Saturday, October 14, 2006

Gallaudet--On The Outside, Looking In

A fellow writer from Epinions recently sent me an email asking "Do you know why the students oppose the new president so fiercely?"

I was in a hurry and quickly replied, "Protesters don't like Jane-- they say she can't lead, that she's cold and that she's "not deaf enough"(even when it is denied, this comes up). They're also saying that the search process was flawed and racist (many felt that a person of color should have been one of the finalists) and that Jane was hand-picked by the current president."

In a nutshell, that's what I've gathered from a couple of months of reading blogs.

In 1988, the protest back then was about selecting a president who had one thing in common with the students, faculty and alumni: the absense of hearing in the normal range. When Jordan was selected, it seemed that many gathered together to celebrate and a sense of unity developed from the "Deaf President Now" movement. As a result of that movement, many deaf and hard of hearing students from all over decided to enroll in Gallaudet and some of them were students who would have never considered Gallaudet before the protest.

Many people like my friend from Epinions are expressing confusion at the selection of the first female president who has an impressive resume and happens to have a hearing loss. Mike McConnell recently posted Not Deaf Enough--What The World Sees on his blog and his post echoes the feedback that I'm getting from others on the outside.

One of the major differences between the two protests is that anyone off the streets has the ability to blog and post things on websites. The internet is now one huge information source, including vast amounts of gossip and postings that amount to slander. It is difficult to sort through factual information and the stuff that should appear in National Enquirer instead.

What started off as a complaint about a flawed search process has turned into a protest that has a list of issues that are popping up all over and it all has me wondering-- is Gallaudet going to be a place that my three deaf and hard of hearing kids are going to consider? Will Gallaudet be a place of diversity that embraces every deaf and hard of hearing student that wants to attend there?

We'll have to wait and see.

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