Young activists make it happen

Students at Gallaudet University did an incredible job organizing to protest the board of director’s appointment of Jane K. Fernandes as president. The school of 1,800 students managed to shut down the campus for days, and organized a 2,000+ person arch on the Capitol. And in the end, they won. It’s a great example of young, passionate people making real change happen. As a graduate of a university with (ahem) presidential issues, I say bravo. Check out some fantastic photos on Flickr, by nonlinear.

Join the Conversation

  • Esme

    They burned the woman in effigy because she wasn’t deaf enough in their eyes to lead the school.
    I’m sorry, but protest is one thing. To burn someone in effigy is not a criticism of their leadership skills, it is a symbolic attack upon their person.

  • frabjabulous

    Ousting a woman because her leadership style is too harsh? Because she’s overcome too many odds to get to where she is? Yeah, real great victory.
    “But in her 11 years at Gallaudet, her no-nonsense style has often rubbed others the wrong way. Sometimes she has walked across campus so deep in thought that she has failed to recognize and greet friends.” If she was a man, she’d probably be called an eccentric… luckily she’s a woman, so she gets to be labeled “autocratic and unfeeling.”

  • Dan

    I don’t get it, either. The only objection to Fernandez that I can find is that she grew up around hearing kids and didn’t learn ASL until she was in her 20s. Oh, and that she “alienated” people at the university, only she did so in cryptically unspecified ways.
    I really hope there’s more to this story than what the papers are saying, because if not, the whole thing strikes me as just a little bit petty.

  • EG

    Well, anti-feminism in the academy is not as uncommon as we’d like to think. Talking about female professors and adminstrators as “abrasive” when a man would be “forthright,” etc. I mean, please, what academic hasn’t walked across campus lost in thought and not noticed a friend? Isn’t that a requirement of the profession?
    “Protesters have accused Fernandes of being heavy-handed, vindictive and aloof during her tenures as provost and head of Gallaudet’s elementary and high schools.”
    Hmm. Sounds like administrator material to me, honestly. No, really. I didn’t think these were atypical qualities in an administrator.

  • StephanieAnagnoson

    I keep thinking that I’m not getting the entire story here too. She seems like a quintessential administrator.

  • Jen

    The protests at Gallaudet are about the values of a school created to service those who are deaf and hard of hearing. Gallaudet has a long history of being a leader for the deaf community. The president is the head of that. Not being a member of this community, I don’t have a say in where it should be headed. But those students and alumni do. And they had it.
    There are a lot of issues of concern for the protestors, including lack of diversity on the selection pool, Fernandes’s philosophy of deaf culture, and her background as part of university leadership believed to be ineffectual and divisive. That’s the point. A community of people were sick and tired, and they did something about it. You can disagree with their methods, and some of the reasons, but don’t doubt the power of the outcome.
    If you want to learn more about what the protestors were trying to accomplish, check out what they say, you can visit Unity for Gallaudet’s website.

  • MissUnderestimated

    Yeah, I’m not feeling it. They never even let her take office – how can they say that she was a crappy leader when they didn’t give her the chance to lead? I’m glad that the board voted the way they did because now people can move on with their lives but the protesters kept other students from pursuing their education and that’s not right. It wouldn’t have made a difference if the administration had been open to the protesters demands – the protesters were intent on making sure Fernandes didn’t take office. Period. Are they going to march on the capitol if they get bad grades? Lock their bosses out of the office if they have to work overtime? They were being pretty unreasonable. It’s really unfortunate that it came to this.

  • Justin Kalm

    According to the story I heard on NPR, some of the protesters really became hoodlums, doing things like banging on Fernandes’s car when she tried to drive onto the campus. This seems to have been less an example of free speech working in a democracy, than it was an example of mob rule.