highly critical of protestors in the past. They are very logical people and want clearly reasoned objections before standing up. But people like Ridor at first based their objections on their gut instinct that something was wrong and began to investigate and write. Over time heart, in this specific instance, prevailed over head: now many bloggers on have changed their opinion about this protest. CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE!

So I believed seriously the objections of so many students. But there is also something going on here about identity. Jane Fernandes wants to "unite the university." She divided the University. She cracked it into many different camps. I wrote on Julie Feldman's blog:

I’d like to suggest that the issue of real importance is one of where a person is in their acceptance of their own deafness, Deafness, hearingness, Hearingness, etc. etc… people achieve a state of Deafhood where they learn where they are on their own mental map, and where they can be to obtain their maximum personal power: this allows them to see themselves as others see them.

We have to remember when we use terms like d/D, no matter what their source of personal power, we are repeating discrimination against us - after all, amongst ourselves, there is no true difference; the difference is in how we communicate with hearing people; but it comes back and it divides our community, to whom it should be meaningless (except to people who are brainwashed to think otherwise.)

Example, even though I speak and sign both, it really doesn’t matter to me. It’s not a huge mindblowing issue. I take people as they come. To CERTAIN PEOPLE, the issue is obviously very important, to the point of superseding their view of the individual.

Oh god, I spent too long in Women’s Studies… Look, you know how sometimes people get so blinded by the gender question that they can’t see what women can really do because they’re women? Same thing, but with Deaf people. Deafhood is also about comfort with internal and external diversity. We must become comfortable enough with our deafuality so that we don’t become upset with the deafuality of others.

Just like men who are most comfortable with their own sexuality are more comfortable around gay men than others.

It makes sense that Jane Fernandes is divisive (and BOY! Is she divisive! To throw a whole country into whangdoodliness!) As others have noted, she too uses terms of difference inside Gallaudet. She is talking about difference. She is emphasizing difference. She is forcing false identity politics, for a reason: she wants us to FIGHT EACH OTHER instead of UNIFY. Within a university for Deaf people, what the hell does it matter who is what? When the students all come to the University, you know what I would do? (Yes, I'm an idealist.) Hold a Hogwarts-style banquet. Tell them it doesn't matter what they were before they came there. Now they are Deaf. It doesn't matter how well they sign; they are Deaf. It doesn't matter any of those differences. The language they can learn. The culture they create and change by their participation. They can speak? Call them "Deaf, can speak." We need to learn about, create, become comfortable with, and accept our "deafuality." We need to do it in a way that we feel comfortable being ourselves whereever we are. We want someone to lead us in that journey. This is why the Kaftans say:
She is right in saying the future of Gallaudet includes people of varying backgrounds, including those coming to know ASL and Deaf culture late in life. She is wrong, as is Howie Kent, however, in saying that has anything to do with why anyone in their right mind thinks she should or shouldn’t be president of Gallaudet University.

Right. Because they're all Deaf people. By virtue of making that (for some) first step of learning about themselves or taking that knowledge to higher education to transform with it into an educated citizen, they become Deaf. They plant the seed of Deafhood. Some may have it longer than others; that doesn't matter. We need to grow the seed. Because once you say "Deaf people can do anything except hear," what's next? Isn't it, "Well, let's do everything, now!"

Our society becomes ordered, when we become ordered within our minds; our minds become ordered when we become ordered within our hearts. -Confucius

Thursday, May 11, 2006

my 300th post

And a really great day.

NEWS: Wildstarryskies claims her sources say: stalemate between BOT and JKF?

thoughts: Let me explain the significance of my last post, and something which is a great concern for me.

Deaf students in high schools are protesting the selection of Jane Fernandes to the Presidency of Gallaudet University. These protests seem to be spreading. They are spreading among Deaf youth

As in, the people who will be GOING TO University soon.

As in, the FUTURE of Gallaudet University.

How this protest is handled by the Board of Trustees right now is an issue which will need to be addressed, and soon.

Food for thought... when you've lost the future, what have you got left?

Apparently NAD agrees. (Seems that others saw this first, as it's up on no, I'm not a stealer, just happened to see it.)

Updated: this is a great letter from the Democrat & Chronicle.


Shout out to General Jen who has just joined Tent City! She will be putting up photos later and I will link to them.

Lots of high schools joining in the protest. California School for the Deaf and Maryland School for the Deaf are both sending support as well as Deaf people around the country and around the world.

We know how important the protest is. Deaf leadership here in America translates to Deaf people empowering themselves all over the world. Fernandes may want to pretend this is a popularity contest; this is her choice. I see instead a community knowing we need someone who will fight for our survival.

Someone recently posted a list of "great things Fernandes did to improve diversity." Well, she claimed to have "improved diversity" at MSSD too, but what she really did was "baby down" the school.

I agree a disproportionate number of students who were held behind were Black students. I do not think it was the fault of MSSD. I think they got to the school with really poor education. I've commented on this blog about the plight of inner-city children, many of whom are Black - or Peurto Rican, like my own family. There's no easy answer to these questions, but the Fernandes solution seems to be to transform the school into a Job Center, just another form of VESID, to churn out McDonald's french-fry chefs. That's not the vision we need for a new century; we need to create a center of learning which will be open to all kinds of d/Deaf people to create a melting pot in which the underlying truths behind the Deafhood concept will become clear.

Let's be clear. I sign worse than Fernandes (friends disagree, but that's why they're friends.) I was raised orally. But I am still a Deaf person. I care about Deaf community more than almost anything except my family. We have a special fire. There is something golden about it. I want it to last forever. I don't want us to go back to the bad old days of peddling cards.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

quick updates

Very busy in the office today, but now I have three independent sources confirming that there were indeed no protestors or menacing people at the Fernandes home.

Elisa reports that there will be NO MORE OPEN FORUMS with Jane Fernandes. I guess she really doesn't have an interest in talking WITH students, only TO them (remember poor Ben having to GET OFF THE STAGE before the Queen of Mean would answer his question?) Or maybe she just has things to attend to with graduation coming up.

A friend in DC reports that now without Celia May Baldwin the BOT does not have enough members to make any decisions? Can someone explain this? Is the only way to stop Fernandes now, for her to resign?

Ridor also reports that members of the University administration are scared to take part in the protest. I have friends down there who also are afraid, so I know it's true. This is an example of Jane Fernandes leadership. She terrorizes her staff instead of being productive and refuses to encourage open dialogue. Maybe that worked at K-Mart, but I'm not sure it's a University-type leadership quality.

Wednesday Morning Coffee Open Thread

What do you think of the resignation of the BoT President, Cecilia May Baldwin?

I do not like she received threats, but here's my point: WHO? I commented on this morning and said:
It’s also worth reminding people that her e-mail address was public. Deaf people from all over the world are watching this - so are hearing people. It might not be anyone associated with either Gallaudet or FSSA or any other of the organizations involved here. Likely we will never know, but each side will use it as a cudgel to beat others over the head.

It could even be some crazy who just saw this and decided to make trouble. God knows there's plenty of people around without their heads on proper.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

cecilia may baldwin resigns

Apparently she got tired of receiving "aggressive threats" - I just read the letter. You can get the full story over at Elisa's Xanga.

If you go over to Sonny James' blog you will see another side of Jane Fernandes:
As the fall homecoming quickly approached, we had a booth to give out maroon and gold ribbons (MSAD colors) to the people that donated to the Eric Plunkett scholarship. The monies that we've collected were huge, we easily ambassed over the $25,000 needed to become endowed.

At the end of the semester, we were called into the Provost's ofice to meet with Eric's parents. Eric's parents thanked us for coming forward to work with the Provost for Eric and the scholarship. We all had a nice brief personal converstation and received a gift basket from them. I left the office stunned to find that Eric's parents were misled by Dr. Fernandes that she has initiated the scholarship and has seen to it that it has quickly become endowed. From that day forward, I never saw Dr. Fernandes as my Provost but as a person who is a cozener, when the credit should have been due to Deb Skjeveland, a real compassionate person who thought nothing of herself but for others. She is now a program manager for Camp Lakodia in South Dakota.

I bet Fernandes doesn't respond to this either. Maybe if she says "Hi!" it will all magically be okay. (/snarcasm)

Also, a Guest Blogger on makes the point that there are similarities between Harvard and Gallaudet:
Are Gallaudet and Harvard representative of what’s going on around the nation? I, for one, am glad to see students and folks stirring up the pot because complacency can hurt us. A friend and I have had many discussions about how Americans in general are apathetic, thus letting Republicans walk all over us.

The Gallaudet faculty has passed several no-confidence votes. Is this similar to Harvard in that this faculty is resistant to Fernandes’ attempts to raise academic standards by demanding more work, being more strict with students, and doing more research? Or is this a case of the faculty thinking that Fernandes has not done enough to help them achieve their goals during her tenure as Provost?

His conclusion is very wrong, though. He believes the Board of Trustees should not reopen the process because if they do they will give tacit permission that this could happen again on issues which are "less important." Well, what should possibly be MORE important to a Deaf university than that the students, staff, and people around the world in the Deaf community are against this decision? When the village which is raising the child stands up and says NO, you pay attention.

What is likely to be trivial and still cause this kind of outcry? For so long? Students staying at college after they could have gone home? People donating money for food and water and other necessities? It would be hard to top that, you know? I am not the type of person to accuse others. But this isn't just a bunch of kids on the lawn anymore. It hasn't been for a while. This is a movement.

poem I found in a conversation
gonna go out tarnished
could have changed the world
he was raised by the fire, then stifled it
the moment his hold loosened it escaped
and now it's bigger

I feel a bit bad for Cecilia May Baldwin. A friend of mine reminded me that they're still people. We get caught up in our excitement and forget that they may really believe they're doing the right thing, frustrated we don't understand. Oh, some people may be intentionally deluding others - that's politics. And some people may be bad all through. Still people though. And it's not easy to lose your job. Ridor would remind me of all the things that have been done by them or in their name: yes. But then none of us are angels.

leaving work... what happened today?

A gorgeous video showing support for Gallaudet.

Ridor reports the support of the Phoenix Association of the Deaf.

This is disgusting: Here and Now is doing PODCASTS on the situation and obviously we can't access it. Read what they are saying here:
Should the deaf... speak? It's a question that has been fiercely debated for the past week at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, the nation's only liberal arts college for the deaf. Last week, the board of trustees appointed Provost Jane Fernandes as president, over the objections of student protestors.

And last night, Fernandes received a vote of no-confidence from faculty. Her leadership abilities have also been questioned, but some are also upset that while Fernandes has been deaf since birth, she reads lips and speaks, and only later in life began to use sign language. The controversy has once again focused attention on what the outgoing president of Gallaudet calls identity politic in the American deaf community.

Lady Bright! The FACULTY issued a vote of NO-CONFIDENCE but they focus on Jordan's words! Yes, you can blame I King Jordan's smooth-talking for the "She's Not Deaf Enough" concept. Apparently he's been going around telling people this, and getting them to ignore the very real concerns of the protestors in favor of silly ideas.

Worse, he's doing it in support of another candidate when by his own admission Jordan is supposed to be neutral.

And now for something not-Gallaudet: Deaf Students in Utah have filed a lawsuit against Utah State University:
The lawsuit, filed Monday by a group of 12 deaf current and former USU students in U.S. District Court, seeks a declaration that the school violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which states no disabled person shall "be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs or activities of a public entity." The students also are seeking new policies for the accommodation of deaf students and unspecified monetary damages.

Wonder if these students concerns will be dismissed like the Gallaudet Protestors have been by the administration!

And a final note: for tears, read this. Is anyone going to help this poor deaf kid? I do think the parents may be "using" his deafness as an excuse to stay here in America, but it's also true they persecute Deaf children in other countries.

first you gotta get mad: an editorial

Lots of people calling for reasonableness on the part of protestors at Gallaudet. Lots of people decrying the anger and passion and emotion. Well, so what? People should be mad.

We're talking about a University that's supposed to be a model for the world to follow. Well, in the last several years, it's failed government inspections, developed a reputation for horrible education and racism, been the scene of very public murders, and has a swelling cup of student apathy. People are sad and tired and they don't know why; they don't go to meetings or even classes because they don't think they can change. Many Deaf people are still looking forward to SSI in their life and they get made fun of because of it, when the jobs aren't there and the access still ain't common (even here in New York City) and people themselves admit a Gallaudet education has problems and claim a resume with Gallaudet on it gets dumped in the trash. The government is cutting budgets for Deaf programs nationwide.

I don't know how to fix all this. But to paraphrase that guy in that movie, first thing I know is, you gotta get mad. You have to get mad and stand up and say Hey, there's something wrong here. You have to have passion and you have to have guts and you have to have feeling. Progress takes energy and the energy has to come from your heart.

For one reason or another, Jane Fernandes was where the buck stopped. Students and faculty couldn't take it anymore. Desperate for a brighter future for Gallaudet, and someone to show that SOMEONE is fighting back the rising tide of cuts, desperate for someone to show the leadership needed to get us out of this hole we're into, everyone's eyes were on this PSC. People have said a lot of "shoulds" - students SHOULD have gone to meetings, students SHOULD have gone to the BoT meetings, whatever. So should the faculty and administration. Seems like a lot of people were hoping things would work out on their own. Well, they didn't, and the walls came down.

And when they came down, nobody was standing on the other side to talk to the students. They finally broke through their apathy and nobody seemed to give a shit! The protest was "abortive." The protest was a "game." It was "a fun time in tents on the Gallaudet lawn." Everyone had their own take on it and none of it was good.

But it kept going. Because people were mad. They didn't know why but they've been figuring it out and telling everyone as it crystallizes in their minds.

It's the lapdogs of the administration who want people to calm down. They make "reasonable" comments. They do everything except engage the feeling and what lies behind the feeling. Look at Ridor - he called it the Blighting of Gallaudet. People didn't disagree. This is a fear people have had for a long time. I didn't go to Gallaudet because of the rumors about its politics and its education. I didn't think I would fit there, for all their lectures about Gallaudet having four legs and a tail with communication skills or whatever the hell that was about. I ended up going abroad for my Deaf Studies degree because of that feeling, because of those rumors. Gallaudet is losing students because of this. And the general consensus is, in six years as Provost, nothing has been done to deal with this perceived decline. People tell us not to look back at the Golden Age. Well, why not? If we have problems now, shouldn't we look to the past - to experience - to tell us how to fix the future?

But first thing you gotta do is get mad. And don't let anyone tell you you don't have the right to. Behave peacefully, be direct, emulate the work of Ryan Commerson and Paddy Ladd and Hlibok and Gandhi and Martin Luther King and all the other great heroes of the past. They got mad. They spoke up. They changed the world. Let your anger power your minds. Let everyone get out their pagers and write emails to the Board of Trustees. Write clear opinions on paper. Make it as clear and honest as you can. Send it out. SIGN IT OUT.

No, don't get violent. VIOLENCE IS FOR INCOMPETENTS. But *do* let yourself feel your own rage... and let it give you strength. You care about Gallaudet. This is the first time I've seen the apathy break in a while. No matter what else happens: KEEP THE FEELING.

Squabbling? Thank you very patronizedly

President Jordan has forever lost my support with his statements in the last few weeks:
Fernandes was named to succeed I. King Jordan, who in 1988 became the first deaf president of Gallaudet since the school was founded by Congress in 1864. He got the job after student protesters marched to the Capitol demanding a "Deaf President Now" following the appointment of a president who could hear.

Jordan, who backed Fernandes' selection, said the current protest reflects "identity politics" and a refusal to accept change.

"We are squabbling about what it means to be deaf," he said.

Jordan BACKED FERNANDES' SELECTION? I thought he was supposed to be impartial in the selection process? Again he demonstrates that he is a "close friend" of the BoT.

Hello? Deaf University for Deaf people and he thinks talking about what it means to be Deaf is squabbling? It should be one of the most important things in our lives! He demeans Deaf people - and makes claims that Deafhood is really Deaf Elitism. We want someone who understands Deafhood as President, yes - we don't want some Deaf social snob. Let's face facts - he's trying to erase all these other problems Fernandes has created. We need to have someone sending out press releases from our side on a daily basis. King talks to the media. We need to talk to media too - and send out information about all the corruption.


Monday, May 08, 2006

gally hits dailykos

A Deaf blogger has reached out to the people a commentor spoke about in Ridor's website, hearing people who remain ignorant of our story. Go give her some support!

In other news, Gallaudet has put forth a vote of no confidence in the new President, according to

But also, has claimed that the reports of Gallaudet students approaching the Fernandes home are lies. These reports originally came from and I do feel they are very serious-if true. I give kudos to Kaftans for trying to figure this all out - but I do not think they should have reported this crime without having some proof. We do not even know the details - if it is true. But if it was true, I feel they would have used the fact of crime to get police to take away protestors. I do not think Fernandes would just LEAVE IT and not do anything. Also, if it is true, we should be told so students will behave. But I have a hard time thinking someone would not tell police to protect their family.

Also, a note. I just read this interview given by Jane Fernandes, and the following answer is bullshit:
Q: What about the 75 students who went over to the Maryland School for the Deaf from the Gallaudet pre-college program while you were in charge?

A: There was a “white flight.” And at that time, there was a program [here] called the Special Opportunities Program. And of the 50 students were in the program, 49 were African-American. And that was a program that did not have very high academic standards, that didn’t have high expectation for the students. So I restructured the schools so those students would be integrated with deaf white students. And parents who didn’t want to work with that made a decision to move to other schools. And that’s their right to do that. And I hope they’re getting a good education.

There was no "white flight." Lots of programs were taken away by a new administration. Many teachers left MSSD. This is why students began to leave for other schools. There was not much racism. We were already living with Black students in the same dormitories and they were our friends. You do us a disservice, Jane Fernandes, by calling Deaf families racist. I also have mixed feelings about her characterization of the Special Opportunities Program. Many of the kids in that program had serious problems. They needed more attention than they could get in big classes. When they merged all classes, I remember teachers having to leave classrooms to get these students to calm down and control their behavior. The kids were embarrassed, the other students learned nothing, and it just made the whole situation very frustrating. We unfortunately have a lot of children who get no language access or support growing up. It's important to educate these, but when you put them in the same classes with other students, neither benefits - Jonathan Kozol writes about the futility of giving 9th-grade reading material to students and expecting them to understand it when they only have a 2nd-grade reading comprehension.

Finally - someone takes responsibility for saying "She Doesn't Say Hi!"


Today's edition of the Washington Post finally, FINALLY says the right thing:
On Friday, nine professors with backgrounds similar to Fernandes's -- they grew up speaking, went to public schools and didn't learn American Sign Language or immerse themselves in the deaf community until later in life -- wrote her an open letter saying she had misunderstood the reasons for the opposition. The real issues, they wrote, are about a flawed search process and ineffective leadership.

Admittedly this is like hearing people seeing a Black group vote for a Black person then getting confused as to why the constituents of the group aren't happy... then realizing that being Black isn't the sole reason for picking someone for a position. But I digress: the article continues:
I. King Jordan, the longtime president who plans to work with Fernandes for the next eight months and then step down, said recently that the board selected an academician with vision for the future of the university, "not the winner of the popularity contest." The board can't give the decision over to protesters, he said, without long-term implications for the governance of the school. It's not, he said, another "Deaf President Now," the movement that vaulted him into the presidency.

Jane Norman, a professor who was one of Fernandes's references, sent a widely distributed e-mail saying that protesters were pressuring others to join them. "We are going through a very difficult time but we will emerge as an inclusive university," she wrote. "Gallaudet is for all. Dr. Jane Fernandes has worked long and hard on diversity. Dr. Fernandes is our 9th president and will lead us into the 21st century."

WRONG, Mr. Jordan. WRONG, Ms. Norman. This protest is MUCH more important than Deaf President Now. We picked a guy who had a hearing problem in 1988. Now we are going beyond the problem to define Deafhood... and we get to say that it is inclusive. Not you. You removed yourself from the process when you decided not to open a dialogue with the students. The community makes these decisions, not a University President... and if you've been so blind as to not see the need for almost 20 years, well, maybe there's even more reason to have this protest now. Congratulations: you said Deaf people can do anything but hear. Well, they are. Doing, I mean.

We had to get past the ear one day; the heart is more important. My heart is a Deaf heart, despite the fact that I'm not a Gallaudet student. As Ridor points out Deafhood has nothing to do with deaf elitism! MSSD was where I began my trip to Deafhood. And a long strange trip it's been!

Can anyone get a picture of the dog with the t-shirt that says "Pet me to reopen the search process?"

Elisa Abenchuchan continues her great reporting. I found out she used to be on the BuffNBlue which was always my dream at MSSD (until I decided to leave the institution...) So no wonder, she has experience!
JACOBOWITZ [continuing]: King Jordan said to everyone--And I quote King Jordan verbatim--Quote: "I have a very [stressed], very [stressed] positive relationship with the Board of Trustees."--And then he said: "I represent the Board of Trustees."

[To the audience:] Do you all remember him saying that?

AUDIENCE [nearly in unison]: Yes, yes, yes!

JACOBOWITZ [to Baldwin and Humphries]: How can you say that King Jordan was neutral and then also say that he was not involved in the hiring process?

JACOBOWITZ [continuing]: I don't trust you two [pointing to Baldwin and Humphries]. I don't trust the Board of Trustees. I don't trust King Jordan. I'm very, very sorry. I used to think the world of him. I loved him. I loved him to death, because he was my professor, my academic adviser, and our dean [and president]... I used to look up to King Jordan, but now after what has happened, my trust in him and confidence in him as a person has completely collapsed and hit rock bottom. On top of that, what's worse is that you, the Board, did not listen to any of us. You didn't listen to the world. King has been twisting your arms all along.

I want to point out something else: Classes over. Finals over. Students still care enough to be there. I think Jordan and everyone were counting on students not having enough stamina or feeling to stay at the University until this matter is completed... they misunderestimated the depth of feeling!

one more thing: I found Jesse Thomas' blog on Xanga (and someone just taught me the sign for Xanga - tap the point of an X on the inside of your wrist! Cool!) through Jamie Berke's blog. He makes an interesting point about campus racism:
In the six years she has been Provost, I have seen no evidence of confronting this problem head-on. I have talked to people of color and they tell me that this situation has remained unchanged, if not worsened. The answer to this problem has been, it seems, to discuss it in committees. Gallaudet has a million committees discussing a million problems, and nothing appears to come out of it.

A big part of the PART report is that there is no quality assurance or quality improvement reports at Gallaudet. QA and QI ensure that the necessary work is completed. With handling racism, first we would document reports of racism, identify strategies to deal with it (staff training? alliances with local groups?), document actions taken to deal with it, and these would be available for review. Documentation would prove action had been taken, but as Jesse said nothing happens. This is to be expected without good QA and QI for which Provost is responsible.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

to Cloak and Dagger:

Cloak & Dagger
(#2303) | 2006-05-06 14:45:57

So the Board of Trustees meetings took place in February? Well, that’s more convenient, but after reading it, it doesn’t say much about student concerns’ about the administration. All I see is the the Committee on Student Affairs which was a panel of students who participated in internships, and reports from the Student Body Government and the Graduate Student Association. So, is that enough? Doesn’t look like it.

I keep hearing rumors about Fernandes’s radical approach in revamping the curriculums at Kendall and MSSD which caused an uproar among the teachers and parents. Can anyone comment on that?

Of course I was not privy to everything, but I can comment on this.

In 1996 MSSD finally received a new principal. Cindy Bailes had left a few years ago, and another woman named Viv Rice had taken her place. She was Acting Principal of MSSD while the search for her replacement progressed.

At the same time the Principal was selected, a new Director of the then-named Pre-College National Mission Programs was announced. Jane K. Fernandes would run both programs, and Kathy Jankowsky would be the Principal of MSSD. I remember the fascination everyone had with their initials. JK, KJ.

I was editor of THN, MSSD's newspaper, at that time. We had had a pretty awesome year. I was running the whole damn thing off my computer, really. (At the time I was using Windows '95. And it was COOL. Such a geek.)

I decided I wanted to write up articles on both women. I interviewed Ms. Fernandes. She was very pleasant and we had a nice talk. I wanted to impress her; like Adam, I thought she was very sensible. I think she seemed impressed by the questions I asked. I asked about her vision for how classes would work and teachers. She made one comment I remember about "believing any teacher should be able to teach any class." My friend still has the paper with the original article, I think - anyone got it? I got a scanner.

Well, I went ahead and wrote it up, she read it, and the very night the principal approved the paper, we ran the press and the day it was distributed, apparently, the teachers at MSSD got very, very upset. They didn't like a lot of the things JK had said, and JK had apparently said other things along the same lines at a variety of meetings. I didn't know any of this until that afternoon when I was taken to the office of the director of athletics. He and a couple of other people from the Athletics dept. acted very stern with me, accusing me of... I wasn't sure. I was 16 and pretty small and yeah, these guys made me nervous, because it seemed they already decided I was to be punished and I still had no idea what I did wrong at this point-I had no idea the teachers would take what had been said and become angry. What the heck did I know? Don't kill the messenger, right? And the principal had read the article and approved of it.

They threatened me with suspensions and various other things. Eventually - please understand my signing was getting better but it was still tough to figure out some of the things these guys were saying, I wasn't used to national sign diversity yet - I figured out they wanted me to retract everything said in the interview, admit I had 'pushed' until they approved the article, take all responsibility, etc. etc. I believe they thought that I had been trying to stir up trouble with that article.

The sponsor of the newspaper came to the office really pissed off. That man will always be a hero in my eyes. He brought me back - I don't really remember where to. I was very, very confused. Later someone explained about the teachers and I put it all together. It was strongarm tactics, you see. Like the faculty at Gallaudet have stated, she did not involve the MSSD teachers in any planning. She did not consult them or value their expertise. How was a teacher of English supposed to feel being told they should teach Math also? Their experience in the subject was not considered important. So rather than take responsibility for her statements, they tried to blame me.

But enough teachers remembered their words on stage at various presentations to know this was a lie. I had NO idea the teachers would get upset. I was NOT trying to stir up trouble and had no idea there was anything negative going on. I was BLIND to politics in MSSD. I'm still not good at it. Too blunt.

The teachers at MSSD were the ones who vouched for and fought for me. And when I graduated they awarded me a scholarship, decided only by the votes of the faculty, for excellence in journalism.

That year also saw the closing of the MSSD Road Show, a mostly self-financing organization run by an excellent man and teacher, Tim McCarty, and several other programs. The once-national school was reduced; it was decided only students from a 100-mile radius would be permitted into MSSD. I do not know if those changes were implemented; I left and could not bear to watch the changes in my school. They also established a "Talon" program where people earned basic rights - like the ability to leave campus - by being forced to join officially-established organizations. The amount of points earned were tilted sharply in favor of athletics programs; possibly this explained the eagerness of the athletics dept. earlier. (Others have informed me they never implemented the radius reduction and the "Talon" program was eliminated because nobody could understand it.)

This is my experience, and a personal narrative. I offer it in the hope people will develop more understanding of the current situation. I did not offer it before because it does not reflect well on Jane Fernandes and there was a possibility she might have changed. I do not judge the appropriateness of the leaders' decisions in the school. I believe they were aimed towards obtaining a certain population of Deaf people with the goal of performing educationally-related research. Find better ways to get Deaf people ok with the book larnin' and get jobs. In the process, I feel they took what was special about the school - the things which were most uniquely Deaf and MSSD - away.

This is my experience with her. I have hestitated to write it because it involved a lot of people and it deeply troubled me. I believe my actions enabled people to mobilize and prevent the damage that could have been done by revealing the true nature of the upcoming change in the school. I do not know what Jane Fernandes has planned for Gallaudet University. Again, I do not judge her. If others would like to correlate my experience, I would appreciate it. I would also like to say that there have been good things that have come from her intervention at MSSD. I have personally not felt that these good things have outweighed, to date, the things that were taken away, but this is a matter of perspective. And it is true people do not like change.

UPDATE: I would like to find the truth behind what is best for Gallaudet. From my experience, I feel Ms. Fernandes has some very good ideas, but has a record of conflict. This is not necessarily a bad thing. During her interview, according to Adam Stone on, she was uninspiring, emphasized that Gallaudet should not be a place people come to socialize but instead study, and talked about fundraising. She mentioned a grant from the National Science Foundation. These are very important points.

It is also important that Gallaudet be a team. She appears to be trying to speak to students on a daily basis by appearing before (often angry) students to answer their questions at rallies (reportedly at 1pm daily.) She does not seem to have much luck responding to their concerns. She does not seem to have made progress towards any kind of dialogue. Neither have I seen the students attempt yet any dialogue. I believe both groups are stubborn enough to stare each other down. I do not think this is going to be productive, for either students or faculty - or Ms. Fernandes. This is an important protest, but the lines are not as clear as before.

I tried in my essay yesterday to articulate why people are opposed to Ms. Fernandes. I believe it is because they want someone with a powerful vision of a positive Deaf future, especially in these difficult times. Ms. Fernandes has presented as uninspiring even to her most ardent supporters. The problem is Deaf people really don't know what to get inspired by. They know what they don't want, but beyond a Deaf person, there isn't much detail. I think both sides need to work on communication right now. But I worry it's too late to do any good. With both faculty and students seemingly against her, what can Ms. Fernandes do to up the ante and unify the University?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

parts of a letter

I began writing this in a comment on brought it here and added to it.

This protest is about what it means to be a Deaf person in the 21st Century. I King Jordan said that, and once again he is right. Deaf is not body or friends. Deaf is not ear or eye. Deaf is a culture and community; this is why it’s capitalized. When people act to improve the culture or community, they are approved of; or, when the involvement of that person benefits the culture or community, they are approved of. If their actions have somehow not benefited or instead detracted from the community, they will not be approved of. The feeling will not be clear. It will be a narrow “no” in the pit of Deaf stomachs. They will not themselves understand why. They will just know that there is a way forward and if this person is on that way, there will be no forward movement. And there must be forward movement, for, like sharks, cultures and communities need movement if they are to live.

It is not that Jane K. Fernandes can hear; she can’t. It is not that she can’t sign: she can. It seems the problem is that people are convinced she has her own interests at heart, not those of the University. Gallaudet is an institution, yes. Adam has pointed this out. It is not an institution that works quite like a corporation, because it is the face of Deaf people. Deafness has been called the invisible disability: well, Gallaudet is the place it can be seen, clearly, and this puts power in hands which move like mountains.

I think there is a vision that Gallaudet is a place to rehabilitate people to get ready for work, and there is another vision that Gallaudet is a center of culture, education, preparing the leadership of a people for a new age. These visions contrast and contradict each other. The students out there today have been under a regime which follows the former vision, which accepted it as normal. Yes, ASL is great, yes, Deaf culture: they give lots of great lip service to our ideals. I worry however that some people think of Gallaudet as just a big job center. This feeling has always been there; it was in some ways the original purpose of Gallaudet, to teach Deaf people so that they could be part of the world. I am sure there are people in Congress and the Senate who see Gallaudet and deaf people in this light. That's why we need strong leaders - capable Deaf people - capable of being capable while still being culturally Deaf.

Maybe this is why it's become a cliche that Gallaudet has a crummy education. The quality of what we learn isn't so important if the University is just a way to 'fix' broken Deaf people. Departments which further our future - the digital media and television department is one example - are closed in favor of certain others. The goal - the reason we're learning it - what? For some, it will be rehabilitation. But we have gone beyond seeing ourselves as people who need rehabilitation. We see ourselves as having value that needs to be cherished and encouraged. We need to see movement as we move to the future and further define our identity and, therefore, our value to the world. In the same way the acceptance of ASL as a language led to the understanding of signed poetry and other Deaf-centric forms of art, so will the understanding of humanity shared by Deaf Studies further our understanding of humanity.

We need that leader: the question to ask is, who is that leader?

The thing that pisses me off? I King Jordan stated that Gallaudet is a University and the presidency had nothing to do with the community. But he was the person who united the two when he was selected by BoT after the Deaf President Now protests. He won his position by uniting the two. Can't really go back to 1987.

racial bias in the selection process?

I pooh-poohed this when it first came up. Then someone found the academic search website, home of the company which found Gallaudet's candidates, and I took a look at the list of people - complete with photos - who work there. Sorry, but this doesn't do much to DISPROVE the concept of racial bias. I wonder what the NDBA group is up to and what they know?

update: NAD seems to be wanting to support the protest, even if it's just words right now:
Students have mounted protests since Monday, following the selection of Jane K. Fernandes, the university provost who grew up speaking rather than using sign language. Some faculty and staff have supported the students' actions, including a demand to reopen the selection process.

"We stand with these concerned stakeholders, who sincerely believe that they are not being respected nor heard," wrote Andrew J. Lange, president of the National Association of the Deaf, in an open letter posted Wednesday.

But then, maybe they're just concerned about the fallout:
Accordingly, the NAD calls upon the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees, President I. King Jordan, and Provost Jane K. Fernandes to take corrective action with courage and wisdom to resolve in a positive manner the growing discord, divisiveness and disconnect on and off campus. Such decisive action would begin the healing process and enable all involved to move forward. The current leadership must move expeditiously to “unite the community behind a common vision and inspire individuals and groups both on and off campus to reach for a noble cause bigger than any single person or issue.”

Members of the NAD and its supporters are deeply concerned that if this crisis is not resolved immediately and decisively by Gallaudet University, there would be increased risk for long term and permanent impact in the areas of recruitment, enrollment and financial giving. is on the ground in DC now - the thing about ridor, he does look for events to report on, but he will call bullshit on all sides. So should be interesting.

so here's my theory

There are two races of Deaf people. One of them come from the planet Earth. The other crashlanded in Virginia and various other states. The first race is calm, laid-back, and interested in quiet work and a steady life. The second has a blind, drooling lust for gossip and power.

Ridor was raised by two loving Earth parents and taught good values. But he knows the destructive powers which rest inside him. So when he saw his evil counterpart from Crypton rising to power within Gallaudet, he knew he had to do something.

He tried blue Spandex, but he wasn't ready yet. He took it off.

Finally he decided to leave the French Beret at home.

When his clothing was assembled, he went to join the Avengers: Elisa, Ryan, Chris, Allison, and all the other HEROES speaking truth to power.

(I wrote this to make fun of Ridor, who was pissed off I didn't call him one of the best bloggers. Well of course I meant best NEW bloggers when I mentioned Chris and Allison, but yes, my widdle Widor is a WONDERFUL blogger.)

Friday, May 05, 2006

two (well, three) fucking awesome bloggers

Chris and Allison Kaftan. If these two become the leaders of the Deaf community in the next several years I shall be QUITE happy. I shared AP History with Chris in high school - he's the opposite of the "Gallaudet Stereotype." He fought hard for a great education and still does. I've met his family as well - great people. He restored my faith in the ability of people to be logical. Not surprising from Chris, really. (Oh god, I just said "really." I've been reading way too much.)

I'd also like to mention the blog of Elisa Abenchuchan. This woman has serious reporting qualities and more balls than most of her fellow students. Keep going Elisa!

I realize the politics of this issue aren't going to be clear to a lot of people. How can they? Everyone seemed to want this to be FINISHED before it started.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


One thing that bothers me. I King Jordan got his position because Deaf people fought for the right to be represented by someone who inspired them and allowed them to retain a modicum of self-respect. Now he has the gall, after taking advantage of the Deaf community to become a University President, to say that the community is not important and the position has nothing to do with the Deaf community.

Hypocrite. To have seen those faces in the thunder of the streets and claim that lightning was a lie.

sick of it all

funny. basically the sense I'm getting from blogs like is that deaf people are uppity and should go back to their place. lots of comments among those lines, too.... it's pretty disgusting and ignorant. examples of ignorant logic:
  1. the university provides a terrible education, so the students are at fault when they don't succeed (gotta love this logic.)
  2. the board is wise, we must all trust the board (when barely ten years ago the board said deaf people were not ready to survive in the hearingworld, and when it contains 50%+1 (not 51%; obviously gallaudet's math dept sucks too) deaf people, and that one person, Ben Soukup, Deaf, was kept from voting.) (Certain people conveniently forgot this.)
  3. the students just want someone to say hi to. (get over this. a newspaper reported it. it's going to be our big exciting meme now because certain people have decided to take sides instead of be, you know, reporters.)
  4. deaf culture does not contain a commitment to excellence. (gotta love this one. what they mean, of course, after dissecting gallaudet, is that the UNIVERSITY does not maintain a commitment to STUDENT excellence. the administration seems to prefer playing politics to educating. deaf people in general, including myself, enjoy excellence.)

  5. But what do you expect from people who say stuff like

  6. History is full of assholes. What’s one more? (this one's my favorite.)

I'm tired of assholes. Frankly, anyone who can say THAT about this IMPORTANT institution doesn't have enough respect for the institution to be talking about it.

In other news, this woman seems pretty damn tough and deserves a type of edition of her own.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

forgot this bit

UPDATE: Seems to be a rally planned at Gallaudet at 4pm today. I hope people take this opportunity to work hard at drafting a coherent message from students to join the one put out by faculty.

Sandman and many others have decried the lack of organization in the protests at Gallaudet. One thing I want to bring up - today with blogging and paging, everything is happening really quickly. The world is naked. At the time of DPN, how long did it take for people to organize a protest? Yes, people had plans and ideas, but it took time. Fernandes' selection was announced - people immediately began to try getting together. Let's give people a little time to organize and support them instead of pulling them down.

And for people who dismiss student concerns - sorry, but I posted below that the teachers have basically been saying the same thing as the students. Yes, it's not a good argument to say someone is "not nice" - but the argument isn't substantially different from "patronizing"; the latter is just more specific. What we should ask is for students and faculty to be more specific and have a think tank to discuss what's really going on.

I have seen a lot of stupid comments - that she's not Deaf enough or whatever. That is always going to be there. But we need to weed out the serious concerns, like the PART review which may result in Gallaudet losing funds, the fact that the faculty have no confidence in her and have asked for her resignation... There's a lot of things to discuss here. The "feeling" that she's not nice may be covering up something deeper. Let's give Fernandes the chance to defend herself too - although Ridor is right; an evaluation of her time as Provost would be useful. Anyone up for doing that research?

Remember, the world is watching, as my friend Jen reminded me today.

wednesday deaf sports roundup

When I was young I hated sports. Now I dabble in baseball (not least because of Jason Giambi...) Anyways, cool article about two Deaf hockey players headed to Calgary:
Their purpose will be to participate in this weekend’s sixth Canadian Deaf Ice Hockey Championships as part of Team Quebec. The event, which takes place every four years, features the top deaf and hard-of-hearing pucksters from across the country competing for the right to represent Canada at the 16th Deaflympic Winter Games next February in Salt Lake City. The gold-medal game unfolds late Saturday afternoon.

Arya, born deaf, will play defence. This marks his fifth appearance at the championships, his fourth as a player, although he will only serve as a spare this time ‘round. He will also be an assistant coach. Witcher, a forward, will be making his playing debut, although he was also an assistant coach a few years back with Team Quebec.

Neat. Other Deaf people are also succeeding in Seoul:
Lee Seung-man, who is deaf, is leading halfway through one of the country's most prestigious golf tournament, the 25th GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship now under way in Yongin, Kyonggi Province, 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Seoul.

The 26-year-old golfer scored a six-under 66, including seven birdies, in the second round, leaving him two strokes ahead of second place Kim Sang-ki.

A Deaf Tiger Woods? He's pretty damn young.

In other news - no updates on the Gallaudet front. Talked with zlotte last night - both of us wondering what the hell is going to happen today. Newspaper coverage is continuing with the Washington Post, and their framing of Deaf people is a little better with quoting Sara Stallard. But I'd like to see them include the statement from the faculty too because right now it still feels like students are still complaining about being spanked, not like they have genuine concerns about the Presidency.

On a personal side - a big project I'm working on is making lots of progress. Hope to be able to share more soon!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

breaking: gallaudet faculty anti-fernandes?

update: via zlotte: the faculty have issued a memo calling for Fernandes' immediate resignation and the reinitiation of the search process.

The faculty senate at Gallaudet have joined their voices to those of protesting students. According to one comment on , apparently among teachers and others she has an approval rate of 34%-competing with George Bush for title of Worst President Ever.

Is Fernandes really that bad? We don't know-but the fact that many complaints were ignored tells me something.

Understand-from the first I have not felt students were listened to. They wanted to speak and be heard but were told their concerns were not important. I agree they were badly articulated but their problems with Fernandes are the same as the faculty's-the faculty just uses multisyllable words. The students say "not nice"-they say "patronizing." The students say she doesn't listen to them-the faculty say she fails to include them in the decision-making process. Folks, just because English ain't their first tongue is no reason to ignore the spittle.

I personally worry that since Fernandes has failed to contact or respond to people's concerns in a coherent way, she may not be capable of handling the high pressure of a university job where she must deal with many in a diplomatic way on a daily basis. 34% is pretty low.

Tuesday Morning News and Coffee Roundup

Most Deaf people have heard about the protests at Gallaudet in the face of the selection of Jane K. Fernandes by the Board of Trustees for the next President of Gallaudet University. As I said to Ridor last night, whatever the problems with Ms. Fernandes personally, the fact is hundreds of students and faculty seem to feel there is a problem, and their concerns were not addressed. This seems to me to be a far bigger problem than whoever the President of the University is, that there is such feeling behind this situation and these feelings aren't officially dealt with, except to tell those who feel as they do that they shouldn't worry.

I was also greatly disturbed to see someone actually ARRESTED. A former student decided to stand up and suggest people meet outside for a protest. This is oppression of freedom of speech however you put it - and reminds me of the woman removed from a Bush audience for wearing an anti-Republican t-shirt. Granted, this student is a well-known activist - we need more of them. Perhaps a true leader would have invited Mr. Commerson up on the stage to air his feelings. Perhaps they might have admitted to making mistakes in the past, and learning from them.

I don't have a solution or suggestion, oddly enough. I just think its sad that things got to this point, and I wonder who is showing leadership right now.

In other news, Scotland is fighting to improve employment conditions for their Deaf citizens.

Update: I'm sorry, this is hilarious.
She continued on, stressing that she would work to improve relations with students over the next eight months -- the transition period before Jordan steps down -- and that they would get to know a new Jane Fernandes. The role of provost is very different from the role of president, she said afterward.

She said it will be hard to follow Jordan. "I'm more of a quiet leader," she said. "Quiet but effective -- I have a different style."

She said a priority will be forging unity. "Because we have so many different aspects of the deaf community," different ways of communicating, different backgrounds and different priorities, "we need Gallaudet to pull all of these together. I think I can help to do that."

And, she added, "it's important for me to clearly say that I see ASL as the fabric that holds together Gallaudet's diverse community. So Gallaudet will always be a signing university. We will always use visual communication. We will always use that."

A few points:
1. People will get to know this "new" person and hope that the "new" qualities will be appropriate for this job; they haven't seen these qualities for six years? I don't think this is a fair response. Shouldn't it be her responsibility to demonstrate these qualities before she's offered the position?

2. She wants to unify the Deaf community - a great goal, and one I support - but how is this accomplished by arresting people who are upset with her appointment instead of engaging them in dialogue? Ms. Fernandes, please take ADVANTAGE of future such opportunities. Imagine if you had welcomed Mr. Commerson, complimented his activism, and asked him point-blank to clarify his opposition to your appointment - and rebutted his concerns. True, of course: you did not have to do that. Leaders lead; administrators wait for the proper time to sign the chitties.

3. "We will always use visual communication?" Uh, I hope so. I didn't realize this was an option on the table - taking visual communication away. I had NO idea the President of Gallaudet University had the power to blind me and still my ability to communicate. Next I expect she will say that grass will always be green, or hens will always lay eggs.

I hope this silliness is on the part of the paper, not the woman - I expect it is. So far all the criticism I have heard of Fernandes revolve around the fact that she's too strict and didn't grow up signing. I am both so I do not oppose these qualities! But Deaf people need to make a more coherent defense if they want to succeed in this protest. DPN had clearly delineated goals. I don't see anything clearly delineated except the amount of vitriol for Fernandes - something making me sympathize with her. How can she defend herself against uninformed hate?

From what I've read it seems the students sort of want this:
1. A person who GREW UP signing ASL (a fully culturally Deaf person) selected as President of the University. (I'm against this. It's just a form of reverse discrimination.)
2. A person who will declare support for one method of education. Deaf education has traditionally been divided between various camps - oralism, simcom, bibi, etc. So far the most successful programs have been the ones which have used signed languages. However, since oralists (ahem) have the ear of people with money, their programs tend to get the most funds - and the miracle of making someone speak, or seem to, and hear, or seem to, still attracts a lot of support. In the face of the high implantation rate of Deaf children, it is understandable that Deaf people seek an affirmation of their culture and language. Mr. Commerson's protest is very very understandable in this light.
3. A person who will be like the students themselves, and unite the students. This is indispensible for the coming generation. We need to accept that the Deaf nation has MANY tribes - and only by uniting the tribes can we really plan and prepare for the future.

What students need to do is organize and learn to codify their needs and demands in acceptable language. It can't be simple complaining that someone is too strict. The world is watching.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Blackberry restored

T-Mobile now carries the Blackberry 8700g which I recommend to anyone looking for a new phone. No setting up to do beyond telling the phone to send my emails to the new machine (that easy!) Full color screen with great photos, themes, and the interface has greatly improved.

Went to Tribeca Film Festival "Embedded" panel on Sunday (PattyO, you should've come - they were taking five bucks at the door for seats!) Good lecture with me getting lots of insights on making documentaries and the politics involved - they talked about everything from the War to participant honesty. More soon, once blackberry is set up. Must name it. Hmmm...