The interim head of the Gallaudet University board of trustees has resigned, saying she was overwhelmed by the protests that greeted the selection of a new president to lead the nation’s only liberal arts college for the deaf.
“The presidential search and the controversy that has ensued have put enormous strain and stress on me,” Celia May Baldwin wrote in a memo Tuesday. “I simply could not ignore the numerous aggressive threats that I have received over the past weeks.”
Baldwin’s memo did not elaborate on the kinds of threats that were made against her.
There’s an open question here about what the real issue is. Fernandes and I. King Jordan, the outgoing president, insist it’s the perception on campus that she’s not “culturally deaf” enough. Some news reports quote students and faculty as saying it has less to do with that than with her allegedly poor administrative skills, but aside from the D.C. Examiner, they don’t provide concrete examples. Here’s a rambling op-ed by a Gallaudet student in Inside Higher Ed that’s representative insofar as it’s long on empty phrases — “she’s an administrator, not a leader,” “students weren’t listened to at all” — and maddeningly short on particulars.
Let’s just say this. If the problem genuinely has nothing to do with her being a “traitor to deafness” or whatever, if it’s really a simple matter of people on campus not liking her — then they really don’t like her. More from from WaPo:
The 750-seat auditorium was full to overflowing, mostly with students, and the crowd soon turned angry as people stood on stage to sign questions to board members Celia May L. Baldwin, interim chairman, and Tom Humphries, who emphasized that they have heard the concerns but that the board will not change its decision.
“I beg of you,” Baldwin signed, “to put your trust in us. Give us a chance. Give us an opportunity to prove to you that the selection was accurate.”
People in the audience shouted “No!” over and over, waving arms in the air and signing.
The meeting ended with people walking out, just as they had when Fernandes’s appointment was announced last Monday.
Here, via Goldstein, is Cathy Young’s piece in Reason from 2002 on the militancy of the “deaf pride” movement. Cochlear implants? Those are for sellouts, man.