Deaf President Now
November 6, 2006
Students Protest at
Deaf students are
University! The appointment of Dr.
Jane K. Fernandes as president of
University caused a strong reaction
from the university’s students. Student protesters camp ed out on lawns and
brought classes to a halt. (USA
Today, 2006). After eleven days of protest and 130 arrests, classes were
back in session, and the university’s Board of Trustees had revoked Dr.
Fernandes’ contract. Student protesters celebrated a victory for the school
and for the deaf community. “Deaf Power” was shown to be alive and well at
University, the premier liberal arts
college for deaf students, has known student protests in the past. The
out-going president, I. King Jordan, was hired as president after student
protests in 1988. He became first deaf president of Gallaudet. (CBS News,
supported Jane Fernandes’ appointment to president of the university. He
thought Dr. Fernandes had a great vision for the university. Fernandes felt
Gallaudet must “reach out to a broader population of deaf and
hard-of-hearing students”(CBS News, 2006) for the school to remain viable.
She stated declining enrollment and graduation rates mandated need for
change. (CBS News, 2006). Students countered the campus is “ASL [American
Sign Language] orientated” and Fernandez didn’t promote a total ASL
Today, 2006)&n bsp; Dr. Fernandez had, they said, mainstreamed in school and
didn’t learn American Sign Language (ASL) until age 20. (CBS News, 2006).
Students were also concerned their feedback had not been taken seriously.
Students should have a greater voice in choosing the president of the
college, they said. Students wanted someone who was part of deaf culture
with a strong voice for the deaf. Students were also concerned about
Fernandes’ leadership ability. They also voiced concerns about whether or
not Dr. Fernandes would promote racial diversity at Gallaudet. (USA
Today, 2006).& nbsp;
One of the core
beliefs behind the student protests at Gallaudet is the preservation of Deaf
Culture. A whole culture has developed especially since the student
University in 1988. Not only has
American Sign Language fostered the Deaf Community Culture, but so has the
prevalence of the deaf marrying the deaf. Deaf values have developed in the
Deaf Community, as well, creating a unique environment and culture. With
the growth of Deaf Culture has come unity and loyalty within the Deaf
Community. It has also fostered a belief that deafness as an asset, not a
disability. The Deaf Community wants to protect and promote Deaf Culture.
(aslinfo.com, 2006). With onslaught of medical advances and push from
outside the Deaf Community for the deaf to become hearing, there are
concerns that the Deaf Community and Deaf Culture will become a thing of the
University is one place that Deaf
Culture is held dear. The student protests testify to the relevance of Deaf
Culture. Winning the battle for a voice in the administration and
leadership of Gallaudet is a victory for Deaf Culture. As one student said,
overturning Dr. Fernandes’ appointment was a triumph for “Deaf Power.” (New
York Times, 2006).
at university for the deaf, protests continue. (2006). Examiner. Retrieved
October 31, 2006 from
(2006). asinfo.com. Retrieved
November 1, 2006 from
Deaf school's leader ousted amid
University's board rejects incoming
president Jane Fernandes. (2006). CBS News. Retrieved October 31,
2006 from http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/10/30/national/main2136113.shtml.
Dorell, Oren. Gallaudet classes
resume as protests continue. (2006). USA Today. Retrieved October 31,
2006 from http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-10-17-gallaudet_x.htm.
Schemo, Diana Jean. (2006). At
university for deaf, protesters press broader demands. The New York Times.
Retrieved October 31, 2006 from http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/31/education/31gallaudet.html?pagewanted=all.
Gallaudet protest moves to
Capitol Hill. (2006). Examiner. Retrieved October 31, 2006 from
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