It was a weird and surreal experience. I had a feeling of deja vu, but even that felt wrong. CM baldwin did a wonderful job building up the excitment for the announcement and said the decision was unanomious, but the name she announced just felt very wrong.
The minute she said, "Dr. Jane Fernandes!" about 10 students immediately got up and walked out. When Dr. Fernandes walked in, a few more people walked out. Nobody clapped. Nobody cheered.
I craned my neck to look at my students who were sitting behind me to gauge their reaction. They were stunned. Nearly everybody in the room looked stunned.
When Dr. Fernandes started signing, she was tight-lipped and talked in a monotone. Immediately after she began, Ryan Commerson, a graduate student who staged a hunger strike at Michigan School, walked up front and said, "if you don't agree with the choice, leave!"
A few more people did indeed leave. When he walked up the aisle, h e was arrested and carted off the campus.
As Dr. Fernandes spoke, small clusters of people got up and left, a few at a time. I tried to focus on what she was saying, but all I was able to see was the terror in her eyes. She kept her face absolutely rigid. Her speech was really dreadful, because nothing sank in. She captured very few people's attention, and people kept on either looking around or getting up to leave.
Fortunately, I saw Adam Stone furiously taking notes, so he is bound to give a good summary of what was said in Dr. Fernandes' speech on deafdc.com. When Dr. Fernandes finished her speech, the remaining audience (which was about 1/3 of what it was at the start) gave her a very half-hearted applause. The tense smile on Dr. Fernandes' face disappeared quickly and she made a beeline to the door stage left. No waving to the audience. It looked like she had dogs at her heels.
It was horrible. The security in the room was very thick, which showed t hey knew they would not receive a warm reception. It was just a very sad shame - it was supposed to be a moment of celebration, not anger.
Professors and staff I spoke to were so dispirited by the announcement. However, they kept on looking around to make sure nobody could see what their comments - certainly not an environment for free-thinking and protected dissent.
As I walked out, many continued to look dazed. I was cutting it very
close, as I had a 3:30 class at George Washington University - and it
was already 2:50. When I got to the mall, I was astounded (but maybe I
shouldn't have been surprised) to see a huge crowd gathered there. I
later learned there was a fire alarm at sau, so it forced everybody out
of the building.
Three students (Noah, the new SBG president, Robert McConnell - one of my students, and a much older man) were on a podium, calling out for a representative for the graduate students and a female student leader , eventually hollering for Tara Holcomb. I saw Bren walking around the fringe of the crowd and disappearing into sau.
Someone (I think Tawny Holmes, the SBG prez from 2004 2005) urged the
students on the podium to send the students to the front gates to stage a sit-in. Everyone moved there. One of my students drove his SUV to the gate and blocked it. Tawny popped her head through the SUV's sun roof and started leading students to chant "better president now" I had to start laughing... Deja vu, but not so deja vu. Present SBG and GSA leaders met while Tawny continued to whip up the crowds. They were trying to figure out their message. When they agreed, Noah got up on the front gate post and asked the crowd if they agreed with the decision. A sea of hands in air, No! Anthony Mowl, last year's Buff and Blue editor, told the crowd that the message must
I looked at time and gasped - 3:15!! I was late to my class and I was
scheduled to give a presentation! When I looked up, I saw David King and other BDSU and ASA leaders weave their way to the front, and I knew I had to stick around for at least a few more minutes.
There was a heated exchange between these students and Dana Sipek and a
friend of hers whom I didn't recognize. I didn't catch what was being said, and it was decided to give them some platform time. In the meantime, handlettered and painted signs popped out of nowhere. A student used a marker to write 'better president now!" on his plain white tshirt.
I really had to get to GWU, as it was now 3:30. As I was walking off the campus, I passed one of my students and he was signing to his friend, "exams must be cancelled!" I told him, "Oh no! Exams will stil be on!" He looked at me with murderous eyes
The last I heard, was that the rally ran out of steam, and student leaders are meeting now trying to figure out their next steps.
Ps. I know this is lengthy, but I wanted to capture everything that's still in my memory, and I thought you would be my audience