1) Angela McCaskill, the suspended Gallaudet University Diversity Officer at the heart of this story, is being used in an anti-same-sex marriage TV ad. According to CBS news, “McCaskill’s attorney says his client would like the ad to stop running,” but the Maryland Marriage Alliance intends to keep using it. Stay classy, MMA.
2) You could write one heck of a mistaken-identity farce set outside the gates of Gallaudet today, where two different groups — one pro-SSM, one anti-SSM — held competing protests. Interestingly, both protests were calling for McCaskill’s reinstatement.
Did either group bother to include Gallaudet students, or even any Deaf people, in planning their protests? If so, it hasn’t gone reported. In the ABC news video, at 1:04, and again at 1:20, there is a brief shot of Gallaudet students watching as a man in a suit signs to them. Did the protestors wisely bring an ASL interpreter to translate their protest? Or is the ASL speaker someone from the Gallaudet community commenting on the protestors? I can’t tell.
I suspect both protest groups are see this story in terms of how it affects Maryland’s anti-equality ballot measure on November 6. But the more important question is, how will this affect Gallaudet’s students? Is that a question either group protesting has seriously considered?
I still think Ms McCaskill should be reinstated. From the accounts I’ve read, she was an effective advocate for LGBTQ students in the past, and I hope she can mend fences and be effective again. But if she can’t do that, put her in some other job.
3) At Huffington Post, Josh Swiller focuses on the exclusion of Gallaudet students’ views from the coverage of the story:
Eager to score political points, the politicians, advocacy groups and national media miss the student position and the heart of the matter. Not one of them has asked what the Gallaudet students feel and desire. So let’s ask: Why do Gallaudet’s students resist the idea of immediately returning Dr. McCaskill to her previous position?
First, understand that respect for diversity affects them on the deepest personal levels. They are all minority students, part of the seldom-seen, seldom-heard deaf minority. It can be incredibly difficult to find common ground and understanding between deaf and hearing people, more so than between races and sexual orientations. For deaf students diversity is not a politically correct buzzword. The support of diversity programs and laws are some of the most powerful tools Gallaudet students have in their quests to have satisfying lives rich in opportunity.
Dr. McCaskill’s actions affected them deeply. […]
It has been disturbing to watch politicians and special interest groups run roughshod over the university’s internal dialogue. The vehemence and energy of those opposing Gallaudet (now they plan in-person protests) and their refusal to even consider the student position reinforces to those students that their opinions and emotions are disregarded.
Although I think Swiller’s post makes good points, I also want to point out that in comments, someone identifying themselves as a Gallaudet employee objected to the way Swiller seems to treat Gallaudet as possessing a “hive mind”:
It’s not a Hive Mind. There’s no such thing a a Deaf Community–or ANY community–that responds as one thing, that thinks as one. To assume otherwise is simply stereotyping and prejudice.
But Mr. Swiller is right that it’s shameful these protesting groups see an opportunity to score political points and now run roughshod over how anyone else might feel.
Do you really think that the student views regarding the particular person who fills the office is more important than the larger policy measures, or is that just a turn of phrase?
I think the larger policy question is more important to society in general. However, I don’t think that is, or should, be the primary question asked when Gallaudet decides how to handle returning McCaskill to her position. (And it’s obvious from what both sides are saying that she probably will return, it’s just a matter of when.)
We agree (booooring). The students are very relevant w/r/t ongoing school concerns. Although the student’s opinions aren’t necessarily controlling, because the school has the larger view and the students have the short term view.
The school might rationally conclude “we want students to understand that broadly public out-of-school behavior by our administration, which is not specifically targeted towards our school or students, is not something that students may expect us to consider in hiring or firing decisions.”
Or, perhaps, “we do not permit students to have a specific say in the hiring or firing of any administrator except to call to our attention any behavior which is illegal or far outside the bounds of appropriate social discourse. This is neither, and we wish to send a message that the students do not run this (or any) school.”
Or, perhaps, “as employers, we believe that we have wide-ranging abilities to control our employees’ behavior and expression, even when it occurs in the public sphere and isn’t specifically targeted towards our school or students. We can fire McCaskill for taking the ‘wrong’ political positions if we want to, just like we can fire her for using birth control, or for smoking, or for failing to attend church, or for going to a church whose beliefs we disagree with, or for pretty much anything else.”
At Gallaudet? That’ll go over horribly. There’s a huge and fabled history of student protests bringing down administrators. (I’ve got just a minute before I go to class. Google “Deaf President Now” for more information.)
I find this case fascinating because it serves as a really interesting middle ground between two opposing schools of thought.
Many folks who are generally invested in employee freedom from employer control as a social issue are also generally invested in AA or other diversity-type measures as social issues. They’re caught between employee freedoms and a political position that they don’t like. (That also applies to people who are both very pro-employer and very anti-gay, but I don’t interact with those folks.)
As such, I’m interested in HOW the arguments get made more than what the outcome is.
After looking at that picture again: someone brought a megaphone to a protest at Gallaudet? Did nobody stop to think that one through?
(Although, if I’m correctly identifying where they’re standing, and it’s on Florida Ave near 8th St — and I’m fairly certain I’m correct about that — then it was also one of the first intersections in DC to get the crossing lights that beep when it’s safe to cross. Pretty much the only people who would ever be crossing the street right there are people entering or leaving Gallaudet. While Gallaudet does have several blind students and faculty, all the ones that I know of are both blind and deaf, so the beeping really wouldn’t help them much. I never got a good explanation for how DC decided to install that system there. They didn’t have the beeping signs installed in most of the city until several years later.)
This is wrong. There are plenty of schools where students have a say in the hiring and firing of administrators (Deep Springs College, a school where I have a family connection, springs to mind). At Gallaudet, they do not have a formal role but they have historically been incredibly important and influential.
Regardless of their role in the process, it is clear that what the students want — available education for everyone — matters a whole lot more than what some non-deaf political activists want — a chance to score a political point. Any administrator who does not understand this is bad at their job.
.I’m sorry, is THAT what we’re talking about here? Or is this just an attempt to redefine the issue as the above?
Yeah this confused me too. Got a lot of alumna from Gallaudet in my city including working at the state high school here for the deaf. I’d be more interested in seeing what they had to say about it. I couldn’t download the ABC video to see what was being signed to know whether it was informative, or protest or whatever. But an issue like this is somewhat different than in previous protests of which Gallaudet has an extensive history.
Who’s their audience? Is it even the students? Doesn’t really seem like it to me as far as the ministers are concerned anyway.