Nothing About Us Without Us

Tom Willard has been an editor covering Deaf news as long as I've been at this Rag business -- decades now. He's now got Deaf Weekly but years ago I remember the old Silent News and Newswaves, too. His A Few Ideas to End the Stalemate at Gallaudet make for interesting reading. Most people, I think, don't really understand about Gallaudet, that it's really a cultural mecca as much as a standard university. Probably moreso.

Some snips from Tom's ideas:

The protest can be boiled down to a single issue. People want self-determination. . . .

A big part of the problem is an out-of-touch Board of Trustees that seems to have no interest in interacting with the college community. They simply fly in to Washington and sign whatever papers are put in front of them. This group has demonstrated that it cannot be trusted with such an important decision as to who shall lead Gallaudet.

It must be very disheartening to be a Gallaudet student or staff or faculty or alumni, and be told to accept a leader that you don’t want, especially when you spent months making it clear that you didn’t want this person as your leader and everything you said and did was completely ignored. . .

Tom thinks a committee made up of board, faculty and students should select a president.

Gallaudet is unlike any other university where the presidents can hop around from school to school and refresh themselves and their communities. A Gallaudet president chosen in his or her 40s could conceivably be at the helm for 30 years . . .

Jane Fernandes [should] show true leadership and step down as president-elect and allow the search process to reopen . . .

Opinions, of course, are a dime a dozen and they're swirling around everywhere during the current crisis at Gallaudet. But I think Tom is right: it does all boil down to "self-determination." Opinions like the unfortunately out-of-touch one expressed yesterday by the Washington Post editorial board --just a little too reminiscent of the Establishment's putdown of the Free Speech movement back in the day -- show little understanding of that.

October 12, 2006 | Email this story

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