Tuesday, May 16, 2006

My Story: Gallaudet University - Board of Trustee

In the spring of 2003, I suddenly found myself to be the Acting President of the Student Body Government (SBG) at Gallaudet University from the role of Speaker of the House for the Student Congress with the resignation and disappearance of the previous administration's President Darius McCall and Vice-President Katie Canfield.

With the help of Dean of Students, Carl Pramuk, he had gotten me a spot to speak at the February Board of Trustee (BoT) meetings after the previous administration had failed to set up their spot. This part of the meetings with the BoT was called the 'Committee on Student Affairs' along with approximately seven BoT members present.

To get an idea of what the BoT's meeting schedule look alike. Check this link at here and there.

I was warned by Mr. Pramuk that I might not have much time to speak because my part was at the very end of the 90 minute meeting after the board hears from the athletic department and the honor's program. There was also the Graduate Student Association (GSA) President Greg Montgomery, that was scheduled to speak after me.

The athletic department took up approximately the first 30 minutes of the meeting and the honor's program took up the next 55 minutes. This only gave me and the GSA President two and half minutes each to speak on the behalf of the Gallaudet student body. I was truly upset at the honor's program because I felt that they had no regard for our part of the meeting whereas we'd have our opportunity to speak to the board about various issues that we go through on campus. The honor's program presentation to the board was led by its Director Dr. Shirley Shultz-Myers and Provost Dr. Jane Fernandes.

When I was called to speak my part to the BoT - I was cut off after only a minute and half and I was told that there wasn't any time remaining for me. I spoke back and told to the BoT that I represent the SBG and they should let me finish, unfortunately, they didn't let me finish and I had to go back to my seat. Up next was the GSA President, all he had to say was sorry that he's not able to say anything of importance due to the time, he hoped that he would see them at the first ever students & BoT tea social.

The voice of Gallaudet's undergraduate and graduate student body was shut out of the BoT meeting because Provost Dr. Fernandes and Dr. Shirley Schultz-Myers had no regard for us. As some of you know, this very meeting was our only opportunity to speak directly to the BoT because any other time we wanted to speak directly to the BoT, we'd have to go through the President I. King Jordan's office.

Late in the afternoon at the very first ever students & BoT tea social, there were approximately twenty-five selected few students by Mr. Pramuk present to socialize with the BoT and we were disappointed to find that only two BoT members showed up. One of two BoT members that showed up was Dr. Glenn Anderson.

Friday, May 05, 2006

My Story: Dr. Jane Fernandes

My second year at Gallaudet University in the fall of 2000. The campus was thrown into chaos after an Phi Kappa Zeta off-campus party when we all arrived back on campus to find that someone has been murdered. The deceased is Eric Plunkett, a person I miss dearly. He and I are proud alumni of Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf (MSAD) in Faribault.

Within days of the murder, Deb Skjeveland (her husband is a fellow Minnesotan), the coordinator of residence education at Clerc Hall sent an e-mail to specific Minnesotans (alumni of MSAD) to get together and talk about Eric Plunkett. As we gotten together, we agreed to her suggestion that we'd set up a scholarship in Eric's name and we agreed that this scholarship will go to any deserving incoming student from Minnesota. As the fall homecoming quickly approached, we had a booth to give out maroon and gold ribbons (MSAD colors) to the people that donated to the Eric Plunkett scholarship. The monies that we've collected were huge, we easily ambassed over the $25,000 needed to become endowed.

At the end of the semester, we were called into the Provost's ofice to meet with Eric's parents. Eric's parents thanked us for coming forward to work with the Provost for Eric and the scholarship. We all had a nice brief personal converstation and received a gift basket from them. I left the office stunned to find that Eric's parents were misled by Dr. Fernandes that she has initiated the scholarship and has seen to it that it has quickly become endowed. From that day forward, I never saw Dr. Fernandes as my Provost but as a person who is a cozener, when the credit should have been due to Deb Skjeveland, a real compassionate person who thought nothing of herself but for others. She is now a program manager for Camp Lakodia in South Dakota.

A cozener is not someone I'd want to have as our next President of Gallaudet University.

Correction: My apologies for the confusion. The PKZ party was in February of 2001 and the murder that happened was Ben Varner's death. The night that Eric Plunkett's body was discovered, I was at University of Maryland football game vs. Florida State University.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Unity For Gallaudet.

From Cave Spring, GA...I read every blog and news link I can find about the protest going on at Gallaudet University over the process and selection of Dr. Fernandes.

I am disappointed to find that there are one too many blogs out there that are essentially sticking up their noses at the protest that is going on its fourth day at Gallaudet. I cannot help but think of this poem by Pastor Martin Niemoller.

"First they came..."

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
To be clear here, I am not comparing the protest with War World II. I'm merely sharing the same sentiments that I'm feeling about this issue. We all need to come together in 'Unity For Gallaudet' regardless of affiliations, age, background, color, communication modes, sex, and more.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Gallaudet University - Board of Trustee.

As some of you may know that Gallaudet University has recently announced that their current provost Dr. Jane Fernandes has been selected as their 9th president.

I'm stunned!

Before I can spew out my anger at the selection process and how could this happen. I'm disappointed in myself that I didn't blog about this earlier and often as in 3 months ago when the presidential search committee (PSC) was in progress. I as in We, should have made it overwhelming clear that we will not see to it that Dr. Jane Fernandes becomes the next president.

I've been reading and receiving e-mails/pages from friends about the protest that is happening at Gallaudet University. I've been saying to myself and others that I wish I was at Washington, DC for this until I realized something.

The critical people that we need to reach are the decision makers and that is the Gallaudet's Board of Trustee. They don't all live in DC/MD/VA area. They live as far as California, Ohio, Michigan, Colorado, Arizona, South Dakota, New Jersey, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Georgia. Hence, I encourage you to contact your nearest Board of Trustee member and ask that they reconsider their selection. This is the link http://bot.gallaudet.edu/x245.xml to see who the Board of Trustees are and which state they reside in.