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Why we are supporting the protest against Gallaudet University

The protest is against the designated election of Jane K. Fernandes, who is due to take up her position as President of the University on January 2007 – the protesters have serious concerns regarding her election and have been protesting against this since May 2006.


1. Mass arrests of Deaf people in Washington D.C.

134 students were arrested in Washington D.C., at Gallaudet University, the only Deaf university in the world, on 13th October 2006. This was the biggest mass arrest of anyone in Washington D.C. since the 1960s.

2. Arrests were carried out in the dark, and ordered by the President of the University

Deaf people communicate visually – so how are deaf people expected to communicate in the dark while being arrested? The arrests were ordered by Irving King Jordan, President of Gallaudet University.

3. The Presidential search process was flawed; there are allegations of racism

All candidates were white, in spite of the university having a diverse range of staff and students. One of the applicants was an African-American, Dr. Glenn Anderson, who was not even shortlisted, even though he has a PhD and years of experience at the University of Arkansas plus other institutions. Instead, another person was shortlisted, Ron Stern (white) who is still in process of securing his doctorate degree and has no college administration experience.

Why did a person with less experience and qualifications make the final shortlist? Where was the fair selection?

It was African-Americans who first protested against the appointment of Jane Fernandes, on a point of racism.

4. Jane Fernandes secured her position as Provost at the university by improper means

For 6 years Jane Fernandes has held the position of Provost at Gallaudet. She got this position, through an improper process. Prior to this she was Vice President of the Clerc Center. In 2000, The Faculty Senate objected to the improper appointment of Jane Fernandes to the Provost position and reprimanded Dr. Jordan, which he admitted and apologised for wrongdoing (in 2000). He did not undo the process but allowed her to remain as Provost. For more information, see Dr. Carol Erting, Senator, University Faculty Senate, Professor and Chair, Department of Education

5. Jane Fernandes has shown poor leadership qualities in her time as Provost

There is evidence that Jane Fernandes has failed in her leadership on campus over 11 years in her two positions. Promises made were not followed through, including issues on racism. There have also been accusations of audism (i.e. discrimination against deaf people).

6. Protests against Fernandes have come from teachers and parents

There have been open letters from teachers and staff of the Clerc Center National Deaf Education Center (a model school) on Gallaudet campus detailing their experience under Dr. Fernandes' leadership. Amongst other points, teachers and staff who have deaf children were threatened, personally and professionally, for not enrolling their children at Kendall or MSSD. The letter can be seen here. A former head's letter.

7. Regular votes of no confidence have been shown against Jane Fernandes

There was a vote of no confidence by the Gallaudet faculty, in spring 2006. Nothing was done about this.

There was a vote of no confidence, again by the Gallaudet faculty, in October 2006. Of all the faculty staff, 138 staff wanted Fernandes out, and only 26 voted for her to stay.

8. It is vital that there is Unity For Gallaudet!

Without unity, the university will lose its support of people and in turn reputation. You cannot lead if the majority do not want you there; when there have been votes of no confidence in your leadership, and when you refer to peacefully protesting citizens as "terrorists", and do so in a RADIO interview.

9. Prominent people and academics are growing in their calls for Fernandes to resign

Open letters of concern have come from prominent people, professionals ranging from a former headmaster, attorneys, clergy, professors, Presidents of deaf associations, etc, in the deaf community, all calling for resignation. Fifty other tent cities have been set up in support of the protestors and calling on Fernandes to give up her designated election.

10. A bad track record

The leaders of the previous mass protest at Gallaudet in 1988 wrote: "The campus community has already experienced her arrogant, vindictive, autocratic, and retaliatory style of leadership...Dr. Fernandes has earned few admirers on campus which has led to concerns from students, staff, and alumni as well as financial contributors to the university."

For those interested in reading more, please read the "Must Read" page on the official protest blog

Comments (2)

"134 students were arrested in Washington D.C., at Gallaudet University, the only Deaf university in the world, on 13th October 2006. This was the biggest mass arrest of anyone in Washington D.C. since the 1960s."

It is not true. I work in D.C. for 10 yrs and Metro Police is very experienced with mass arrests for years. There is always mass arrests in the Mall each year. We get about 20+ protests in the Mall annually.

134+ arrests at the same time, for the same cause. Please give us some examples, with figures.

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