354: Something Seen on Kendall Green
I did the cartoon below after reading Gallaudet SBG President Noah Beckman's comments today to the Gallaudet Board of Trustees:
So we ask for your advice, what should we do? Should we quit and go home and pretend that there is no crisis? Should we accept that Jane Fernandes doesn’t care about me? Should we accept that when a large people, not four or five students, but a large number of students, faculty, staff, and alumni have a problem, the board of trustees and the Administration are not willing to address it? You know the stories, you know the problems. We shared it with you last May. We have a problem. What are you going to do about it?
The question wasn't a taunt or insult. It was honestly meant. (See the speech here! h/t Elisa Abenchuchan.)
MishkaZena continues this thread: the BOT aren't listening. Jordan isn't listening.
Equally important, nobody is trying to figure out how to communicate with the students. Isn't that kind of weird? The students are holding rallies. Demonstrations. Giant cardboard ears walk the campus. Tents line Kendall Green. You'd think there would be an effort towards an open and frank dialogue.
This is just my opinion, but, their behavior towards the faculty, alumni and students participating in the protest is highly patronizing and reliant on muscle and rules.
If I were Irving and the BOT, I would be trying to figure out exactly why Fernandes is causing so much commotion. I would be sitting with the students saying, "I don't understand. She seems cool to me. We hung. What's wrong?" I don't see a lot of respect on their part for the students. I'm not talking about agreement - I'm talking about respect. Without respect there can be no true dialogue.
Also, Jordan, as a President of a Deaf University, should understand the Deaf experience enough to understand this is totally the wrong way to handle things. We get frustrated when communication gets difficult, or is ignored, thanks to often-oppressive school experiences, whether in mainstream or Deaf school, and the issues we develop during the process of Deafhood, as we decide our relationship to being a Deaf person, the Deaf community, our families, etc. - this state of being ignored, of frustrated communication, is calling up a lot of bad memories and connects to many similar experiences for many people. This kind of "gatekeeper" behavior, as author Paddy Ladd calls it, does nothing to benefit Deaf people or empower us. It's important to respect that and take the time to listen to people, instead of being one of the "thousand and one daily traumas" of the Deaf experience.
Isn't one of the three Pillars of Gallaudet "Open Communication?" Isn't that false advertising with all this oppression of freedom of speech? Decide on your goal - is it peace on campus and an environment of productive learning? - and go from there.
(all images copyright joseph santini 2006)