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GALLAUDET PROTEST



Excerpt from NY Times article, Oct. 30, 2006, p. A1:



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Here is a transcript of the news report which aired on October 25, 2006:

LESLI FOSTER (anchor): "Well, students simmer at Gallaudet University tonight, following a confrontation with security personnel this morning. Their issue with the administration over the appointment of a new president remains unsettled."


"Phyllis Armstrong has the latest developments from Gallaudet University in Northeast. Phyllis."

PHYLLIS ARMSTRONG: "Well Lesli, it is quiet at the main gate of Gallaudet right now."


PHYLLIS ARMSTRONG: "But earlier today, the University President ordered protesters cleared away from the Brentwood entrance, and that touched off a dispute between the students and campus security."



(Speaking into radio:) "They're on the backhoe. They're not letting it be operated."

PHYLLIS ARMSTRONG: "A confrontation at Gallaudet's Brentwood gate leaves students and their belongings smoldering."

(Voice of interpreter:) "But they physically hurt me, and so I'm angry. This is very wrong."

PHYLLIS ARMSTRONG: "University security officers and physical plant employees tried to clear away the makeshift living quarters, while some protesters were still in their tents."

(Voice of interpreter:) "DPS and the special police that are here, became very physical while they were grabbing all of our things, which was very damaging, and trying to push us around. I mean, all we were trying--we weren't trying to stop them--we were trying to communicate with them."

[Student leader LaToya Plummer--on the right]



"The University had told me that they wanted this gate opened."

PHYLLIS ARMSTRONG: "A DC police officer and student leaders appear to reach a temporary agreement on the Brentwood Gate."

"As of right now you can have the gate. In the event somebody needs some help, that you would at least cooperate with the emergency personnel."

(Voice of interpreter:) "Yes, of course. We will. We will do that."

PHYLLIS ARMSTRONG: "Earlier the students made another move to get the administration's attention, temporarily occupying College Hall. That is where President I. King Jordan's office is located."

"We're not playing games. This is serious for us."

PHYLLIS ARMSTRONG: "Debbie Potts and seven other students are on a hunger strike, pushing their demand that incoming president Jane Fernandes resign."

PHYLLIS ARMSTRONG: "Student leaders claim nine of the twenty-one members of the Board of Trustees agree with them."

(Voice of interpreter:) "And if they [the administrators] need to resort to violence to get us out of here to end this protest, they're going to have to do it. But things are going in our favor."

PHYLLIS ARMSTRONG: "Now student leaders were supposed to start a meeting with President Jordan at around 3:30. They haven't come out yet to tell us what happened in that meeting. But their concerns had to do with the Brentwood gate, as well as the hunger strike, which is now in its 12th day for at least one student."

PHYLLIS ARMSTRONG: "Now a university spokesmen told me that administrators are getting very frustrated and they're hoping that that special meeting of the Board of Trustees on Sunday will help them come up with a solution. Right now the Board chair is continuing to support Jane Fernandes in her decision not to step down. Lesli?"

LESLI FOSTER: "Alright. Phyllis Armstrong reporting. Phyllis, thank you."

VIDEO:

NOTE: The video is apparently not available currently on the WUSA web site. CLICK HERE to contact WUSA to ask them to restore the video.

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Gallaudet razes 'tent city' at gate

By Arlo Wagner

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

October 26, 2006

The protest over incoming Gallaudet University President Jane K. Fernandes became heated yesterday as school officials tried to reopen one of the gates that students had been blocking for more than two weeks and protesters tried to take over an administration building.

A large earth-mover scooped up tents that the protesters had set up near the Brentwood Road gate and the students' belongings before it started to lift a fired-up grill which protesters had been using to stay warm. Metropolitan Police and the D.C. fire department were called.

Four students were injured during the confrontation.

Graduate student Brian Morrison, 23, of Fremont, Calif., said he was injured when the steel gate was moved back and its wheels rolled over one of his toes.

"I was just standing there peacefully holding the gate with my arms and got injured doing so," he told the Associated Press.

Others suffered bruises and their clothing was torn.

Trevor Baldwin, 20, a sophomore from Indiana said the situation happened "very, very fast."

"They were throwing things at my tent ... They were very physical," he said, describing how officers pulled him off the metal gate.

Dexter Jones, 20, a sophomore from Florida, said he was standing next to a police car when an officer opened the door, bruising his leg and tearing his jeans.

"It became chaotic," said freshman Sean Stone, 18, of Phoenix, adding that a truck backed up against him. "There was no warning. Now we feel we cannot trust the system."

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NOTE: Some students had rallied peacefully and very briefly in first-floor hallway of College Hall (see paragraph two), and left quickly without the prompting or involvement of the campus police. Parenthetical remark in square brackets added below.

Police bulldoze protesters' encampments at Gallaudet

Scott McCabe and Joe Rogalsky, The Examiner

2006-10-26 09:00:00.0


WASHINGTON -

Gallaudet University police clashed with campus protesters and bulldozed their encampments Wednesday as tensions flaired in the third week of demonstrations over the selection of the next president of the nation's premier school for the deaf.

Student demonstrators took over the first floor of the administration building early Wednesday morning, but left after police surrounded the building. Protesters tried to block some of the entrances [to the campus], but were removed by university police. A bulldozer was used to move tents, furniture and bedding that had blocked the entrances.

No arrests were made, but protesters said some students were injured and two were taken by ambulance to a hospital. The students said one man's toe was crushed and they showed reporters spots of blood that marred the pavement; marking "first blood shed in the Gallaudet protest," according to the demonstrators.

University spokeswoman Mercy Coogan could not be reached late Wednesday.

"We're very upset about what happened," said third-year student Christopher Corrigan. "We didn't deserve this. We going to stay out here as long as it takes to get our point across."

Corrigan said he was roughed up and kicked by police.

This is the third week of demonstrations by students, faculty and alumni who oppose the selection of incoming president Jane Fernandes. The demonstrators say she'll be an ineffective leader and she says the protesters don't like her because she's not deaf enough.

The protesters have been demonstrating since Oct. 5. Last week university officials arrested 133 protesters and canceled homecoming and, on Sunday hundreds of demonstrators marched from the Northeast Washington campus to the U.S. Capitol.

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RELATED INFORMATION:

Officer faces jail for tipping paraplegic man out of chair

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The Baltimore Sun

First step in Gallaudet revolution?

By Kelby Brick


November 2, 2006

To many at Gallaudet University, the removal of Jane Fernandes as incoming president represented merely the first step in reforming a repressive system that excluded stakeholders from the governing process.

The Deaf President Now protests in 1988 installed a deaf person as president, but they did not reform this almost 150-year-old entrenched bureaucracy of paternalism.

Gallaudet's governing system has been led by a self-perpetuating board that appoints its own replacements with very little external input. University bylaws prevent the board of trustees from receiving any communication or information from the campus community independent from the president's office.

Moreover, the university's governing system was set up in an era when deaf people had very little say in how they were to be governed - and were viewed as incompetent.

Such exclusion of stakeholders from the governing process reinforces institutional "audism" - discriminatory attitudes and practices based on the inability to hear. Because of limited interaction with the campus community, board members have not been exposed to its true diversity and thus have made decisions in a vacuum. Only a minority of board members are university alumni, which underscores their limited knowledge of campus concerns.

The campus community became frustrated because it was unable to get the board to address critical issues and hold the administration accountable for numerous failures. Sparked by groups of minority students objecting to the exclusion of a prominent black candidate from an all-white group of finalists, the protest quickly attracted supporters who had their own exposure to a governing system that seemed autocratic and unresponsive.

The protest then morphed into a characteristic revolution underpinned by a long list of grievances: systematic institutional discrimination (including racism and audism), rapidly falling academic achievement (as noted by a federal government report), repeated campus security misconduct, and administrative intimidation and retaliation...

When officials of an autocratic system sense they are losing power, they frequently turn to propaganda, restrictive policies on information and physical coercion to retain power and suppress dissent.

Those outside Gallaudet were confused by what was happening on campus, and this confusion was reinforced by the administration's implementation of a disingenuous media strategy: branding dissent as terrorism. University officials argued that there should be a "new order of deaf people" and claimed the campus community was afraid of technology - ignoring the fact that this campus revolution was led by many people who, like Ms. Fernandes, grew up reading lips before learning American Sign Language later in life.

The administration sought to claim that protesters were unreasonably charging Ms. Fernandes with not being "deaf enough." When this was exposed as a red herring, the administration instituted - under the guise of safety - a campuswide policy restricting public assembly and discourse. When this failed to stop the protests, the administration turned to mass arrests of students (known on campus as Black Friday) and other displays of dangerous brute force, such as the bulldozing of students' overnight shelters without checking first to ensure those structures were vacant.

The removal of Ms. Fernandes, who had been one of the top officials at Gallaudet for the past 11 years, is seen as only the first step. Gallaudet now faces a defining moment. The board needs to move expeditiously to become more inclusive and transparent, while demanding measurable accountability from the university administration. The campus community needs to return to its task of teaching and learning while working with the board in developing the kind of "shared governance" system that has been instituted in so many other colleges and universities.

Perhaps the person most critical to the university's future will be the outgoing president, who has two months left in his presidency. President I. King Jordan can renounce the propaganda and lead, through example, the process of forgiveness. He can bring together stakeholders to reform the system. His lasting legacy - and to a lesser extent, Gallaudet's future and viability - will be determined by his conduct and decisions in the next two months.

The outgoing president can determine whether the recent crisis was a revolution for a better Gallaudet - or a rebellion that still needs to be put down, along with the university itself.

Kelby Brick, a deaf attorney and Gallaudet alumnus, is former director for law and advocacy at the National Association of the Deaf and co-author of "Legal Rights: The Guide for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People." His e-mail is kelbybr...@gmail.com.

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This Web site mentioned in: The Chronicle of Higher Education (February 22, 2008), The Washington Post (June 3, 2006), The Examiner (October 19, 2006), Fox News (DC) (October 6, 2006).




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