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Gallaudet Students Protest New President

 
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Oct, 2006 10:44 am
sozobe wrote:
Ugh, this is just so bad. Just got this via email:

Sorry you have to deal with this crap Soz. Here's hoping that somebody takes away the faculty's lollipops and spanks its members with them.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Oct, 2006 10:59 am
Well, I don't actually have to deal with it, which is nice. My friend/ acquaintance is smack dab in the middle of it all, don't envy her one bit. (And as I said at some point earlier she has her strengths but she is SO not the right person for this particular moment in history... sigh.)
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Oct, 2006 11:21 am
This is interesting:

http://www.deafdc.com/blog/guest-blogger/2006-10-16/a-few-ideas-to-end-the-stalemate/

I disagree with several aspects of it, but it's interesting.

It's really disheartening to me that Jordan has become the bad guy in all of this. He was seen as a hero as recently as when I went to see him speak last spring, and it sounds like he hasn't done anything so awful since. (He presided over a process that really seems to have been conducted appropriately, and then has been supporting the choice, urging calm, and trying to make the university function since then. I still don't know about the arrests -- it could've been a bad call, could've been perfectly reasonable. They were warned that arrests would be the outcome if they didn't leave, and they didn't leave.)
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Oct, 2006 11:46 am
I've been getting a lot of emails, won't keep posting the whole thing. This made me grimace, though, in a letter from the 4 student leaders of the 1988 DPN movement:

Quote:
Once again, the Deaf community as a collective body is being told our input doesn't matter and that our leaders don't care if we are being oppressed. We are being told, "We know what is best for you." This condescending and paternalistic attitude is hard to stomach in today's world where access, equality, and justice are expected.


The leaders in question are themselves DEAF!!!

Is there no room for any kind of authority at all in the Deaf world? Does a man who has been president of the university for 25 years really know nothing more about what is best for that university than a freshman student there?

If it's not that, what is it? That Jordan and Fernandes both function in the hearing world, are not fully fluent in ASL, and are not completely comfortable with Deaf cultural mores? What is that if not "not Deaf enough?"
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Oct, 2006 04:10 pm
I was reading a blog and it directed people to go to You Tube to see Fernandes in action -- hadn't thought of that, it's something I've really wanted to know (her ASL skills and general affect). This is short, but ooooh...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csHyOou2PCo

She's signing at the beginning, then the person she's talking to goes on for a bit, hard to see what she's saying as it's filmed from behind, then Fernandes started signing again. Her first sign is a big ol' "IF". The sign itself is out of date -- if you're gonna sign "if", that's not how you sign it. But more than that, "if" as a word has no place in ASL. It's pure Signed English. (In ASL, "if" is implied with ASL grammar -- hard to describe, can if anyone's interested but would take a while.)

That was definitely a cringe as soon as I saw that.

Still fits with my overall impression of the situation, but I can so see where there are problems and how they could snowball.

Dunno what the solution is. Problems on every side. Messy messy messy.

New take on it, trying it on for size but not sure what I think about it yet. DPN was about getting a deaf (small D) president. This is about getting a Deaf (big D) president.

I think there's a valid case to be made there if someone wants to make it, and that "not Deaf enough" is very much the center of it.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Oct, 2006 04:35 pm
This is what I have to look forward to as I get deafer.... I'll never be deaf enough.

Stepping back, I can see the administration would have more, ah, status with students and faculty if the member could sign in an up to date way.
Though everything being equal, couldn't they have 'translators' sign for them?

I've been trying to remember about student power in a regular university. There's some, but not - that I remember - that they got, say, to pick the Chancellor...
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Oct, 2006 04:43 pm
Late-deafened adults have their own community (getting stronger lately). "Not Deaf enough" is something I've dealt with and dislike heartily, but I think if there's anywhere it's a valid complaint it would be with the president of the only Deaf liberal arts college in the world.

If.

I'm plunging back into trying to write some kind of article after my latest idea, trying to figure out if it's a valid complaint. Excerpts of what I've written so far.

    One of the most disturbing things about reading the coverage of this is the scorn heaped upon I. King Jordan - now suddenly referred to as "Irving." Perhaps that's a way to help separate the man who is currently being mocked from the man who was a hero to the Deaf world for 25 years. I went to see him speak last spring, just before Jane Fernandes' selection as president of Gallaudet was announced, and he received a hero's welcome. People were lined up forever just to shake his hand and tell him how much they meant to him - I was one of them. He was gracious, friendly, and charismatic. During his speech he was self-deprecating about his ASL skills. Everyone chuckled indulgently, but there was a frisson of "why can't the president of the only Deaf liberal arts university in the world speak to us in our own language?" He had an interpreter who was very skilled and a joy to watch - but watching an interpreter is nearly always a less inspiring and more labor-intensive enterprise. When the choices were deaf or hearing, Dr. Jordan fit the bill. Now, people want to choose between deaf, Deaf, or hearing, and they want Deaf. **** Deaf Mecca - is this a viable model for a university? This sounds more like a way to get tourist dollars than to turn out knowledgeable and qualified adults, ready to make their way in the world (hearing, Deaf, or both). **** Too many things are going unsaid. The terms need to be clarified before any kind of agreement can be reached. The protestors and the larger community need to decide - what does it mean for Gallaudet to be a Deaf Mecca? What is required of a president? What if the president who can do all of the boring day-to-day administration best is not the one who is the best cultural ambassador? Or more than that - what if the person who can be the best cultural ambassador to hearing people is not the one who has the most solidarity with Deaf people? As we all know, the Deaf and the hearing worlds are very different. The person who is most beloved in the Deaf world may well leave hearing people cold. If Gallaudet becomes fully self-sufficient, that is irrelevant. And perhaps that self-sufficiency is a good goal. But now, as things stand, Gallaudet gets a great deal of support and resources from the hearing world. And the president needs to reach out to the hearing world even more than the Deaf one, so that Gallaudet can continue to exist, much less thrive. This is a central conflict in the Deaf world. We both claim that we are strong and capable and shouldn't be patronized, and that we are owed interpreters because we need them. Someday, everyone in America may become fluent in ASL. That would be a fine, fine day. But that day isn't anywhere close, and that reality needs to be dealt with. Except for self-sustaining communities like (Deaf town), the we Deaf people do not exist within a vacuum. ****


Mostly just free-associating for now, but I think this is an interesting idea (owning the "not deaf enough" thing and what it implies).
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Oct, 2006 04:55 pm
I was nodding along as I read it.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Oct, 2006 05:16 pm
Oof, more drama.

Jordan has canceled Homecoming weekend. "...due to the fact that Gallaudet University is not operating under normal circumstances, and the protesters continue to refuse to open all of the gates, we must postpone homecoming and all related activities."

Meanwhile, the Gallaudet Alumni president sent a follow-up:

Quote:
HOWEVER

October 17, 2006
4:00 p.m.

I. King Jordan announced at 3:25 p.m. today that his homecoming has been cancelled.

Excuse me, OUR homecoming continues. More information is forthcoming shortly.

We will take back Gallaudet.

Andrew Lange
President
Gallaudet University Alumni Association


(No links, all via email.)

OK, this could get really bad...
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Oct, 2006 05:27 pm
Quote:
are expected.


anytime I hear/see/read anything about expectations, I sense trouble

rights and responsibilities perhaps, but expectations? not so much

This could have been a really brilliant opportunity for positive change - perhaps still could be - but it feels like it's sliding away.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 02:51 pm
and today in the NYT -

Turmoil at College for Deaf Reflects Broader Debate
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 03:19 pm
oof

Quote:
One protester, Ronald Ferris, who is blind and deaf, said he believed that Dr. Fernandes did not connect with deaf people. In a measure of how personal the dispute has become, Mr. Ferris pointed to her choice of a husband as proof. "She doesn't really feel us," he signed through interpreters. "She's very critical of deaf culture, because she married somebody who hears."


interesting article, OssoB. Thanks for the link.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 03:43 pm
Some of it seems almost lame - not wrong, just that Soz has been filling us in so well - but that quote was helpful to understand part of the chasm in thinking.

I'm bemused/learning by it two ways, one for his quote re Fernanadez; two, trying to imagine how he learned to sign while blind, or if the blindness was later, or what.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Oct, 2006 08:54 pm
There's tactile signing -- I've been an interpreter for deaf/blind folks before (watch the on-stage terp, replicate into the hands of a deaf/blind person), it's tough but works. People I know have either learned from touch if they were born deaf, or learned visually and then shifted to touch if they have a degenerative disease.

Thanks so much for posting that article, Osso. E.G. had a big ol' post-it note on that article in our paper this morning. Lots of stuff I want to comment on but will probably have to do so tomorrow.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Oct, 2006 08:44 am
Taking "all politics is personal" (or was it the other way round?) to a whole new level... Confused
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Oct, 2006 09:47 am
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Oct, 2006 10:00 am
sozobe wrote:
Uh, sorry, her ASL sucks. It's incredibly bad, much worse than I expected. It's the sign language of a bad interpreter or a hearing loss professional -- an audiologist, speech pathologist, someone like that.

I'll see if I can explain... it's very closed, close to the body. Hands and arms are used and that's it. Her face mouths the words but is pretty much expressionless. ASL is about way more than that -- you gotta move. I remember when I was first learning ASL I found all that lunging and grimacing kind of gauche. I signed like her for a while -- it seemed more "nice," more palatable, more pretty. Hearing people like it better.

But it ain't the language.

I'm not sure I get this. Your description of her ASL sounds like a non-ideomatic accent -- like a president of a Howard University who speaks standard English, not Jive (with the difference that her ASL is a non-standard form). I can see how this harms the cultural connection, but not how it translates to "her ASL sucks". Could you give an example of a thought she cannot express in "her" ASL, but could get across in English or plain ASL?
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Oct, 2006 10:10 am
It's much worse than that because she's not using a language, she's using a sign system. ASL is a language, Signed English isn't.

So it's much more like the president of a (fictional) Spanish-Language university being fluent in English but speaking in Spanglish to his students. (I just looked it up to see if I could find a sample sentence, and it seems to have a lot of definitions -- I'll define it for these purposes as an unsophisticated mishmash of languages that native Spanish speakers wouldn't understand.)

It's much, much worse than an accent. An accent in ASL (which exists) is about making a handshape in a certain way, for example. She's just bypassing grammar entirely. When she thinks she's saying, "Are you complaining about that? This is the way I sign," she's saying (to native ASL speakers) something more like "complain? me sign this."
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Oct, 2006 10:13 am
Thomas wrote:
I'm not sure I get this. Your description of her ASL sounds like a non-ideomatic accent -- like a president of a Howard University who speaks standard English, not Jive (with the difference that her ASL is a non-standard form). I can see how this harms the cultural connection, but not how it translates to "her ASL sucks".

Thats not how I read it. Instead, Soz's description of the woman's ASL reminds me more of the way a Japanese student I was in summer school with spoke Hungarian. He had studied hard, and knew all the grammar. He knew all the words. His written Hungarian was fine. But his pronounciation was awful. It was very hard for Hungarians to understand what he was saying, they really had to strain to be able to halfway follow him. In short, despite his command of grammar and vocabulary, his Hungarian, well, sucked.

I can well imagine how this is an issue. Imagine someone standing for election for US President. He's an immigrant (OK, immigrants cant stand for US President, but roll with me here), and he knows the English grammar and vocabulary. But due to his bad command of pronounciation, when he talks in English Americans have to really strain to follow him. I dont think he'd stand a chance of being elected County Dogwatcher, let alone President - and if the Presidency had been an appointed office, there'd probably be a popular wave of protest against him.
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Oct, 2006 10:20 am
Thanks, Sozobe. "Signed English" was the keyword I needed.
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