Is This Acceptable? A Gallaudet Teacher and Mother's Account of Wednesday's Events
October 25, 2006 1:30 PM
Dear Colleagues, Gallaudet Faculty Who Voted to Remove Dr. Fernandes from Her Post as Gallaudet’s Incoming President:
I apologize now for what will be a difficult, incoherent read—I am under pressure to get this out to as many people as possible, all the while answering students’ and parents’ questions. Feel free to pass this on—blog it, media it, and especially get it to parents and families who can make an informed decision about when to suggest that their students leave the university until it is safe.
On my drive in to work this morning I received several messages from students telling everyone to go to the MSSD/Brentwood gate to help students who were being roughed up by Gallaudet University campus security--the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and a group of non-DPS men, some of whom were identified by witnesses as Physical Plant Department (PPD)staff. I talked to many people (the "PPD" men, DPS officers, witness students, injured students, Student Health Services (SHS) staff, DC ambulance drivers, and DC police) involved in the situation to get this story to you as fast as possible.
When I arrived about 9:40 am, I saw students and others running away from the gate. Student witnesses told me that several students were injured when they were awakened and forced to leave the gate area. They told me that there were about 8-10 uniformed and easily identifiable DPS involved in taking over the gate. Witnesses also told me that there were around 30 men, some of whom were still standing around and who identified themselves to me as GU PPD.
At around 9:50, I began a discussion of GU DPS officers and, after identifying myself, asked them what happened, to which they answered “I don’t know” and “nothing.” Then I asked them (even though I knew the answer) if any students were injured, to which they answered, “none.” As we were talking, three DC Ambulance drivers approached us and asked if there were any injured students, to which the GU DPS officers answered, “no.” I interrupted and told the DC drivers that there were at least 3 injured students who were had been recently escorted by Dr. Sue Mather—and were in the SHS at that time. The DC drivers asked me where SHS was and I explained. But since getting through the gate was impossible they asked if there was another way to get there. The two DPS officers were silent and I volunteered to lead the way in my car, which I had parked a few yards away down the street. So, I, not the GU DPS, escorted the ambulance drivers to our injured students—me clearing the way—waving to cars to make way for the large vehicle. That’s sad.
The SHS is where I met two of the injured students who told me their story. One says he was awakened around 8 am to the feeling of things being thrown on his tent. When he unzipped and looked out, he was frightened as he saw around 8 DPS officers and PPD men (he can identify some of the men present but did not know their names), with personal vehicles parked nearby. He and another injured student told me that the cars contained construction supplies that they were using to throw at the students tents, including 3-5 inch diameter metal pipes. As students resisted by holding onto the gate, the “PPD” men yanked and shoved them. Then, the gate was pulled open over the foot of one student, who was treated at SHS and sent to Suburban hospital. While the mob of DPS and others shoved, yanked, and otherwise roughed up these groggy students, one group of men railed passed a student (I interviewed this student) with a metal pipe, ramming him in the knee. This student was later seen at SHS and was told to find a ride to Suburban Hospital to get an X-Ray for a possible fracture. SHS staff told me that this was administrative procedure for non-emergency injuries. I left as he was standing back at the gate waiting for his ride. That’s sad too.
Media cameras, interpreters, bloggers, witnesses and supporters were all there when I left at around 10:50.
Here are my questions—which might be yours too:
- Students in charge of the locked down at the gate tell me that they had a promise from GU administration that there would be warning before force was used to remove them. Why was there no warning given?
- When I asked Bubba Smith of the DPS about this he told me that he was not aware of this agreement and suggested that he was less than satisfied with his connection to our GU administration. What is the truth here?
- Was PPD involved in roughing up our GU students?
- Were DPS involved in roughing up our Students?
- Did this mob of PPD and DPS bring interpreters with them?
- Where was Mercy Coogan during this?
- Where was Dr. King?
- Where was Dr. Fernandes?
- Where are they now?
- Where is the statement on the website for parents to get straight answers?
- Where is the information for the rest of the GU community?
- If you go to the Gallaudet Home page and click around, you will see this:
A phone bank has been set up to have a central location where parents and other persons can call with questions or concerns. Please feel free to use any of the below methods to contact Gallaudet University. They will be operational 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.
- Off campus, toll free: 877-822-0680 (v/tty)
- On campus, x5811 (v/tty)
- Why is there no information on the Gallaudet Home page?
- Why is there no email update on the lack of safety for our students?
- Did IKJ order this sort of roughing up or, worse, did he not order it and these are rogue officers and staff working on their own?
- Who is working with victim students and other GU students who are afraid and confused about what is going on?
Now do people understand why 82% of the voters think that JKF needs to be removed? This University is not a safe place for students or its workers—besides the fact that we have leaders who are not and cannot lead. That’s the saddest part of all.
Dr. Kathleen Wood
Associate Professor at GU
Department of English, 17 years
Mother of two elementary Deaf students