Monday, October 16, 2006

They Don't Need No Education

So I've been following the Gallaudet protests over the course of the last week or so. After having shut down the entire school -- the university as well as the elementary and middle school, and facilities for adults needing hearing tests -- for three days, the administration finally authorized arrests for the students who had effectively walled off the school.

Frankly, why these arrests were so long in coming is baffling to me. The students have taken over the school and held it hostage to a higher goal that they cannot even articulate. Having reviewed as much as I can about the school and about incoming president Jane K. Fernandez, I can figure out no coherent reason for these protests. She was standoffish as a provost? Boo fuckin' hoo. What do you want, a cookie? She has never been able to hear but only learned ASL at age 20? So what? She's not black? While this may be a concern, it certainly doesn't seem enough to shut down the school over.

And to put it mildly, who the fuck do these 20-something kids think they are? They pay tuition to get an education -- from what I can tell, a pretty damn good one -- not to make dictates and demands on who is in the administration. On any other college campus I know of the students don't have veto power over the selection of their president. These "demands" that an unpopular president resign are pretentious at best.

Compare what's happeneing at Gallaudet with recent events at Randolph-Macon (Women's) College. Historically an all-women's college, the school recently voted to admit men. Did the students shut down their own campus for days on end? Did they deny their fellow students the right to attend classes? No. They cried; they mourned. Some slept on the lawn in front of the Main Hall in protest. Some initiated paperwork to transfer. Some boycotted classes, but I see no indication that those people also forced other students to stay away from their classes. Protesting was a voluntary effort for those who passionately felt their school should have remained single-sex.

At Gallaudet, quite a different protest is taking place. Those who disagree with the appointment of Ms. Fernandez have appointed themselves masters of all that is right with the deaf community, though, again, they can't particularly articulate good reasons for their passionate dislike of her. And these kids have basically set up a situation where if you don't agree with them... well, you'll have to effectively be part of the protest anyway. They'll boycott your classes for you.

It's awful that these kids have taken over the campus; it also shows a distinct lack of backbone that the administration couldn't do anything to shut them down earlier than this. Is it really so easy to shut down Gallaudet's campus? Just walk into the main hall and "demand" that the grown-ups leave? And as for "letting" cars into campus: since when do the staff and administration of any school have to beg permission of the football team to go into their own offices?

From the day I started college through today, my college has had four presidents (I'm counting one interim president for about a year). One guy I recall being quite a controversial pick. One woman suffered from accusations of inferior qualifications -- indeed, I recall many felt that her selection was tokenism because there were more qualified men than her in the running. Her selection did not shut down the school. It caused some dissention, and while students voiced their concerns, in the end everyone went back to their classes and went on about the business of learning. What the hell is it about Gallaudet that education should come to a screeching halt because some students don't like the president?

A brief list of things Gallaudet students need to give themselves more credibility now:
(1) a coherent and solid reason Ms. Fernandez "must go." So far everything I've seen just doesn't cut it.
(2) much more reasonable "demands" with respect to the administration. "We will not stop unless she resigns" will only make both sides dig their heels in, especially since you really have no right to do anything you're doing anyway.
(3) a reason the school shouldn't just expel your asses since your "civil disobedience" is serving to screw up the very mission of the school: an education. If you want to pay tuition then not attend classes, that's your choice. But when others are paying tuition and would like to have professors lecture to them and you won't let them, you are a disruptive force and deserve to be kicked out.

On a lighter note: Wow, some of these Gally boys are hot. Check out the shirtless guys protesting earlier this week at this Express post. Okay, I specifically referring to the one guy without any writing on his chest.

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