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Posted on June 8th, 2012, by

Gallaudet University is a unique university providing people who are deaf people or people with certain hearing problems with excellent education and career opportunities for the future.  All of these people have to use sign language to communicate, thus, the educational techniques that are used at Gallaudet University are specific.

Nowadays, Gallaudet is not only a university, but it is also a secondary and elementary school. However, as any other university in the country, Gallaudet University also has certain problems and conflicts.  One of the problems, which has been discussed twice and resulted in protests in 1988 and 2006, was the elections of the new president of Gallaudet University.

The reason of the latest protest at Gallaudet, which started in May 2006, was the appointment of Jane K. Fernandes as the new president. As soon as the students have found out the news they have started to protest against Fernandes’s appointment. The majority of students took part in the protest, and they were also joined by some of the staff members and alumni of the university. All of those who took part in the protest were dissatisfied with the new president, because she did not grow to be culturally deaf and lost her hearing abilities when she was already 23 years old. Students and alumni claimed that Fernandes was not fluent enough in sign language and that they needed a better person, as they put it, to suit the deaf community’s needs, as well to satisfy diversity requirements [1]. As a result of the protest Jane K. Fernandes’s appointment was revoked, however, before that some 133 students of the university were arrested for shutting down the university for three days.

Protest 2006 at Gallaudet University is rather similar to the 1988 protest, because it started as a result of the appointment of the new president. During both protests students, faculty members and alumni demanded to appoint a president, who would be deaf and would be able to address all needs of the deaf community. However, there is a difference between 1988 and 2006 protests, which lies in the following.  The main goal of protest of 1988, which was called Deaf President Now!, was to make Board of Trustees to appoint a deaf president instead of a hearing president. Such a demand is rather reasonable, because only person who is deaf can understand the problems of other deaf people and learn sign language perfectly. The situation is different with the 2006 protest. Jane K. Fernandes is deaf and knows sign language; however, her candidacy was not approved by the students, university staff and alumni, because she wasn’t born deaf, thus, they thought that she would not be able to become a perfect president of Gallaudet University.

2006 protest at Gallaudet University affected very much not only deaf people, who are related to the university, but it also affected the whole Deaf Community of the USA and beyond its borders. A lot of people took active part in discussing the problem via the Internet, expressing their support and favour for what was being done at the moment.

Gallaudet University is a very famous educational establishment for deaf people, and the future of it looks rather bright. Its students have a very distinct and strong position as to what and how should be done in the university, they are able to stand for their views, which has been proved by the two protests, which were completed successfully.

Thus, the university will continue to improve or even expand, giving opportunity to even more deaf people to receive high-quality education.

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