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Gallaudet Students Protest New President

 
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 04:26 pm
Thomas wrote:
Is there a public statement by the people who appointed her, specifically outlining what they think her merits are? Or is it all 'we made our decision, now suck it up?'


This seems to be it:

http://pr.gallaudet.edu/presidentialsearch/?ID=8682
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 04:27 pm
Ha! Funny you mention that Set, cause you just stopped me from going back to edit my post to add another tidbit from those comments (I didnt want to add yet another post) ... another ABF (Anyone But Fernandes ;-)) poster, who proclaimed that either of the other two candidates would make for "a great role model and will be a good iconic figure".

Not a word about actual qualifications for the actual tasks a president would need to tackle in his/her daily work, but "a great role model and a good iconic figure".

I guess, then, thats what Americans and Gallaudeters, respectively, turn out to want in a president ... a figurehead. A sympathetic, easy-going, charismatic figurehead.

Well, like you say, if Bush could do it... err...
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 04:29 pm
Sunny uplands of freedom and democracy, Habibi . . . the shining city on the hill . . . that, uh, leaderhip thing . . . uhm, vicotry in Iraq, i guarantee it.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 04:39 pm
nimh wrote:
This is fascinating ... cause it's about things that are so much more general, more deep-going, than just the incividual case -- indulge me while I go off on some tangent digression below, 'k? (Sorry)


No need to apologize, it was all very interesting and insightful.

I liked your musings about the universality of "leave my community alone!"

There are so many subtexts here, it's hard to get them all, I'll just keep adding as they occur to me. One big thing here is that the actual culturally Deaf community is a small fraction of the larger deaf (small "d") + hard of hearing community. Although, even just calling them both communities is controversial. There is a lot of resentment right now from the "hearing loss community" (deaf/ hoh) about the disproportionate amount of attention and, they claim, resources that the small culturally Deaf community gets. I recently (about a year ago?) got in some major arguments with a guy who is spearheading that, as I think he gets a lot of things wrong, but it's something that's happening.

I don't know what "steered ASL to the curb" means. Adam Stone's blog that I linked to seems to indicate she believes in ASL. I know that one sore spot for Gallaudet (which, if you haven't gathered, has a lot of problems) is that not even all of their professors sign. Some of them have interpreters, which is notably a much more difficult way to learn (via ASL interpreter vs. via original source). "Audism mandates" keep coming up, I haven't fully investigated those yet.

But basically, while I think there can and should be inclusiveness, I do think that an ASL immersion atmosphere is important.

I went to see Dr. Jordan speak a little while ago, and he gave a very moving comparison of going out for brunch at Gallaudet and going to brunch that morning here in Columbus. At Gallaudet, the little campus place he chose was staffed entirely by people who signed, and everyone there signed -- he had lots of friendly conversations with people as he had his meal. (He says "hi." But I digress.) At Columbus, at the little campus eatery he went to, he simply couldn't understand something the waiter was saying, and a pen and paper had to be searched, and he felt awkward and uncomfortable, and acutely aware of his "disability" -- which doesn't exist at Gallaudet. Communication is simply not an issue.

That has to be retained, I think, though I also think it can be done by having assistive technology (real time captioning etc.) and allowing more deaf/ hoh people -- who may well LEARN to sign while they're there.

But I understand the concerns about taking that ease of communication away, it's something so precious from both a social and educational standpoint. I think it therefore is part of but goes beyond the more general community aspects you mention.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 05:38 pm
Thank you, interesting. Yes, I can see how there are very real advantages to being in an all-Deaf environment, that are simply necessary in an otherwise Different world, and would truly be a loss if the university became 'too' inclusive.

Hmmm. Difficult! (Glad its not my problem ;-)).

Then again, I mean, its easy to feel understanding for the feelings of older white people in, say, London's Eastend (or The Hague's Schilderswijk), who saw their whole community disintegrate with all the newcomers, too - there are very real advantages to being in an all-Dutch-speaking environment, if you're Dutch, as well ;-).

But yeah, they always still had most other parts of the country, where, although there werent (working-class) people like them, at least everyone spoke Dutch -- whereas for these Deaf people, the whole world is already Different, so all the more passionate they'd be about at least keeping this place purely theirs. That makes sense.

More akin to keeping New Orleans a "chocolate city", then?

Talking about that - question. Twice now I've seen references to white people vs. people of colour somehow also linking in to the oppositions at/over Gallaudet. How's that work, do you know that?

Other question. I sometimes take on a (fake) colloquial English here, but some of the people posting on that blog - apparently Gallaudet students and alumni - their English seems to simply be pretty bad. I suppose thats because English is sort of a second language for them? Kind of like how Dutch is a second language to Moroccan immigrant(s') kids? Still, it's university they're in; and the Moroccans who get to university in Holland don't make such mistakes anymore, let alone so many.

Is learning English for a deaf person much harder than for a non-native, but hearing speaker?
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 06:04 pm
nimh wrote:
More akin to keeping New Orleans a "chocolate city", then?


The Howard University analogy I made earlier sort of works, I think -- it's now zero (ZERO!) percent Caucasian, and I think a lot of people would feel a loss if it became say 50% Caucasian. But even then, there are other universities that black people can go to where there is a critical mass, while very few such choices (and really only one other choice in terms of the surrounding community) for Deaf people.

The low number of the total population and the importance of communication make Deaf people a really unique group that way.

Quote:
Talking about that - question. Twice now I've seen references to white people vs. people of colour somehow also linking in to the oppositions at/over Gallaudet. How's that work, do you know that?


That's kind of confusing me, too. There are sub-groups within the Deaf community like within the more general hearing culture -- Black Deaf Advocates, etc. I think this might be one of the laundry list of grievances -- the attempt to justify the generalized "this stinks" attitude -- rather than having any real meat to it.

I found this:

Quote:
Some have asked why the Gallaudet Affirmative Action officer did not participate in or witness committee and Board deliberations. It is our experience that such officers generally do not participate in search deliberations unless named to the committee in a representative capacity, which was not the case here.

As you know, Academic Search Consultation Service was hired by Gallaudet University because of our expertise in searches for higher education presidencies. We have been in business for 30 years, and in that time have conducted 580 presidential searches for institutions throughout the country including co-educational colleges and universities and seminaries, and historically black, Hispanic-serving, and women's colleges. We are confident that the Presidential Search Committee at Gallaudet followed both the law and the best practices for recruitment and hiring of a new president.


http://www.xanga.com/elisa_abenchuchan

(More interesting stuff on her blog.)

Quote:
Other question. I sometimes take on a (fake) colloquial English here, but some of the people posting on that blog - apparently Gallaudet students and alumni - their English seems to simply be pretty bad. I suppose thats because English is sort of a second language for them? Kind of like how Dutch is a second language to Moroccan immigrant(s') kids? Still, it's university they're in; and the Moroccans who get to university in Holland don't make such mistakes anymore, let alone so many.

Is learning English for a deaf person much harder than for a non-native, but hearing speaker?


Oof. Tough question to answer. Or, I got my master's degree studying that question. ;-)

Shortish answer:

Language pathways are forged when people are quite young. The cut-off isn't as definite as had long been thought, but the bulk of it still does in fact happen (ugh, forget exact age, 6 is what I'll say but I won't swear to it). These pathways need to be forged to achieve fluency in ANY language. As in, if someone is fluent in Moroccan, he or she has the language pathways that are necessary to learn a second language, and become fluent in that language.

However, lots of deaf kids are not able to achieve fluency in ANY language in the critical period. While universal infant hearing screening is changing this somewhat (not as definitively as hoped), a very common scenario has been that parents don't realize a child is deaf until he or she fails to start talking. Then tests are done, then various types of medical intervention is discussed, and then maybe -- at say 3 or 4 -- a child starts to be exposed to ASL. Starts. A whole lot of hugely important language acquisition time has already passed.

Even then, the parents probably are not fluent in ASL themselves (90% of deaf kids have hearing parents), and even if ASL exposure starts, it's limited.

That's if ASL exposure starts at all. Often parents will put their kids in oral schools, put cochlear impants in them, etc., in an attempt to make them as "hearing" as possible. Sometimes this works. Often it doesn't. And when it doesn't, you have a child who has never developed the critical language pathways, and will never become truly fluent/ proficient in ANY language.

Meanwhile, deaf children who have Deaf parents and are exposed to ASL from birth are often able to learn English and become fluent in it, more parallel to how Moroccans would learn Dutch.
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 06:09 pm
Just wanted to say that I'm still here, reading along. This topic is quite rich.
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yitwail
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 06:10 pm
sozobe, in stephen king's <the stand> one of the main characters is deaf, i presume congenitally, and someone remarks about how smart he is to have learned how to read. is mastery of alphabetic reading difficult for a person deaf from birth because the letters represent sounds?
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 06:58 pm
Wow, all very interesting!

Sucks having to summarise your thesis in three paragraphs, huh? ;-) You do it well tho!

sozobe wrote:
a very common scenario has been that parents don't realize a child is deaf until he or she fails to start talking.

Wow, that kind of fazes me. That one could not tell. I mean, wouldnt you notice at some earlier point that your baby doesnt react to things you say or sounds you make? I remember how my nephew would laugh when I went ooh-ooh-ooh at him, whenever I made that sound..

(Well, they'll probably react to the face you're making while you say things or make sounds, as well..)

Trip out.
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 07:09 pm
That surprises me a bit too. My son has had issues with hard wax in his ears and when he was a baby he would have periods temporary of hearing loss. I always knew right away because he wouldn't turn his head when I called or wouldn't respond to loud sounds behind him. But maybe it was only obvious to me because I knew what his "normal" behavior was and so noticed that something was different. If he couldn't hear from birth, I'm not sure I'd know anything was wrong. I might just think that was normal for him.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 07:13 pm
yitwail wrote:
sozobe, in stephen king's <the stand> one of the main characters is deaf, i presume congenitally, and someone remarks about how smart he is to have learned how to read. is mastery of alphabetic reading difficult for a person deaf from birth because the letters represent sounds?


Another biggie! :-) THE biggie in Deaf Education (which is the field in which I received my master's degree.) (An aside to nimh re: the language question, have you noticed my own language has gotten awkward as I talk about this? I start thinking in ASL as I think about these things -- I think of things people said, and they said it in ASL, and think of presentations I gave, and the presentations were in ASL, and my own English gets wobbly. That's separate from the language pathway thing, it's more a second-language thing, which I'm sure you're familiar with.) (The language within paragraphs was itself really awkward, I went back and fixed it some of it, maybe should've left it for illustrative purposes.)

Anyway, there are lots of innovative ways to teach deaf kids how to read -- one way I like a lot is to have some sort of large display (like an overhead) that has each sentence in a different color, and then signing each sentence at time. There have been cool attempts to make graphic representations of ASL that can be a bridge between ASL and English. It's still an open question and a major challenge, though.

nimh, I know, it's amazing to think that people wouldn't know... but it happens all the time. The main thing is what you already noted, that there are so many other cues that a baby responds to beyond just sound. I can tell Deaf babies by their eyes -- they have this extra awareness, extra focus.

People usually begin to suspect as the baby fails to start talking, then give it time, then give it more time, and then finally have the tests. It all takes a long time... precious time.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 07:19 pm
Let me add that while it happens a lot, even if it doesn't happen -- even if the deafness is discovered right away -- that still doesn't translate into a rich, accessible language environment that often. The main problem there is the stat I already cited about 90% of deaf children being born to hearing parents.

Even if the parents find out that their child is deaf pretty much immediately, then what? Best-case scenario, they instantly start learning ASL -- and take 2-3 years to become completely fluent. (I took about 5 years to reach complete fluency, it's a tough language.) And it needs to be complete fluency to be truly useful -- individual signs without the complicated grammar and syntax and all the rest of it are as useful as caveman-speak to a hearing child. ("That tree. That grass. Grass green.")

And it's much more often a scenario where the parents learn of the child's deafness from a doctor (of course) and then spend a lot of time on a medical-oriented approach, where ASL is not part of the picture at all.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 07:21 pm
(paragraphs = parentheses in the post before last, oof, was illustrative after all I guess ;-))
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mac11
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 07:56 pm
This is a fascinating thread. Thanks for starting it, soz. I see I have a lot of reading to do.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 08:12 pm
Since I know little to nothing of the issues or concerns of those without hearing can I ask what "not deaf enough" means? Are the students accepted for admission tested to see if they are "deaf enough" to attend??? What qualifies one as "deaf enough"?
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 08:41 pm
I'm pleased to say that I said that before anyone else in the coverage that I've seen -- since then, it's come up a lot.

In this context, "Deaf enough" means adequately respectful of, familiar with, and comfortable with Deaf culture. The idea is not so much that students need to be Deaf enough but that the leader of the only Deaf university in the world is sort of, by default, the Deaf world's leader -- and should therefore be someone representative of Deaf culture. (All those cap D's denote Deafness as a culture rather than as a lack of hearing.)

I think there is some merit to that. If the choices were between someone who was a skilled administrator and also very much part of Deaf culture, and someone who was a skilled administrator but uncomfortable with ASL and (that sign I mentioned earlier, "thinks like a hearing person"), I'd assume that the first person would be chosen. And I would support that decision.

However, all things are not equal here, and it looks like there wasn't anyone else who approached her administrative experience and capabilities.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 08:50 pm
Oh man, the chair of the board has resigned!

And the person I know is the vice chair...!

Oh dear.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 May, 2006 08:42 am
The news about the chair stepping down:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/10/AR2006051000399.html
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 May, 2006 10:28 am
nimh wrote:
Its the John Kerry thing ... we dont care how much you know or how good you are, if we dont like you we dont want you as our president.

The difference is that America is a democracy whose presidents serve at the pleasure of the voters, while universities are corporations whose presidents serve at the pleasure of the owners, represented by their trustees. This whole notion that students get to veto the trustees' choice of president is just hooey. I'm a libertarian alright, but I strongly suggest that someone straighten out those renitent little punks. (Full disclosure: the author of this post does not plan to preside over a university anytime soon.)
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 May, 2006 03:07 pm


Threats of personal attacks seem extremely excessive in this sort of thing. Very interesting...
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