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Monday, October 09, 2006

The Concerned Students 

There arises a new group, calling themselves The Concerned Students. Their first letter to the Gallaudet community was in regards to the lockdown of HMB.

Dr. Carol Erting provided a prompt response.

The Concerned Students' letter:

We, The Concerned Students of Gallaudet University, would like to alert the entire student body that we strongly oppose the barricade of the Hall Memorial Building (HMB). We are concerned that students who want to continue their education are being denied their fundamental rights to an education at Gallaudet University. The barricade of the building which primarily provide offices for the faculty members and classrooms, directly affect that academic activities of the University and therefore we consider the action as a gross violation of our rights.

We would like to emphasis that protesting is a choice and therefore our choice to attend our classes should equally be respected. The most relevant question we need to ask ourselves is: "Why are we at Gallaudet University in the first place?" Ponder on this for a moment.

We are at Gallaudet to earn a quality education. Many of us come from near and far, many of us are single parents, many of us are work-study students and pay our college education from our own pockets, some of us are international students whose stay in college depends largely on our grades, many of us have struggled so hard with VR, and if our grades fall, the risk of losing VR support becomes serious. We strive so hard to earn an education, an opportunity that might not be present to us everywhere. Gallaudet is one of a kind and will remain unique to us.

This dream and inspiration in us that guided our decision to come to Gallaudet for an education is about to be scattered and dashed. Our future ambitions and career goals are at stake and being held at ransom by protesters who did not send us to Gallaudet. It has been said that your destiny is in your hands. Only you can decide what you want to become tomorrow by your actions of today. By coming to Gallaudet University you have shown that you want a better tomorrow, a better education and better future. This protest is obviously interfering with our ambitions and we are voicing out our rights to earn an education.

We implore the faculty and staff who are part of the protest to put the ultimate priority of their obligations to the students in consideration.

The Concerned Students are still holding consultative meeting and we would like you to send your comments and concerns to us at gallystudents@yahoo.com.

Keep your eyes open for our announcements of Meeting dates, time and venue

Dr. Carol Erting's response:

Dear Bobby and other concerned students,

Thank you for your message to the community. I want to let you know that several of us faculty have been working very hard to assist in the resolution of this very serious situation on campus. We have been at HMB with the protesting students since the incident occurred with DPS and frightened students asked faculty to be present to ensure their safety. Please understand that this is a STUDENT action, not an action by the Faculty, Student, Staff, Alumni Coalition (FSSA). The coalition announced during the protest in May that it would not interfere with the ongoing educational activities of the university. That is still the position of the coalition. A coalition as you know is made up of independent groups who share similar goals but may take actions on their own to achieve them. That is what has happened in this case. Some of the written statements have added to the confusion so it is not surprising if contradictory messages are "out there." I am pasting a copy of a message I sent to the University Faculty officers yesterday. Please know that we are working diligently toward a peaceful resolution of the current situation so that classes may resume unimpeded, so that intimidation in all forms and toward all parties may cease on campus, and so that civility and respect toward all may prevail.

Here is a copy of the message I sent to faculty officers and their advisory group:


Several faculty members have been trying very hard to convince the students they should leave HMB. Three of us met briefly with Mike Moore last night and conveyed that message to him. We told him faculty who were inside HMB were there because we are concerned about the students' well-being. After the problems that occurred when DPS entered the building, students sent FSSA faculty a message pleading that they come to HMB because they were afraid. We have communicated repeatedly that we want them to leave the building. We made it clear to MIke that while the FSSA faculty support the students' two demands, this is a STUDENT action not an FSSA action and that we are trying to convince the students they need to leave the building.

Thursday afternoon there was an impromptu meeting at Fowler Hall. Several faculty were discussing the lack of response by the BOT to the faculty report when two student leaders walked into the building and asked to meet with us. As we met, more faculty joined the meeting as did a number of students and a few staff. The faculty in attendance made it very clear to the student leaders who were present that we did NOT support a lockdown of the campus. We tried to explain why and convince them they had other, better options. As we learned the next morning, they made their decision to lock down HMB. That decision was made by the students, not by FSSA and not with the support of any faculty member I know.

Each and every one of us needs to do our best to help them understand and come to a resolution of this situation today. FSSA faculty are meeting this morning at 11:00 am prior to the noon meeting the students are having with Mike Moore, Carl Pramuk, and Debbie DeStefano.

Please consider coming to campus today to meet with the students and help try and convince them to leave the building. I think it would convey a very important message especially if faculty officers were to meet with them, listen to their thoughts and feelings, and help them understand why they should leave the building today, by their own decision. They expressed deep appreciation to Mike, Carl and Debbie for coming to HMB yesterday and for their willingness to have open, direct discussions with them.

Please come to campus and try tell the students that. Help them understand it is the right thing to do and why.


Please feel free to come and discuss your concerns and perspectives with me and with other faculty. We are here for all Gallaudet students. A university is a place that should encourage open and free discussion. No one should feel intimidated or fearful to take a stand and discuss that stand with passion, civility, and respect. This kind of dialogue is essential to a free and democratic society and we should all be very concerned about protecting that right and taking that responsibility as community members. Once again, thank you for your message.


Carol J. Erting, Ph.D.

Chair and Professor

Department of Education

Gallaudet University

Washingtion, DC 20002


Bottom line is that the lockdown of the HMB was not sanctioned by the FSSA.