While visiting Washington, District of Columbia from Oregon, I remember watching: Gallaudet: The Film in 2010 with late Carl Schroeder, it was the very day before we visited Gallaudet University. I could not exactly understand the social phenomenon that time because I was not a student at Gallaudet University.
When we entered on the campus from Florida Ave NE by car, I still remember the feeling when I stepped my shoes on the Gallaudet soil, it was something I would never forget. It was the path where we walked that way entering into Sorenson Language and Communication Center (SLCC) to find Department of ASL/Deaf Studies.
The passage of second wave Oralism to legalize oppression of American Sign Language (ASL) has been showing both films: Gallaudet: The Film By Facundo Element and Our Deaf Community | Celebrating Gallaudet By Convo has sent a signal to embrace ASL and Deaf culture. The Pandora Box has warned all of us.
I saw the film premiere by Convo last October 2019;
What’s the deal between Facundo Element and Convo? Between Gallaudet University and Convo? What about Gallaudet University and Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD)? What is the difference between Communication Service for the Deaf and Sorenson Language and Communication Center (SLCC)?
As University budgets continue to be slashed, Deaf-centered philosophy for the award-winning Deaf space, anti-bias resources had been lacked, and that is the problem of the Gallaudet system. When you enter Gallaudet University as a student, you would be colonized, good or bad. Whether you want to challenge or be a bystander; I now understand the social phenomenon.
The mentality of Gallaudet. I became a student in graduate program on a full-ride scholarship in ASL/Deaf Studies in 2013; Even though the first time in 2010 when I saw Gallaudet: The Film, it has not inflicted me that time. Again, because I couldn’t understand that time. So, I had to watch that film again, and that is where it hit the lighting. Just like Ben Franklin using the kite to test and see if the lighting strikes the kite.
Can we learn ourselves of oppressive Gallaudet University by conversing the university anew to preserve and promote ASL and Deaf Culture? That is exactly what Carl taught me on the plane back home from the Deaf Community (DC) to Portland.
He explained: Gallaudophobia to describe of oppression at Gallaudet University and elsewhere. Of course, we are not experts in curing Gallaudophobia; do you think it is a serious phobia? Is it the culture of fear an outgoing problem: Gallaudet-style oppression? Let me give you few examples of phobias:
Eleutherophobia: fear of freedom
Mastigophobia: fear of punishment
Epistemiphobia: fear of knowledge
Let’s turn our thoughts to the oppression. It strikes me that the program of Gallaudet University is more ideological more than phenomenal rather than generosity. Its ambition is to weaken or destroy ASL and Deaf Culture.
The Deaf space is the hottest market where Deaf scholars are treated with honour. Imagine Board of Trustees (BoT) who sits together in order to share wisdom and advice with the Gallaudet campus. Imagine going to this Board the moment you first recognize your own language there. Imagine sharing your concerns with the Board, the Deaf members like yourself who listen to you with respect. Imagine how you would feel about yourself if you could call on this Board’s guidance when you need it.
Wake up! Do we really have this kind of imagination at Gallaudet University today? Do we understand that the Board of Trustees is powerful? Have they failed to live within the goals now?
Hansel Bauman, the leading-architect for the Deaf Space at Gallaudet University, as I learned later that Janet Pray would typically say that sign language users are an “increasingly small” percentage of the deaf population.
In 2006, from GallyNet-L where a comment by Deep Eyes wrote:
“king and jk plan to meet with washington post editorial board this
afternoon. they will try to manipulate public info & perception. make
sure deaf people get correct info to the media
let world know that board voted 7-5 initially – 7 votes for jk and 5
votes for steve weiner. king then came into the picture…. manipulated
boardies like puppets and get ’em to go 12-0 for jk. illegal? No! But it
stinks!! king is now a fair game
look at king’s compensation package and perks. very similar to the mess
at american university which actually forced him to retire
DPN in 1988 belongs to all deaf people, not to king. remember that cuz
king and his people forget that”
About SLCC, there was a committee of university constituents (approx. 2002) who were discussing plans for the new building and the committee decided that the name should include the word “culture” as in “Sorenson Language and Cultural Center”–however, Irving King Jordan, Janet Fernandes, and Janet Pray ignored that and changed it to “Sorenson Language and Communication Center.” Some people think that when Janet Pray typed the minutes for the committee meetings that she sneakily changed what the committee decided.
Brian Riley wrote in February 2007: “Breaking News–Web page for SLCC taken off Gallaudet.edu”:
“According to one reliable report, Gallaudet’s Faculty and students (in committee) had originally objected to the plan to use the word “Communication” in the name of the building and favored the word “Cultural” instead. However, the wishes of the faculty and the students were ignored. The decision was made by Paul Kelly, Irving Jordan King, Jane Fernandes, and Catherine Sweet-Windham to bypass the committee’s decision. They overrode the decision and took their illegitimate decision (to use the word “Communication”) to the Board for approval.
Question have also raised about the legality of the contract between Sorenson and Gallaudet. The contract reportedly gives away patent rights to Sorenson for any new inventions or innovations created in the planned building. Such an ill-conceived contract is probably not legal, since Gallaudet is registered as a 501 (c)(3) with the Federal Government and is required to reinvest all profits from campus activities and ventures back into the non-profit corporation of Gallaudet itself.”
In its place comes a sort of biblical oppression that would be in Christian name, EPHPHATHA. Through this Christian word on the official university seal, there would be no freedom of expression, no freedom of religion, no independent academic disciplines, and no place for scientific progress. In short, it would be our worst nightmare.
1) Home again at Gallaudet University;
2) The acceptance of ASL in the academy;
3) The nature and persistence of the linguistic research;
4) The power of ASL to influence and shape the human mind;
5) The character of faculty as it shapes intellectual life of the Deaf;
Is Gallaudet University a place of safety, where ASL becomes the focus? Is ASL home or fading?
The understanding of an economic system that oppress ASL and Deaf people be replaced with a system that meets the needs of the Audism. To that end, ASL pays tribute to Deaf people. It is the voice of thousands and thousands of everyday Deaf people who are fighting to preserve ASL and Deaf culture in crisis.
14 years ago. October 31, 2006. Washington Post editorial: Gallaudet Loss. Don’t we all remember that Post article or have we forgotten it? We need to review that again and again.
Despite more aggressive and often dishonest tactics, Gallaudet University public relations are encountering resistance on campus, not only students, but also faculty, staff, and alumni.
That leads to a newspaper letter, The Examiner written technically a letter to the editor by once again, Brian Riley in 2006: Protestors are trying to save Gallaudet University for the future has proved social problems today.
What happened to Gallaudet University unique because it is where ASL is best used comparing between 1988 and 2020? There are so many areas of scholarship in Gallaudet University that cry for betterment, and we need more insightful leaders to create a Deaf-centered path for all of us to be hungry for.
The film differences between Facundo Element and Convo is something we need to do serious critical thinking how to save Gallaudet University for the future. One of the more powerful films we need to stumble upon block of stone that sits on the “sacred ground of the Deaf” in Washington, D.C., the problem is that it is still struggling to be as Deaf-centered University.
Copyright © 2020 Jason Tozier
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