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.