Volume 4 Issue 10 - May 15, 2006

Students of world’s only university for the deaf protest appointment of new President

D.N.I.S. News Network - Students at Gallaudet University protested the appointment of the new President, with hundreds rallying at the front gate of the campus and demanding that the choice be reconsidered. Angry students said their objections to the choice of Jane K. Fernandes, the university provost who was named to succeed I. King Jordan, centre on racial diversity (all three finalists for the presidency were white); on a lack of openness in the selection process; and on complaints about Fernandes style and record as provost.

Since the selection of Fernandes on May 1, students have camped out in protest according to reports in Washington Post. Students said they did not like Fernandes' leadership style, the way the search was performed and the feeling that they have been ignored.

History seems to be repeating itself. Protests had swept I. King Jordan into the presidency of Gallaudet University in 1988. Even then protesters had marched to the board of trustees meeting, the Capitol and the White House, as students demanded, and got a deaf president. It was a turning point for the deaf community as school trustees were forced to abandon their first choice and anoint Jordan as the first deaf leader (in 124 years) of the worlds only university for the deaf. Now, as he prepares to step down, protest has once again erupted on campus.

Polls in the student paper registered little support for Fernandes, and nearly two-thirds of faculty members who responded to a poll said she was unacceptable. Some people were angry that despite that message, she was chosen by the board. Students made their demands: Reopen the search process, and promise no reprisals for protesters.

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