National Deaf Group Objects to Arrests at Deaf University

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Since the close of the school year last spring, students have been occupying a tent city on the campus of Gallaudet University, the nation’s only university for the deaf, located in northeastern Washington, D.C. The protests, which have escalated since students began occupying a classroom building on October 6, began when provost Jane K. Fernandes was chosen to become the university’s next president. She is to replace I. King Jordan, who in 1988 became the first deaf president to lead Gallaudet, in January.

During King’s tenure, deafness has made tremendous strides toward being considered a culture, with sign language as its root, rather than a disability. Deaf culture and sign language have flourished to such a degree that a new medical procedure to restore partial hearing has met with strong resistance from some. King is credited with much of that progress. Fernandes is deaf, but learned ASL as a second language at age 23, and protestors don’t think the former provost is the right person to represent deaf culture to the world. They have also claimed that she is cold and aloof and that qualified African-American candidates for the presidency were overlooked. The faculty gave Fernandes a vote of no confidence in May.

Last week, a group of 200 students, faculty and staff took control of a classroom building. The football team then blocked the campus entrance, causing the university to shut down. On Friday, dozens of protestors were arrested after Jordan, who is still acting president, gave the go-ahead. The Washington Post, which has been covering the story, reports today that the president of the National Association of the Deaf arrived on campus yesterday and criticized the arrests. The campus has reopened, but Fernandes is still refusing to resign.

For more coverage of campus activism, see Mother Jones‘s 13th annual roundup of campus activism in the current issue, or online.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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