Phi Beta Cons

Sign of What?

Gallaudet University protests keep getting stranger.

Demonstrations against Dr. Fernandes began last spring with students and faculty members saying she did not appreciate the primacy of American Sign Language at Gallaudet and in deaf culture and lacked leadership qualities. Since then the complaints have only escalated.

The “primacy of American Sign Language” unrecognized? In response protesters have overrun and occupied the campus. That’ll show them. Additional evidence of contention:

At a faculty meeting several days ago, disagreements erupted when a deaf faculty member asked that the meeting be held exclusively in sign language, rather than in voice and sign language simultaneously.

Doing both has long been the norm at Gallaudet, something that some faculty members and protesters would like to change by instituting a “sign only” policy. They argue that signing without the use of spoken language should be the norm at the premier university for the deaf.  

I have no idea what to say about that, but students and police clearly don’t understand each other:

Last spring’s protests were rekindled as the board gathered to meet here last week, and students occupied a building. The administration sent in campus security, and protesters accused the security police of using pepper spray, shoving them and choking one student. The problem, they said, was that the officers did not know sign language, and could not understand protesters when they insisted their protest was peaceful.