Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Responses to Randal Kidd's questions (interview online)
November 6, 2006 Q. Explain your experinces at Gallaudet when you were attending, and how does it contrast and/or compare to the current situation? My experiences at Gallaudet from 1984 to 1986 opened a window of opportunity for me to be immersed in an ASL environment where diversied Deaf people mingle other than my deaf family and hometown deaf community. I have fond memories at Gallaudet and developed several everlasting friendships. One of my buddies was Suzy Rosen as we share the same dorm, the good old Krug Hall, also Tim Rarus and Greg Hlibok resided there. We were just college kids having so much fun. About contrasting and comparing the current situation, are you referring to the DPN 1988 and Unity for Gallaudet? If so, I have not gotten the opportunity to experience the DPN 1988 protest. Here is an article that shows analysis by Patti Durr between two movements http://www.aslcommunityjournal.com/blog/. If you are referring to the administration, faculty/staff and students, I can tell you a few things. About the administration, I recalled prominent deaf leaders such as Roz Rosen and Harvey Goodstein leading Gallaudet College (at that time). There were no Deaf Studies programs nor Linguistics on ASL department just sign language department. I recalled how the Student Body Government was filled with ambitious, and strong-willed leaders. My perspectives on Gallaudet teachers vary from marvelous to appalling. I enjoyed having an Algebra teacher who was so fluent in ASL but had to put up with another teacher who was patronizing my class. Oh you may wonder if they are deaf? Actually both of them are. The quality of education may have improved today than my time as I would like to believe. I have seen more advanced program and expansion of departments at Gallaudet Univeristy which is a good thing. The unfortunate change is the declining population at Gallaudet. I recalled we had about 3,000 students and the dorm was getting full. Today it is not even an issue. Q. Why are you so invested in this protest? Any particular reason? I have been following the protest since May but not as closely as I should. Last October, a growing number of FSAA members who participated in supporting the protest had drawn my attention. I decided to take the time to analyze and gather documents to convince myself that the protest is justified. I have been around people who have shown little understanding of the purpose of the protest so I wanted to contribute my articles to see the light. Q. What are your stance on the overall protest? Were you with the protest at the start? As I had mentioned earlier, I was being objective at first. Remember that there are always two sides of the story but the question is who should we believe? That time in May 2006, the development of negative track record of Fernandes' was little known and was not yet shared by the faculty and the staff. I was picking up the aspects of historical problems faced by the faculty when Jordan ushered Fernandes as a provost without faculty input and acceptance. Gallaudet University has violated shared governance and that needs to be changed. If it weren't for the protest, there will be a number of years ahead to break this barrier; not only about governance but about racism and audism. How could BoT choose a black deaf candidate who met more qualifications over most candidates who were the finalists? How could it be possible that the professors still don't master the use of ASL in the classroom? Q. Do you have any soultion to this crisis? (Is it something else other than total resignation by JKF or is there any other alternative? State it.) For JKF to step down as president-designate is the first solution as we have seen this to happen. It helps to pacify the Gallaudet community for now but the Board better come up with a plan to select an interim president who will correctly represent Gallaudet University for a time being. They need to revisit the guidelines in the search process and make modifications where more input from FSAA is encouraged. The BoT must make more effort to gather the pulse of the Gallaudet community. Q. What is your reaction to the arrest on Oct. 13th and the "massacre" at MSSD Gates on Oct. 24th? I asked myself; was the arrest really necessary? Heck, no! It was really appalling to learn that I.K. Jordan ordered the arrest especially that he was a product of the 1988 DPN protest which put me in a twisting mind-boggling state. But on the other hand, this event triggered more deaf prominent leaders to respond to Gallaudet administrators and the BoT by sending countless letters and popped up more than 86 tent cities! Perhaps it is a good thing to have a "Black Friday" arrest to happen since it creates a symbolic moment especially on Friday, the 13th. What a right timing for that and thanks to Jordan for contributing the picture of oppression and shame by his own actions. Yes, the students were blocking the gates although they had kept one open and allowed MSSD students and staff through. There were a few tactics done by the protestors that I found not supportive such as vandalism but it was not frequent and severe. The overall protest where the students could have the right of freedom of speech was conducted in a non-violent peaceful way so to the contrary to what Fernandes and Jordan had labeled them as the mob, anarchists and terrorists. Oh please! They manipulated the media using a well spent PR to orchestrate the lines to counterattack the protestors making them looking bad and themselves strong. For the students to be bulldozed during their dozing moments raised many eyebrows especially when the students were not even checked by the PPT or DPS in their tents first. My impression is that these departments have failed to communicate with the students and have bored oppression upon them by reacting physically. A student lost his piece of a toe and the way Jordan's administration had reacted like "it was just a toe" disgusted me. It tells me that there is a lack of empathy and care by the administration toward the students. I was even more shocked to learn about what Dr. Mather said about how Fernandes as a provost had neglected the familiy of Carl Duprees. See video The Legacy of Carl Dupree. Q. What inspired you to write an pair of essays? Will you be writing another one very shortly? I just wanted to take the role as a researcher to gather the facts on justifying the aspects of the protest. It is like discovering pieces of dinosaur bones and putting them together to identify what kind of creature it is. As we most have read the infamous article from retired NTID teacher, Jack Slutsky and other articles from ignorant journalists, we have decided to form a coalition of Deaf activists seeking to educate the public about removing the misconceptions and myths of the protest and the Deaf culture. I feel that the impact on how the outsiders view the Gallaudet protest was either vague or patronized. So I have decided to start up my blog like many others and my website is http://deafprogressivism.blogspot.com/. Well folks, we still do need a lot of work to do! Just speak out and write what you think is right. Go ahead and make a statement! This is America!
Posted by Barb DiGi at 1:16 AM