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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Alum's Reply to Concerned Students 

Once again, thanks to Elisa, who has provided consistent updates on the protests, the FSSA, IKJ, JK, replies and everything else.

Below is an alumnae's reply to the letter sent out by The Concerned Students:

A group of “concerned students” have sent out a letter stating that they want to see classes continue and that they are against the protestors’ take-over of HMB. This letter is an alumna’s response to their letter and complaints.

Dear Concerned Students:

Your letter touched me and it also saddened me a great deal. First off, I had been wondering “where are all the other students?” when the protest started off with roughly a 100 or so students. Yes, I knew that there were a group of students who supported the JKF selection as Gallaudet’s next president, and that is fine as I respect their stance; however I do know they are NOT the majority. So who is this group of students who are “on the fence”, standing in between the protesters and the group who supports JKF? The ones who are more concerned about getting to their classes, keeping up their grades, getting a degree, and henceforth, chasing their ambitions? No one is disputing that right… we agree with you that we ALL have a right to that. So let’s for a moment put that on the side and address the REAL issue.

I do feel for you! Maybe you feel that you are not fully understanding of the issues on both sides, and feel it best to take a neutral stance? Maybe you are curious about the issues behind the protest, but were slighted at some time in the past by the very students involved in the protest? Maybe you are new to the Deaf World, just having embarked on beginning the journey in understanding or recognizing your identity as a deaf human being so that you can’t be bothered with trying to understand all the issues behind the protest? Is that it, or is there more that I am missing? Please tell me! We are ALL in this together, and it helps if we can understand where the other is coming from.

But, please do not tell me that you’re just simply concerned about making it to your classes and that you have a right to get your education. To me, that is just a “band-aid” excuse and if we really looked deeper, there’s more to it than that. And, whoa, if I could only convince you, the “education” you seek is right there!! In front of your own precious eyes! What’s happening right now at Gallaudet and how it is affecting all of us across the USA, and quite possibly around the world, is absolutely phenomenal! What you learn within the protest is going to impact you and possibly enrich your education for the rest of your life. It will shape your ambitions, even! I urge you to get involved!!

It saddens me to see that your letter does not acknowledge the issues behind the protest. It does not acknowledge the severity of the situation where it impacting the spirit and reputation of Gallaudet. Your letter does not acknowledge how what’s happening today is going to affect your “tomorrow” because many alumni are angry and will not send monetary support to Gallaudet. Your letter does not acknowledge that what’s happening today is going to affect your education, because there are staff and faculty involved with the protest may not be there if JKF stays on as President as many expect to lose their jobs, be demoted, or be reassigned. This includes many who did not use their “names” but may be “found out”. So, can you see?? What’s happening right now is going to affect your education no matter what, so I urge you to get involved!!

If you are not sure how to get involved, go and do your research. Talk with your teachers about putting your studies on hold, or apply it towards the situation somehow. The internet is brimming at the seams with lots of information about the current protest so go read up on the various issues. If you don’t feel that you fully understand why others are saying that there’s discrimination, racism, and audism, then go and speak with the protesters or FSSA representatives whether it’s a student, staff or faculty to ask questions. Maybe set up a group meeting and engage in respectful dialogue. You may agree with some of the issues, and disagree with others, and that’s okay. Important thing is that you engage with others.

As I close, I wish you best of luck to you as you figure out where you fit in. But the important thing is, get involved! And, if I may, I would like to share a couple of my favorite quotes as a reminder that our humanity, rights to freedom of speech, and freedom from discrimination counts first and foremost. And, the only way to protect those rights is…… by getting involved!

First they came for the Jews

and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

-Pastor Martin Niemöller

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

With regards,

Chriz Dally

Alumni ‘04