Protesters at School for Deaf Arrested
Saturday, October 14, 2006; 12:24 AM
WASHINGTON -- At least two dozen people were arrested Friday night as students continued to block the entrance to the nation's only liberal arts university for the deaf and hearing-impaired in a protest over its incoming president.
Hundreds of Gallaudet University students have blocked access to campus buildings since Wednesday, and the incoming president has refused to step aside. Classes were canceled for a third day Friday.
The school's outgoing president, I. King Jordan, said he regretted authorizing the arrests but felt he had no other choice.
"Gallaudet University has exhausted all means of communication and negotiation with those who have disrupted the university's educational processes and held the campus hostage to their demands," he said in a statement.
A large group of students and some faculty members are demanding the resignation of Jane K. Fernandes, who was appointed in the spring to succeed Jordan in January.
Fernandes has said some people do not consider her "deaf enough" to be president. 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.
The protesters and the administration had been trying to negotiate a settlement.
"President designate Jane K. Fernandes had a meeting with some students today, but apparently it wasn't successful," university spokeswoman Mercy Coogan said Friday night.
After warning students three times and shining floodlights on them, university Department of Public Safety employees began arresting people one by one. Those arrested went limp and were carried to a police van.
After each arrest, another protester took the empty place on the blockade line.
Hundreds of protesters were behind the police line, some standing on top of buildings, and others hanging out of windows.
"We have a lot of support," said Adam Jarashow, a recent graduate. "If our cause is just, we have nothing to worry about."