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Is Student Body Government at Gallaudet University in Danger?

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Master Yoda (Deaf) Challenges Darth Vader (Hearing)

There has been concerns about the face of Student Body Government (SBG), a Deaf stronghold since it has been founded at Gallaudet University. SBG themes:

  • Home again at Gallaudet University;
  • The acceptance of Deaf people in the SBG;
  • The nature and persistence of Deaf leadership;
  • The power of Deaf people to influence and shape the human mind;
  • The character of SBG as it shapes intellectual life of the Deaf people.

What kind of concerns? There has been some debate around Gallaudet community that the hearing person who wants to run SBG—does not really care about Deaf people’s leadership. SBG has been clearly indicated that there is no place like home at Gallaudet University. SBG presented the first and foremost mission that Gallaudet University is often a place of safety, where worldly cares fade and ASL becomes the focus.

It is a good thing to encourage SGB to support Deaf people first. There is always a hunger among Deaf students for academic discourse in ASL, the language they know the best. In fact, at Gallaudet University, ASL is a lead language and is one of those universal characteristics of the human language for which SBG leaders are always on the prowl but that does not mean they should stop trying. All the past and present SBG presidents has been Deaf;

The nature and persistence of Deaf leadership in ASL means that we at Gallaudet University are committed to being the best we can be and to be attractive to a diverse community base by taking strategic action to be more inclusive, especially to those who may be novices to teaching Deaf students. They are to bring the flag of ASL to places where it has never flown before.

SBG has been given mission and vision by Deaf people to influence and shape our diverse mind. They are there to defend ASL fiercely, which is important to making monopolistic notions about Deaf culture. SBG values Deaf people first within our Deaf community. They are committed to sustain a culture where Deaf people is respected first as an important language of academic leadership and discourses.

The hearing person—who happens to be Children of Deaf Adults (CODA) with fifth generation of Deaf family would like to to run SBG. That is a personal insult. Would that make leadership for Deaf students to exist in permanent fear of the oblivion, worrying about whether Deaf students can survive the next SBG with an indifferent figurehead? At the same time, at Gallaudet University, Deaf students would be appearing uncomfortable with the achievements of their own past. The higher education, so often the means to their profession and advancement, now finds itself operating under a cloud of hearing people that it falls under a wrong agenda.

As I can remember when I was a graduate student at Gallaudet University, one of the committee members from Graduate Student Association (GSA) approached me if I was interested in running as president for GSA, I said as long as it is “Deaf-centered, Deaf-controlled, and Deaf-oriented” first and the committee member was like, “YES! WE WANT YOU! PLEASE CAST YOUR NAME IN THERE!” and I planned to.

Today, GSA still have hearing students—very confusing and dehumanizing. I can remember seeing some hearing students in there—and was not very impressed by their skills at all. Now it is good time to ask the rhetorical question, “Should SBG allow a hearing student in the cabinet?”—has long considered a way of emphasizing that something under discussion is an obvious, unquestionable truth.

With SBG in danger of having a hearing person in the cabinet, William K. Stevens once said, “When these interlopers choke our native species, ecologists see a danger signal.” Isn’t it the same thing that Deaf people see the danger when SBG might be oppressed by the administration to choke out Deaf people’s ASL and culture? Never mind the student fees.

-JT

Copyright © 2016 Jason Tozier

This text may be freely copied in its entirely only including this copyright message.

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