As so often is the case in an emotional issue, the best decisions seem to escape those most closely involved. Yesterday, the Gallaudet administration decided it was time to clear away the protesters from one of the school’s gates. However, I’m not so sure sending a front-end loader to scoop up the tents and other belongings of the students was the smartest move. Maybe, just waiting until Sunday’s scheduled Board of Trustees’ meeting would have been better. At least, it would not have exasperated the situation.
From the Washington Post’s story this morning,
Gallaudet Protesters’ Camp Demolished, Injuring Some by Susan Kinzie and Michael E. Ruane:
“As protests continued, more complaints were raised about Fernandes’s performance as provost: The school was recently rated “ineffective” in an Office of Management and Budget report, in part because of chronically low graduation rates. There were objections to a perceived clampdown of freedom of expression on campus and what was described as a dismissive attitude from the board.”
As I have said before, I am not deaf and am only an interested outsider to all that is happening. However, if both students and faculty were surveyed prior to the selection and a majority indicated that Fernandes was “unacceptable,” how can one think anything other than the Board has chosen to ignore their opinions? Since Fernandes had been provost, there was certainly time to see her management and decision-making style. The questions pointed out in the Post story are troubling, and the low graduation rates are a sure sign of a failure on some level.
Now, supporters of the administration have aptly pointed out that the university is not a democracy. But how can they think that when a candidate who is so troublesome to so many students and faculty members is selected over their objections, that they have not been dismissed? If nothing else, the administration and board have seriously underestimated the extent of the discontent.