Monday, December 11, 2006

387: Davila's Speech: with coffee

So it has turned out to be the famous Dr. Robert Davila, who I unexpectedly like. (And sir, if there's any jobs available in your administration, let a man know!) Seriously, you can see video of his speech here, straight from Gallaudet. My thoughts as the man speaks:

There's some introductory speech (UPDATE: by Pamela Holmes, chair of the BOT), then Davila takes the stage at 19:34 (is it just me, or is Gallaudet intent on using outmoded video players? This was clunky...) He gave a very interesting speech.

He states he has to deal with the lack of open communication on campus by establishing a non-affiliated person for students/faculty to talk to, an email hotline (no word on if this is anonymous!), etc. etc. "We need to open things up for you. We need to make people feel like when they speak on this campus, they will be heard." (Yes, I did find the last sentence funny.) He wants to find ways to put such paying-attention systems into place, to aid his successor; Davila will, he states be president for 1 year.

This sounds good, but at this point I was reminded of Fernandes and Jordan repeatedly stating: We hear you. We just don't agree with you. And I remember reading that Glickman book on Deaf Health and Mental Health where the author stated he found his employees and clients were most comfortable when they were allowed to set the parameters of their own communication.

What I mean is there has to be more than listening, at Gallaudet. When a Deaf person can go to a hearing college, get an interpreter provided for full communication (like I had,) why go to Gallaudet if they can't understand all the teachers? The benefit is supposed to be barrier-free education. That's Gallaudet's value-added - what makes their education special for Deaf individuals. Gallaudet needs to get back to making the campus barrier-free. They need to go through the whole campus like a Deaf person and find out all the spots - like DPS which can't sign - and make them accessible. For so many reasons.

24:03 - Davila mentions a rumor going around in the blogs - already retracted by Ridor, as I noticed in my last post - that he is not supportive of ASL as a language. Kind of shows the power of reporting, doesn' t it? But also, Mr. Davila, as you say later, we're our own worst critics, and Ridor honestly and immediately retracted his statements.

Davila goes on to clearly - and honestly - explain the problems now facing Gallaudet, including the MSA problems. I was impressed with his speaking ability. His signing has personality, and he definitely has the Old Deaf running through him - not in a bad way - he's a pleasure to watch! He reminds me a little of Malzkuhn, and Doug Alker who was President of the BDA in England. Finally, a real leader, who isn't just reading from a script - he knows his subject, he looks at his audience... Could it be someone who signs well might be recognized by the world as a real leader?
We need to be our own worst critics because if we're not, other people will take that role - and that's not a position we want to be in. (38:21)
Mr. Davila - this is exactly my philosophy. This is the blog philosophy - we have to work hard on our writing and positions. I wish you the best of luck at the University over the next couple of months. Remember you have young minds to guide and grow, not herd and control. This is not a madhouse with inmates; this is a school with young people. When people tell others about their boundaries and limitations, they need to be listened to - and if not agreed with, respected. When Jordan and Fernandes forgot that, they had already lost, though the protest hadn't begun.

Davila goes on to actually confront the PART report (something Fernandes and Jordan had yet to do) and state the first part of the plan to deal with it - is to collect information, which (if you read between the lines) is exactly what Fernandes and Jordan failed to do. Kudos to Davila for dealing with this!

Around 39:50 - talks about going back to Congress to get funding "restored?" Wants to take advantage of the Democratic Congress. I wonder if he could say a word about savedeaftheater?

40:30 - this seems like a big bombshell to me - there is information badly needed which Jordan doesn't have available or has not yet made available to Davila. This is starting to anger me, because I see a pattern. Ridor has been accusing the Jordan administration of corruption for a while. I have not gone that far. But the failure of the PART report is basically a failure of accountability, and if you see exactly what Gallaudet failed, it mostly has to do with honesty and providing accurate numbers and paperwork. Bascially, you get points for writing your name down if you show up, okay? That's what this is about. I feel terrible for Mr. Davila - it's a horrible thing to take over a job and be so far behind in the work your program needs to accomplish, and requires a lot of sleepless nights.

43:23 - has a deep respect for faculty governance systems. Was a member of many, and understands their importance. Will be setting up discussion panels. (I wonder, will he be sending letters to parents about the protest? Parents of Gallaudet Students, I mean, because I remember reading somewhere that Jordan never reached out to parents who wrote with their concerns about the protest. Davila may need to take over that part of continuing and resolving the Unity for Gallaudet protest.)

44:39 - nice comment from Davila - that both the other candidates for this position have skills that he wishes to tap in the pursuit of resolving the issues he faces on assuming leadership of the University. Seems they are already both involved. I think he's giving a message to people: We have 18 months. Let's get busy. (Update: Marshall has thrown his weight behind Davila.)

Can you tell I warmed up to Davila? I really did - he's obviously a mentor to a huge variety of minds, which is what a University is supposed to be about. He looked at his audience like an experienced professor and leader, and he spoke with emotion, even passion in some places. Could this be the man - this man who speaks before the Hill with such success, while still retaining an excellent ability to sign - be a model for students to achieve Deafhood? Will he remove the barriers which have risen on campus?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

interesting comments about Davila... i agree seems he is starting to pull together gally!