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Gallaudet Students Protest New President

 
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Oct, 2006 10:24 am
Yeah, I should've said that earlier, as it's important. Saying "her ASL" is misleading since the point is that she's not really speaking ASL.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Oct, 2006 08:06 pm
OK, I found that video I was thinking of:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLs0gaSQvqk

I'm not sure how illustrative it will be, nor if it is voice interpreted. It it's not voice interpreted, let me know and I'll give a flavor.

The interviewer guy is a very skilled signer -- watch what he does with his face and body as compared to Fernandes. He may appear aggressive/ overwrought, but really, that's the language. He's getting in all kinds of important grammatical info.

At 3:01 in the video, Fernandes says, "I'm here..." She doesn't use any grammar in particular in saying so, and it comes across as a beginning of a sentence, a fragment, that something else will follow soon. The guy reacts that way, waiting for more. She doesn't say any more. He gives a "are you going to say more?/ that doesn't make sense" head bob/ brow furrow, and then she pedantically follows up in this "don't you get it..." way when it was very much her error, linguistically.

The CONTENT of what she's saying is shockingly... naive, also. The fact that Signed English is not a true language is Deaf Culture 101. She's trying to say that people can combine ASL and English. (Simcom, talking and signing at the same time.) The guy is saying well yes people can be skilled in WRITING and READING and even SPEAKING English, and then also be skilled in ASL, but that's different from trying to speak both at the same time. That bastardizes both languages. She keeps saying it can be done and she's doing it, without reacting to his point in any substantial way.

Not impressive.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Oct, 2006 08:32 pm
Very interesting. I haven't known anyone who signs, so this is all new to me.

But I see what you are saying, Soz.

I have two slight intimations, not entirely apropo..


One is that I watched a video of Orhan Pamuk speaking in (excellent) English recently, and saw that he has a, uhm, flexable mouth. I don't know if that is particular to him or all who speak Turkish as a native language.
Another reaction I had was to think, as I was watching the YouTube video, of two women I've known at different times, one reminding me of the other, very controlling by the nature of their precisely thought out speech and tightly paced verbiage... in spoken english - always within an envelope of imposed calm. This tends to shut off expressiveness.

Not that Fernandes looks all that tight by herself to a no nothing like me, but in contrast to the fellow she does.

I understand you're saying not just that she lacks expressivity, but that she lacks grammar. And get that she doesn't get that.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Oct, 2006 08:51 am
Yep.

So, since the person I know is the chair of the board of trustees and lives in Columbus, she's now being targeted. There was an attempted sit-in in front of her office this morning, advertised ahead of time (she's surely on the email list that announced it would happen) and dispersed by police when it did happen.

Separately, there are local protests being scheduled, solidarity-type things. I may go just to check things out firsthand.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Oct, 2006 06:09 pm
Do, do!

Let us know.. this is interesting stuff.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Oct, 2006 06:42 pm
Hmm.. Check the post by kalboy16 in the comments section.

I tried quoting your take (as that of an anonymous fellow poster) in three parts as a way to put an alternative to his sole view out there. But although after each post it said, "Thank you, your comment has been posted", only the first part shows up if I reload the page. Which makes it look pretty silly. Sorry about that.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Oct, 2006 06:27 pm
Hoo boy:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061029/ap_on_re_us/gallaudet_president

Quote:
WASHINGTON - The board of trustees of the nation's premier school for the deaf voted Sunday to terminate the appointment of the incoming president, who had been the subject of protests, the board announced.

The vote at Gallaudet University came after a daylong closed-door meeting that followed a month of protests by students and faculty members. Jane Fernandes, the school's former provost, had been selected in May to take office in January.

"Although undoubtedly there will be some members of the community who have differing views on the meaning of this decision, we believe that it is a necessity at this point," the board said in a written statement.

"It has certainly been a difficult and trying time for our Gallaudet community," the statement said. "Now is the time for healing."


Mixed feelings now as with the whole entire thing. Obviously stuff was bungled all the way along for things to get as bad as they did. I still am unimpressed with the protestor's rhetoric, especially when it contradicts itself. ("It's not that she's not Deaf enough and it shows that she's unable to lead when she says so/ oh and by the way she's not Deaf enough.")

I dislike the aspect of capitulation but I'm not sure if there was any other way towards resolution at this point. Hope this actually DOES point towards resolution, and not just make things even more anarchic.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Oct, 2006 07:22 pm
ossobuco wrote:
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...


I still wonder about this, re universities in general and student power. Yes, I could google. You all are close to University days than I am.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Oct, 2006 07:31 pm
I think student power is really rare, in terms of selecting a president.

And basically I think that is as it should be.

Jordan has used interpreters, and that's been fine (so far as I know) up until last spring. Not great, but acceptable.

Part of it is definitely that students want to feel that they can chat with and connect with their president; part of it is the whole "Deaf Ambassador" thing. It's something else I have distinctly mixed feelings about. I get it, Gallaudet is a Deaf Mecca, the president has a unique place in Deaf culture, righto. I've said throughout that if someone can do that AND be an excellent administrator, great! Maybe Ron Stern can be that person when he gets his Ph.D in a scarce month or so, I dunno.

It does seem a little tacked-on, though, outside of the actual written job description (eek, can Fernandes sue under the ADA? now that would be interesting Shocked).

I totally totally get the desire to have a "real" Deaf president, I just think there are all kinds of implications there that haven't really been examined or owned by the protestors as a whole.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Oct, 2006 07:52 pm
Well, back in the lab at the uni I went to and worked at later, our dishwasher/helper was high premed, high meaning a fellow of good grades, and part of the then student government schemata. He became, said by him, the only non marxist... in the then tight student fight.


I was for whatever of his beefs I heard... but I was and am still for keeping universities open.



Signing in as a lab worker who came in and changed the dialysis systems while Reagan shut the place down. (That is, changed the water.)
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Oct, 2006 09:18 am
Good Op-Ed from Leah Hager Cohen:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/31/opinion/31cohen.html

She provides information about the search process that I haven't seen elsewhere, and have long been curious about. The Gallaudet protestations about how and why it was fair seemed accurate to me, so I'm still a tiny bit suspicious of the way she lays it out. If that's true, though, that makes a lot of sense.

I still think denial of "not deaf enough" is self-defeating -- it can easily be done within the context of all the rest of the valid complaints.

I wonder who the "highly qualified" people who were left out were? That's something I'd love to judge for myself. I can easily see how various stars of the Deaf community would be too controversial, too this, too that. Because that's really the center of it for me. If Fernandes was the best qualified of the finalists, she was the best qualified of the finalists, period. If the process was somehow manipulated to ensure that she was the best qualified of the finalists, that's something else.
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mac11
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Oct, 2006 01:25 pm
Thanks for the link, soz. It's an excellent piece. (Nice little stab at the Bush adminstration at the end, as well.)
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Nov, 2006 09:02 pm
So I finally got to talk to a person I'd really wanted to talk to about this. She's a Gallaudet graduate, super-sharp, super-connected. It was also great to talk to her because she was really balanced about it. She said things like "So JKF is not good at socializing, fine, but a big part of her role is to get the Federal dollars." She agreed with me that there are different roles within the University -- the fact that she wasn't good at the Provost position (and that does seem to be established) doesn't necessarily have that much to do with whether she would be good at being President. And more specifically, that the job requires skills that she has and doesn't necessarily require skills that she doesn't have.

I got more information that definitely falls in line with her being more socially adept with hearing people than Deaf. There was a student murdered at Gallaudet a couple of years ago, huge deal at the time. The parents of the student (who are hearing... I think, though actually I'm not certain) rhapsodized about JKF, how wonderful and supportive she was. Meanwhile the RA was evidently having a really hard time -- something about feeling responsible for what happened, not sure of details -- and complained that JKF wasn't there for him at all, that he felt abandoned by her, etc. She said this as an example of the many conflicting stories she's gotten, winding up with a sign that's, geez, hard to translate. Something like "tornado" I guess, with a connotation of all kinds of stuff going around and a general mess.

I asked her the question of, did the Board of Trustees choose the best qualified person or not? She was circumspect on this one, relaying what other people have said to her but not giving her own opinion (which is what I wanted). But "people say" that Gary Anderson (I think, fingerspelling was fast and I haven't come across this name before) is a better combination of skills and experience... and is African-American. Evidently that's where the racism stuff comes from, that there is a contingent that thinks he was passed over because he's black.

She agreed with me about the circularity of the "not Deaf enough" stuff -- that yes, it is about not Deaf enough and people have said so, so JKF can't be blamed for pointing to what they actually said. When I argued that there might be a valid reason to have a culturally Deaf president and that maybe the protestors should have owned the "not Deaf enough" thing rather than denying it, she demurred, and said, more strongly than she'd said anything else, "it comes down to leadership." That seemed to be the most from her rather than just filling me in -- that she thinks JKF just doesn't have what it takes to be an effective leader.

So, of course that's moot by now, but was very interesting. She doesn't see a clearly positive outcome, and we agreed that watching the whole thing was distressing.

Sigh.

She also talked about Jordan's reduced influence/ tarnished legacy, this was again in "people say" mode and I wanted to get more out of her, we went off on another tangent though and I forgot to come back to it.

Hope things go in a better direction from here.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Nov, 2006 09:08 pm
Just researched, seems to be Glenn Anderson, and he wasn't a finalist.

Quote:


http://www.examiner.com/a-101429~Gallaudet_president_select_answers_her_critics.html

So that's back to the whole thing being manipulated, which I agree totally sucks if that what happened. The person I talked to brought up Anderson as someone who was most qualified, and I take that seriously. So that seems to support the idea in the above paragraph.

Sigh again.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Nov, 2006 09:15 pm
Listening, thanks for the updates/
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Jan, 2007 11:55 am
Excellent (and very sad) article:

Jordan Leaves Gallaudet With Painful Goodbye

And forgot to update that Davila has been named as interim president. He has a tough job to do, hope he can do it.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Jan, 2007 08:02 pm
Quote:
Deafness and the Riddle of Identity

By LENNARD J. DAVIS

The recent demonstrations at Gallaudet University did more to launch deafness and deaf culture onto the national scene than any event since the release of the 1986 film Children of a Lesser God. Media reports of hour-by-hour dramas unfolding on the campus, culminating in a shutdown of the university, evoked in many people's minds the student revolution of the 60s. But in the hearing world, from blogosphere to op-ed page, observers expressed confusion about what the issues really were and why there was so much turmoil and anger over the mere choosing of an upper-level administrator.

That administrator, Jane K. Fernandes, selected to be president, was quoted widely as saying that one of the reasons she was such a lightning rod for criticism was that deaf students and faculty members perceived her as "not deaf enough." That charge was quickly rebutted by many within the deaf community, who said that their opposition to Fernandes was based not on her degree of deafness but on her leadership style, decisions she had made in the past, irregularities in the selection process, and her inability to quell the agitation at Gallaudet.

But the "not deaf enough" issue is alive and well among deaf scholars, students, and activists. Even though Fernandes may have exaggerated that accusation to bolster her own position, and even though her detractors denied its relevance, the charge formed at least part of the subtext of students' anger and is a topic of debate within the deaf community. Now that passions have been spent and an interim president, Robert R. Davila, appointed, it might be useful to examine what deaf identity might be and how that identity fits in with current notions of other identities based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and so on. Even with all the recent hoopla about deaf issues, most people probably aren't paying a lot of attention to what goes on within the deaf community. But the discussions there can point the way to a new and better understanding of identity in our postmodern world.


<sniiiiiiiiip>

Quote:
I am arguing that defining the deaf or any other social group in terms of ethnicity, minority status, and nationhood (including "deaf world" and "deaf culture") is outdated, outmoded, imprecise, and strategically risky. We would be better off expanding our current notions of identity by being less Procrustean and more flexible. Rather than trying to force the foot into a glass slipper, why not make a variety of new shoes that actually fit?

In that scenario, for example, people who are "one generation thick" could find commonality. So people with disabilities, deaf people, gay people, and children of deaf adults could say: We represent one potential way out of the dead end of identity politics. We are social groups that are not defined solely by bodily characteristics, genetic qualities, or inherited traits. We are not defined by a single linguistic practice. We need not be defined in advance by an oppressor. We choose to unite ourselves for new purposes. We are not an ethnic or minority group, but something new and different, emerging from the smoke of identity politics and rising like a phoenix of the postmodern age.


The Chronicle of Higher Education

Lots to mull over in the snipped portion.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Jan, 2007 08:11 pm
Hmmm. He lost me quick with the "since 1986" reference (what about the Deaf President Now movement in 1989? That was huge -- I very much remember the extensive coverage and the impression it made on me as that very year I started to come to terms with the fact that I was no longer "hard of hearing," I was deaf...)

The rest of it seems misguided too. I'll read the whole article though, sounds interesting.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Jan, 2007 08:19 pm
OK, and quickly not impressed with the remainder:

Quote:
What does it mean to be "not deaf enough"? In Fernandes's case, the accusation meant that she was not a native signer of American Sign Language (ASL). Fernandes learned to sign later in life; she is best described as a user of Pidgin Signed English (PSE), a blend of English and ASL. So she cannot speak with the "accentless" signs that would read, to a native signer, as the most elegant ASL. In effect, she would be speaking sign language the way that Henry Kissinger, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or perhaps Borat speak English.


Um, no. Like, really no. Like, credibility-busting no. I learned ASL late in life (same age as her, actually) and can speak it 1,000 times better than she can. And I'm positively pitiful next to a whole bunch of other people who learned ASL late in life, including late-r.

Her signing SUCKS. I said that earlier, when I finally saw the Youtube videos of her. It's not a matter of accent, it's a matter of grammar. The Borat thing is fine -- he mangles English grammar, too -- but "SO she cannot speak with the 'accentless' signs..."??? Absolutely not. She could learn, like countless other people have, and the fact that she hasn't says something very negative about her.

Planned to do a blow-by-blow as I noticed things, need to step away right now, haven't read beyond that paragraph yet.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Jan, 2007 08:20 pm
Not in the mood this minute - my gorgonzola sauce is perking - but will read it.


sincerely,

ear twinger




(which reminds me, I'm just reading a zinging NYer...
one of these days I'll gather me'thoughts.)
0 Replies
 
 

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