- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The faculty at Gallaudet University last night overwhelmingly voted that Jane K. Fernandes should resign or be removed as incoming president of the nation’s premier school for the deaf.

At a regularly scheduled meeting of the entire faculty yesterday, 138 faculty members voted that Mrs. Fernandes should step down from the post she is set to take over in January, while 24 members voted against the motion.

The faculty also voted 131-23 that the university’s Board of Trustees hold an emergency meeting to address the issue, which has prompted widespread protests on the Northeast campus this fall.

Immediately after the vote last night, about 300 students continued their protest at the Florida Avenue gate.”We are not going to stop until Jane Fernandes is gone,” said Ryan Giovanni, director of public relations for the student government.

Also, a vote of no confidence against outgoing President I. King Jordan passed 80-60, faculty member Chris Heuer said. The body also voted 133-15 against any reprisals against the student protesters, who took over a campus building Oct. 5 and have been out in force ever since.

“We demand that Jane Fernandes resign or be removed,” said Mr. Heuer, who told reporters of the nonbinding votes taken at the meeting.

The meeting was attended by 221 of the university’s 293 faculty members and teachers.

Foreign-languages professor Mark Weinberg, also chairman of the university’s Faculty Senate, said problems began in 2000, when Mr. Jordan appointed Mrs. Fernandes as provost.

“That was the beginning of a very rocky road” in the selection process, Mr. Weinberg said.

As for last night’s vote regarding Mrs. Fernandes’ removal, Mr. Weinberg said, “There will be an ongoing instability on campus if she is not removed.”

Earlier yesterday, classes resumed at the Northeast campus, with those protesting Mrs. Fernandes allowing university business to proceed while they still camped out at the main entrance.

Protest leaders were not attempting to block access to the university, partially out of respect for the twice-yearly meeting of the entire faculty yesterday afternoon, said faculty member Diane Morton. The meeting is one of the only times faculty can vote as an entire body.

Protesters are hoping the faculty will officially support them in their demands for Mrs. Fernandes to resign.

“Students are anxious to know if the faculty supports them,” said Mr. Weinberg. He said the protest is not limited to students, even though they are the most visible contingent, but it is campuswide.

The campus was reopened Friday night after protesters had closed the university for three days.

Mr. Jordan authorized campus police to begin arresting protesters who were blocking the entrances. D.C. police took custody of 133 protesters who were arrested and took them to a holding facility, where they paid a $50 fine and were released.

The protests against Mrs. Fernandes and the presidential-search process have garnered national attention, with deaf communities from Fremont, Calif., to Denmark rallying their support for Gallaudet protesters.

On Sunday, the president of the National Association of the Deaf came to the campus to express support for the protesters. She said the protesters should not have been arrested.

In a written statement, Bobbie Beth Scoggins implored the university’s Board of Trustees, who chose Mrs. Fernandes in May, to practice good leadership and address the crisis.

“Proactive and decisive intervention by leaders on the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees is sorely needed,” Miss Scoggins said.

The Board of Trustees issued its own written statement Sunday, asserting its continued support for Mrs. Fernandes.

“All board members have received messages from people suggesting that we could end this apparent impasse by asking Dr. Fernandes to resign,” the statement read. “The board will not do that.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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