Gallaudet Protest Legal Issues

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Friday, November 01, 2013

Excerpt from an e-mail to Lewis Perry, regarding his book: Civil Disobedience–An American Tradition (Nov. 1, 2013)

I feel somewhat excited that you featured the 2006 Unity for Gallaudet (UFG) protest in such a prominent way in the beginning of your new book on civil disobedience, so I don't mean to be overly critical. Just putting us front and center like that feels very satisfying, and so my subsequent thoughts of a critical-negative nature are something that I hope you take as being secondary.

That being said, I feel you missed out on some very important points of contextualization. The first major point is that we UFG protesters did not perceive our protest in 2006 as being substantially different from the 1988 Deaf President Now (DPN) protest, in terms of its ultimate import and purpose. I think you are wrongly interpreting the events in a too-shallow fashion by categorizing the two protests as being primarily related to campus politics and on top of that by classifying the 1988 and 2006 protests as being fundamentally different in purpose. Campus politics is not the fundamental context at all.  The fundamental context is one of Gallaudet University being a cultural institution as part of Deaf culture. Gallaudet, in fact, plays a large role in creating Deaf culture. So the larger, more fundamental context for both the 1988 and 2006 protests involves the theme of self-determination on the part of Deaf people (i.e., deaf people who use a natural sign language in the US).  If you don't grasp the meaning or reality of Deaf culture, and feel the need to put it in quotes as something to be disputed, then you're not going to grasp the significance of what I am saying here. To learn more, you should read: The People of the Eye–Deaf Ethnicity and Ancestry, by Harlan Lane, Richard C. Pillard and Ulf Hedberg.

So it is not correct to criticize us 2006 protesters for supposedly not giving a sufficient theoretical justification to the public for what we were doing, precisely because we perceived the 2006 protest as being a continuation and necessary follow-up of the 1988 protest. The very first speech given during the 2006 protest was given by Tawny Holmes at the front gate on May 1, 2006, and she rallied the crowd by signing "Better President Now! Better President Now!" In the first days of the 2006 protest, many were referring to it as "DPN 2", i.e., meaning: DPN Part 2. In that sense, everything that was presented in 1988, ipso facto, carried over to the 2006 protest as justification for it as well (including all the formal lessons given to the 1988 student protest leaders in their government class, which was taught by Mary Malzkuhn and is well documented).

For my part, I participated in the 1988 protest as well. Before we knew we had achieved victory on that Sunday (March 13, 1988), we were planning a major march on the Lincoln memorial for Tuesday, March 15, 1988, in part because of that being the location of King's famous I Have a Dream speech. I myself had put together a flyer quoting major portions of the speech and we had run off hundreds of photocopies. We didn't need to use them or have that march, because we won the protest and it became unnecessary. Later, in 2006, I personally took it for granted that it was understood by most protesters that there was a connection between the Black Civil Rights Movement (including the famous lunch counter sit-ins/sit-downs, etc.) and the 1988 and 2006 protests at Gallaudet. In 1988, after the protest, I myself had written a long, two-part article that was titled "Deaf Civil Rights" to emphasize this connection.

Another very important point that you are missing is that the Gallaudet community is a bilingual community and ASL is not a written language. So it's simply not accurate to take a survey of things published in English and then claim there was little or no presentation of theoretical justification for the civil disobedience in 2006. What you were reading in the blogs, though abundant in the number of words, was actually just a tiny tip of the metaphorical iceberg of all that was communicated in total. Obviously, 99% of what was communicated in ASL was not recorded in any permanent form. We did, in fact, have theoretical discussions of civil disobedience. Suzy Rosen Singleton, a UFG protester who herself is an attorney, in fact gave lessons to protesters on the nature of civil disobedience and techniques on how to "go limp", and so forth, when being arrested. This was just before Black Friday. That's only just one example. I'm sure there are many more.

I better stop now, but I hope this brief note helps you to gain a deeper appreciation of the historical context involved.  By the way, as a PhD student at UC Davis, I was also a protest organizer during the Occupy UC Davis movement in 2011 and also played a pivotal role during the Pepper Spray Incident as to what transpired, so I am bringing a long perspective and a lot of experience to what I say here. I completed my master's in linguistics at Gallaudet in 1987, then enrolled in a PhD program at UC Davis in 2008.

You might be interested to know that Tawny herself just completed law school and has already written about the Unity for Gallaudet protest. [LINK]

I should mention that I am simplifying the social situation involving deaf people for the purposes of this e-mail. Just to give you a brief idea of the complexities involved, think of culturally Deaf people (those who use sign language) as being the "core" of a larger group that includes those hard of hearing people who lean more toward speaking, and some deaf people who rely less on sign language and more on lipreading. I myself am part of an unusual category of people who have experienced a vocational hearing injury who can sign fluently, doubly complicated in my case from having longstanding hearing "endurance" issues from childhood.

Thanks for reading.



"Justice for Gallaudet" (Oct. 11, 2006) [LINK]
"Jordan Poised to Make Worst Mistake of His Life" (Oct. 13, 2006) [LINK]
"Manifesto" (Oct. 16, 2006) by DPN student leaders  [LINK]

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Here is the old erroneous definition of American Sign Language that used to be included in the University Faculty Guidelines at Gallaudet

To see Ryan Commerson's video commentary on this old policy, please go here:

NOTE: This policy was officially revoked and replaced with a new policy on April 30, 2007. See the UPDATE below.


Page 3 of the University Faculty Guidelines (May 2006)

2.2 Policy Concerning Communication

The University Faculty Recognizes that the Gallaudet academic community includes persons who depend on a variety of communication modes and that a major purpose of instruction is the communication of information and ideas. Gallaudet's mission, as a unique educational institution, is inextricably bound to the need for accessible and direct communication among students, faculty, and staff. Historically, the university has integrated sign language into its educational programs. The University Faculty is now committed to a working model of a bilingual (American Sign Language and English) multi-cultural community where deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing people can learn and work together without communication barriers. The centrality of communication at Gallaudet permeates all programs and services. Accessible communication is the right of all members of the Gallaudet community and the people served. The university faculty encourages the learning and clear use of American Sign Language and English in all aspects of university life to meet the needs of the individuals served. To facilitate meaningful visual communication, the Faculty is expected to use clear sign communication, with or without voice in the classroom, in faculty meetings, and in meetings of like nature, as well as when communicating with individual students. The term American Sign Language is to be used in an all-inclusive sense and includes signs expressed in English word order, with or without voice--in much the same way many deaf and hard-of-hearing people communicate among themselves and with hearing people.

UPDATE, May 12, 2007

The old policy was officially revoked by the Gallaudet Faculty Senate and a new policy was officially approved on April 30, 2007. Here is the new policy:


2.2 Policy Concerning Communication

The University Faculty recognizes that our community is comprised of deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing individuals who depend on a variety of communication modalities. Gallaudet’s mission as a unique educational institution is inextricably bound to the need for direct, comprehensible and accessible communication among students and faculty. To that end, all members of the University Faculty are committed to promoting bilingual (American Sign Language and Written English) communication. The University is committed to providing training and resources, as needed, to support all members of the Faculty in developing the necessary language skills.

This policy is not prescriptive, allowing considerable latitude with regard to acceptable communication on campus; the only restrictions are that the communication be direct, comprehensible and accessible.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The dramatic and historic events of May 1, 2006

Exactly one year ago today at approximately 2:30 pm, May 1, 2006, an assembly was held in the Swindells Auditorium on the Gallaudet University campus.

THIS VIDEO taken by Gallaudet student Tommy Korn, shows the historic event.

Here is a transcript of the audio track:

BOARD CHAIR CELIA MAY BALDWIN (voice of interpreter): The Board came to a unanimous decision. We presented an offer to this individual. The entire Board is in support of that offer. The offer *was* accepted this morning. And so it is with great pleasure that I announce to you the ninth president of this university will be.... Doctor... Jane... Fernandes...

Scattered applause. Loud jeers and boos

Celia May Baldwin turns her head, inviting individuals off stage to walk onto the stage, while Ryan Commerson walks down the center aisle of the auditorium toward the front so that deaf audience members can see his signs.

The interpreter interprets Celia May Baldwin's comments made to people (Board members) off stage.

BALDWIN: Please join me in giving her a warm welcome, to President-Elect Jane Fernandes...


BALDWIN: ... [unintelligible] to the stage.

Upon reaching the the area near the front, Ryan Commerson manages to make a very brief announcement, saying that all those people who disagreed with the decision should leave the auditorium. Only about 5 or 6 people rise to give a standing ovation, per Jordan's hand-wave signal to his supporters. Others rise to prepare to walk out. Several students are shown walking out, apparently in disgust.

Just as Ryan Commerson arrived in place in front of the podium, Irving King Jordan, Jr was seen signaling campus police officer Patrick Rader who was in the back of the auditorium. Jordan walks calmly down the steps of of the stage toward Ryan Commerson, while Patrick Rader rushes down the aisle and apprehends Ryan Commerson, manhandles him, and forces him out to the lobby.

[End Tommy Korn video]

THIS VIDEO uploaded to by Elisa Abenchuchan on May 1, 2006 shows Gallaudet alumna and former Student Body President Tawny Holmes making the first speech of the then-unnamed protest. By this time, at approximately 3:00 to 3:15 pm, Tawny Holmes motivated the crowd by chanting in sign: "Better president now! Better president now! Better president now!...."

THIS POST by Elisa Abenchuchan gives a dramatic account of how the events of the day unfolded...

THIS POST by Elisa was written and posted later that evening.

THIS POST by Elisa was posted in the morning of May 2, 2006.

THIS POST by Elisa was posted in the mid-afternoon of May 2, 2006.


For the convenience of media personnel wanting a printout to take out to the field, please CLICK HERE to download and printout a PDF version of this press release, including the four historic posts from Elisa's Xanga blog. ( does not offer a print feature.)

[Small edits: Sept. 21, 2018]

Friday, October 20, 2006

Letters to the editor
The Examiner
Oct 19, 2006 5:00 a.m.
by Brian Riley


Protesters are trying to save Gallaudet University for the future

Re: “Editorial: Enough is enough at Gallaudet,” Editorial, Oct. 16

The Examiner does not understand the extraordinary nature of the situation at Gallaudet, and the need for a strong wake-up call. We protesters know that if we did not take such action, the very existence of the university would be threatened.

The word must get out that we are not acting destructively, but are reacting to the destructive actions of outgoing President I. King Jordan and incoming President Jane Fernandes. By performing acts of civil disobedience, we are saving Gallaudet. That way, the younger children will also be able to attend Kendall School and MSSD.

During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln resorted to suspending the writ of habeas corpus. By doing so, he was able to save the Constitution and the Union.

The editors of The Examiner are being short-sighted and not taking into account the total circumstances surrounding these events.

Brian Riley
Fresno, Calif.

NOTE: In a blatant move which violated my free speech, I was kicked off of the Gallaudet University campus only a few hours after this letter to the editor appeared in newspapers on the news stands in the DC area.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The word being passed around that is originating from King Jordan is that somehow the whole fight to remove Jane Fernandes is a personal thing and it's not about the larger issues of promoting better deaf education.

There is a rumor circulating that the whole protest movement was started by one of the candidates to be president of Gallaudet who was rejected.

That is absolutely false. The protest movement was started by the apprehension of Ryan Commerson on May 1, 2006 when Jordan had Department of Public Security officers standing by, because he (Jordan) already knew that there would be discontent and a possible protest.

He already admitted in print that he knew there might be a protest. This shows consciousness of guilt on Jordan's part for his role in his behind-the-scenes maneuvering to get Fernandes selected. The way Jordan did it, mainly, was by being prepared years in advance and getting his pre-selected people put on the Board of Trustees as members (at least four people). Then, when the hiring process was being conducted, Jordan could step-back and show that he was not involved, when the truth was that his puppets on the Board were doing all the work for him and they were making it look like they were following "best practices."

What happened was that Jordan ended up being his own worst enemy, because it was the apprehending of Ryan on May 1 that started the protest. The audience was outraged at seeing the DPS officer grab Ryan and throw him out, when Ryan was being very peaceful and polite. Ryan did not interrupt anyone.

Honestly, no one knows at this point who created the mysterious flyer that Fernandes has on her Web site. History will show who it was. The point is, though, that the mysterious flyer was never seen in Tent City, and all of the protesters that I talked to said they never heard of it until it appeared on Fernandes's Web site. [Update: 9/9/12, it was created by a single protester acting alone and had very little distribution.]

I am certain that Jordan and Fernandes are being dishonest about why they started the "not deaf enough" campaign. Anyone who reads page 10 of the book by Christensen and Barnartt called Deaf President Now! will see that the "not deaf enough" phrase was taken from that book, probably by Jordan and that he suggested the idea to Fernandes as a way to fight the protest.

The book was published in 1995 and we can assume that Jordan knew about what was going to appear in the book long before 1995. One of the authors of the book, John B. Christiansen, was on the presidential search committee that hired Jane Fernandes. [Update, 9/10/12: Christiansen wrote a book titled: Reflections: My Life in the Deaf and Hearing Worlds, which was published in 2010.]

At this point we need to ask Christensen and Barnartt why they put the term "deaf enough" on page 10 of the book. They claim to be quoting Gary Olsen who was executive director of the NAD in 1988. They say that they interviewed him shortly after the 1988 protest. Did Gary Olsen really say that Jordan was seen by members of the NAD as not being "deaf enough" to be president of Gallaudet in 1988? I want to see proof from Christensen and Barnartt that he actually said that. What was the context of Gary Olsen's remarks?

The reason we need to know the context of Gary Olsen's alleged remarks to Christiansen and Barnartt is that yes, there is validity in the NAD rejecting Jordan's candidacy to be president of Gallaudet. Look what happened! Jordan became president of Gallaudet and he messed everything up. If that was the NAD's view in 1988, then they were absolutely correct. They should have pressed harder to have Jordan rejected and have Corson or someone else selected as president.

If Gary Olsen used the term "deaf enough" in talking to Christensen and Barnartt, then he needed to explain himself more and be more exact. The whole history of the Deaf Culture Movement shows that it doesn't matter what kind of background a deaf person has, they will be welcomed into the movement when they become interested at some point in their life. However, if they (newcomers) do not see ASL users as being their moral equals, then they shouldn't complain if they have difficulty fitting in.

It is confusing to say that such a person is "not deaf enough," because then the reference is vague and not exact. What is happening is that person is trying to have his cake and eat it to. The newcomer wants to be a member of the Deaf Community, but at the same time the newcomer wants to reject the moral equality of the ASL users and claim a special superior status. Then when the ASL users criticize that person, that person might try to to tell the ASL people, "You are being unfair! You are saying that I am 'not deaf enough.'"

Well, it was the newcomer's fault in the first place for not accepting the ASL users as being moral equals. It is not because the person is "not deaf enough"–that person's background is not important. The Deaf Community doesn't care. What is important is the newcomer's attitude and their view towards others.

What would happen if someone who was born in a foreign country came to America and became a US citizen. That's fine. No problem. Now suppose that person runs for office and becomes a US Senator. Great! But what if that person then launched a campaign to revoke the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution?

Should we say to ourselves, "Well, we can't criticize him, because he will claim we don't accept him because he is 'not American enough.'"

Nonsense! Don't let them fool you and cause confusion. The phrase "not deaf enough" by itself doesn't mean anything. It has to have an appropriate context.

If that senator tries to revoke the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution, then it is very proper to call his plan "anti-American." That doesn't mean there is something wrong with that person because of being born in a foreign country. Rather, it means that there is something wrong with that person's philosophy, including that person's politics.

The same thing goes for Fernandes. Who gives a damn about her oral upbringing? Nobody does. If the person that wrote the mysterious flyer was a genuine protester, then perhaps he or she mentioned it as a way to draw our attention to Fernandes's philosophy. I'm sure that person didn't give a damn either. [Update: 9/9/12, this is true.]

But now we see that Jordan and Fernandes have taken the "not deaf enough" thing from page 10 of the Deaf President Now! book, because they thought that the protest would only last a week and then it would be over. But now we have enough time to think about the whole thing and discover how Jordan and Fernandes were operating. The whole thing about her saying she wasn't deaf enough because she was responding to the flyer has to be a lie. The origin has to be the Christiansen and Barnartt book, and it has to be true that Jordan has been thinking about this for years and also thinking about strategies he could use to fight against a protest.

The "not deaf enough" thing almost worked. But now we know that it is a dirty trick. It confuses two different issues by mixing them together. Those two issues are 1) Fernandes's background, and 2) Fernandes's attitude/views/policies.

Nobody cares about Fernandes's background. King Jordan told the author of the book Dancing Without Music that he was "not a real member of the deaf community." That quote was circulated around during the time just before the Deaf President Now protest began in 1988. (And he had already said the same thing to the Washington Post in 1978.)

In spite of Jordan saying that, the Deaf Community still welcomed Jordan as being a hero when he became president of Gallaudet!

That proves that the whole "not deaf enough" thing, as reported on Fernandes's Web site, is a lie designed by Jordan and Fernandes--and that they know it is a lie. They are both big time liars.

It's not so unusual that I would say this. A lot of newspapers and magazines are writing about the fact that a lot of university presidents are acting dishonestly. It's a general American cultural trend, because a lot of university presidents are going after the big bucks. Academia as a whole is becoming corrupted. Jordan and Fernandes are no exception.

Fernandes knows exactly what she is doing. Look at her obfuscatory language in the May 5th Washington Post article: "All those things [growing up speaking and not signing, attending mainstreamed schools growing up and not learning to sign until she was 23] are markers that define what kind of deaf person I am..."

Look what she is deliberately doing with that language. She is deliberately mixing up the issue of her origins with the issue of her current philosophy and current views. Of course (!) we should criticize her for her current views if she thinks the Deaf Culture Movement is something she does not want to support. We must criticize her views! Should we just let Gallaudet go down the drain and the allow the residential schools to be closed because Fernandes tries to fool us into thinking we have to be "fair" and that we should not be able to criticize her views because of her background? Wow, what a trick!

There seems to have been a pattern. First Jane Norman makes reference to a mysterious document that she never produces. Then Fernandes comes up with the wild explanation about the late discovery of the A-5 document that was involved in her obtaining tenure.

Would any jury in the United States believe that the dean was simply "cleaning her file cabinet" after the protest erupted and just happened to find a missing A-5 tenure form? The truth is that the full membership of the CLAST Promotion and Tenure Advisory Committee were never really given the opportunity to approve of granting tenure to Fernandes, due to the techniques of "management by intimidation" practiced by Kimmel. That's a fact.

Now let's put the rumor to rest about the protest being a "personal thing" against Fernandes. Such a tactic on Jordan's part is one of the oldest tricks in the book in the area of politics. Politicians are always accusing each other of waging "personal vendettas" and you can even see that in past issues of the Buff and Blue when student body leaders were going at each other. It's an old and tired tactic.

Here's the truth. I, Brian Riley, have not really been involved in the Gallaudet community hardly at all since 1991. I really had no idea what King Jordan was up to all these years, except that I sent him one e-mail a couple years ago and he answered back. I have no idea who the twenty-some people are who were rejected in the presidential search process. I am not in contact with them and I know virtually nothing about them. None of the people who are helping me behind the scenes are in contact with those presidential candidates. We never talk about them.

The only indirect contact I have had was when I was in FSSA and there was a meeting with some publicity people. Those publicity people had been hired (in the past) by one of the presidential candidates to help with his efforts to seek the presidency. (Yes, it was a male candidate. But they were no longer working for him and that candidate was not involved in their visit to FSSA.) I was only in that meeting for less than an hour and I did not have any further contact with those people. The FSSA members in that meeting ended up voting to reject their advice.

This now puts the rumor to rest. I, Brian Riley, have no possible motive for making this a personal issue. I have no job in the Deaf Community and I do not plan in seeking a job in the Deaf Community in the future. I have had very little contact with the Gallaudet Community from 1991 to May 1, 2006. I exchanged a couple of letters in the early 1990's with my ex-girlfriend from Gallaudet and I was also the best man in my ex-roommate's wedding in the early 1990's.

I was a homecoming "prince" (escort) for a homecoming princess at Gallaudet in 1985 and I sent her one letter in the early 1990's. She never wrote back. I got one phone call from a Korean friend from Gallaudet asking if he could stop by and visit while he was in California, but I wasn't able to see him. That, plus a few friendly e-mails to my old Gally professors, plus some Christmas cards sent out over the years to Gally friends, plus the one e-mail to Jordan and his response--that's the sum total of my involvement with Gallaudet people from 1991 to 2005. Then earlier in this year, my ex-roommate and I started corresponding by e-mail, but we never talked about Gallaudet politics or any issues of that sort. We never talked about the search for a new president. I didn't know about it.

Therefore, it is impossible to accuse me of simply being against Fernandes on a personal basis. What would be my motivation? I never met her until May of 2006 and I knew nothing about her prior to that. I never talked about her with anyone until May 1, 2006 when I wrote an e-mail to a friend saying that I thought the protest against her was unfair.

Yes, my first reaction was to support Fernandes. I changed my opinion over the course of the first 3 days of the protest by educating myself about the issues. The reason I am involved is because I see very clearly the issues that are at stake. What is at stake is the survival of Gallaudet and the survival of the residential schools. True business!

This is not an invention on my part. The 2005 Gallaudet University Strategic Goals document represents the official end of Gallaudet as being the driving force behind, and the center of the Deaf Culture Movement. This is all explained very clearly in the June 30 press release on The June 30 press release is absolutely correct and it explains why the Deaf Culture Movement is currently in danger.

Even if Fernandes becomes president, the Community will still have to come to grips with this reality eventually. The residential schools will start to close (a process which is already beginning) and a few years from now people will look back and say that the June 30, 2006 Gallyprotest press release was absolutely correct. By that time it might be too late and there might be Members of Congress and Senators who will vote to close down Gallaudet. Then it will be gone forever. All the hopes, all the dreams, all the labor, all the tremendous good that came from Gallaudet–gone.

Why should Gallaudet exist if it is not the center [Addendum, 9/9/12: or one of the main centers] of the Deaf Culture Movement? Remember, "culture" means a lot more than just "way of life," it also means civilization and learning. If Gallaudet is not the place to go to participate in the Deaf Culture Movement, then it will have nothing to differentiate it from any other university. Deaf students will simply use interpreters and go to any other university as mainstreamed students.

The deaf community in France became the first deaf community to join the Philosophy and Science Movement that was started by the ancient Greek philosophers. That was a major achievement. Then the movement spread internationally when Laurent Clerc come to America. Then, when the Columbia Institution was established and then later Gallaudet College, that was another major, major advance for the Deaf Culture Movement and for Western civilization.

Gallaudet became the "tree trunk" that created the residential schools, which are the "limbs and branches." The whole Deaf Culture Movement was headquartered at Columbia (later Gallaudet) sometime after Columbia was formed in 1857 to the year 2005. (The headquarters was originally in Hartford, Connecticut.) Then in 2005 the Strategic Goals policy was approved by the Gallaudet Board of Trustees and Gallaudet was no longer the center of the movement.

In 2005 Gallaudet became the center of a "disability rights" movement, which wants the world to see deaf people as disabled people who need financial help. See the picture? The world is ready to pour money into Gallaudet to help "those disabled people." When money gets poured into Gallaudet, people like King Jordan can earn over $500,000 dollars per year. Don't fool yourself. That's exactly what Fernandes wants–the $500,000 dollar salary eventually–and she is willing to squash anybody who gets in her way.

She doesn't really give a damn about deaf kids and their futures. Her behavior from the last 11 years as a Gallaudet administrator proves that conclusively.

This fight against Jordan and Fernandes is a fight to return Gallaudet to being the center of the Deaf Culture Movement. It has nothing to do with personal vendettas and it has nothing to do with fighting against Jane personally.

I already said on this blog that I watched a video of Jane in 1988 in Hawaii. I thought she seemed intelligent and attractive. I have reviewed her writings from those years in one of the newsletters and it appears that she was a good person in those days and was fighting to help save the school in Hawaii and she succeeded. I congratulate her for that.

The problem is what happened in August of 1995 when she became an administrator at Gallaudet and then became Jordan's protégé. She became a different person. She fired deaf people who were good and talented people who supported the Deaf Culture Movement. She used all sorts of tricks, such as "reorganization" and forcing people to reapply for their positions (in order to reject them), and other tricks such as having Kimmel be her hatchet person who goes around using the technique of Management By Intimidation ("MBI").

Now with Fernandes issuing the quote about how she is the "coxswain" who is throwing people "off the boat," the whole world can see that she is conscious of her guilt and that she is admitting part of it.

Jordan has now sent out a mailer by US Postal Service to the Gallaudet alumni members that does not support Fernandes. It appears that Jordan is only worried about his legacy now.

However, if he wants to save his legacy, he must immediately issue a public statement denouncing his prior policies of promoting deafness as being a disability to get tax money and he must denounce Fernandes. He must say clearly that the Board of Trustees has the legal right to fire Fernandes and he must take the appropriate action to make sure she does not get a termination payoff. There is no other appropriate thing for him to do. Anything else, and history will judge him to be a moral coward.

(If the payoff is just a university policy, then the policy should be immediately revoked. If there's a buyout figure per a clause in her contract, then it should be ignored and the Board should tell Fernandes to stuff it and they should fire her. She was dishonest in her years as a Gallaudet administrator and she may have even colluded in preventing the presidential hiring committee from seeing the very negative evaluation of her that was conducted by the faculty senate. All of that would mean her employment contract is null and void.)

If there are a few personal vendettas involved with some of the people, those people have nothing to do with me and they are not really helping the protest to succeed. I wish they would step out.

Brian Riley


Addendum (9/10/12): See also THIS BLOG POST which mentioned the May 5th Washington Post article and discusses the topic of leadership roles among university presidents.

Addendum (7/30/18): Apropos the topic of lying, see also THIS SPECIAL ISSUE of the Buff and Blue.

(Small edits, 9/9-10/12; "acting dishonestly" hyperlink added on 8/19/18)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

From: Brian Riley, Gallaudet Alumnus 1987

To: Gallaudet Community

Re: Inspirational message

Date: July 8, 2006

Dear fellow members of the Gallaudet Community,

More than a week has passed since the Gallyprotest press release of June 30, 2006. We've all been waiting for the other shoe to drop, and we've heard nothing, unless you want to say that the little slipper that Fernandes dropped afterwards qualifies.

As a "living bridge" from 1988 to the present, I would ask that other people also come forward who are willing to serve as such kinds of "bridges." I didn't play a major role in 1988, but I was there right in the center of the political hurricane--in the protest headquarters in the Alumni Office--standing up on the steps of the Capitol with the speakers that day of the march--in the Ely center after Jordan returned to campus after his acceptance speech, looking like a boy who just woke up on Christmas morning--in the wild and incredibly noisy celebration in the Abbey where Jordan gave a late-night speech--and many more places.

Please try to remember those days and recall the enthusiasm and spirit of the times. Let's pass those feelings on to the current protesters who need our inspirational support and guidance.

Very soon will come the day of reckoning for the malevolent forces that are at work now behind the scenes, frantically pulling every string they can grasp ahold of, making promises of future jobs, future favors, anything that they think will help to put the protesters to sleep and end the nightmare that they themselves created.

I am here to personally make a public vow that I will do everything in my strength and within my capability to bring about final victory in this protest. At this point I've been working so long and so hard, I can't even think of a way to convey the sense of dedication I feel. Words fail.

We are involved in an effort which will influence the course of history for many, many years. Try to imagine how much is at stake, how much tips in the balance right now involving the future happiness and success of Gallaudet students and Americans in general.

I am merely a facilitator. It's not necessary that I mention now what needs to be done. The people who have the power to do what needs to be done, including members of FSSA and other community leaders, know who they are and they already know what they need to do. I have supreme confidence that everything that needs to be done can be accomplished before January 1st. The time is now.

Therefore, in light of all the above, on behalf of all those who wish to join in, I hereby emphatically declare a moral victory in this current protest!

Now it's time to go on to achieve the practical victory. I know we can do it.

To quote Jerry Covell from 1988 in one of his famous speeches:

"The world can't stop us!"


Brian Riley

Note: To see a photo of Brian on stage at the Capitol during the rally on Friday, March 11, 1988, see the photo on the bottom of page 126 in Jack R. Gannon's book: "The Week the World Heard Gallaudet"--(wearing "Deaf Prez Now" T-shirt and blue jeans, right tennis shoe tilted outwards standing next to cameraman's bag.)