- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 14, 2006

Classes are scheduled to resume tomorrow at Gallaudet University in Northeast, where more than 100 demonstrators were arrested this weekend in a protest over incoming President Jane K. Fernandes.

Gallaudet President I. King Jordan yesterday pleaded in a statement for the campus to accept the next president and move on from the past week’s protests. He said that Friday night was one of the saddest of his life.

Students yesterday continued to block the campus’ main gate on Florida Avenue Northeast, the morning after police arrested those who ignored warnings not to block entrances to the campus.

The students were taken into custody by the Metropolitan Police Department. A department spokeswoman said 133 students were arrested Friday night and charged with incommoding, a charge lesser than unlawful assembly. The students had to pay a $50 fine to be released or schedule a court appearance. Some of the students who were arrested — at a side entrance on Sixth Street Northeast — returned yesterday to continue their protest.

The university had been virtually shut down since Wednesday, when students formed human chains at the campus gates to demand the resignation of Mrs. Fernandes, who was appointed to succeed Mr. Jordan in January.

The protests started last spring when the school’s board of trustees named Mrs. Fernandes. They ended over the summer break, but resumed after fall classes started. About 200 students on the night of Oct. 5 took over Hall Memorial Building, where many classes are held. They were forced from the building because of bomb threats and later escalated their protests to include blockades.

Protesters say Mrs. Fernandes is not open to different points of view and that the selection process did not reflect the student body’s diversity.

Mrs. Fernandes has said some people do not consider her “deaf enough” to be president — a characterization that some students have rejected. She was born deaf but grew up speaking and did not learn American Sign Language, the preferred method of communicating at Gallaudet, until she was 23.

Mrs. Fernandes briefly spoke to the students at Gallaudet, the country’s only liberal arts university for the deaf and hearing-impaired, on Friday in an attempt to meet their demands.

“We want to get this university back in business,” Gallaudet spokeswoman Mercy Coogan said yesterday. “Dr. Jordan, more than anything, didn’t want arrests to happen. Protesters themselves made that decision.”

School officials gave the students several warnings to vacate the entrances so classes could resume on the campus, which includes a nursery and lower schools. The officials have said they do not object to the students’ right to protest.

The arrests started Friday at about 9:30 p.m. Those arrested were carried to a police van. After each arrest, another protester took the empty place on the blockade line.


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