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Correction to This Article
A photo caption with an Oct. 14 article incorrectly said that the photograph showed a 1998 protest at Gallaudet University. The protest, one of the demonstrations that led to the hiring of I. King Jordan as the university's president, was in 1988.

Gallaudet Reopens With Protesters Still At Front Gates

Gloria Mills rests near the gates of Gallaudet University during continued protests. Many have vowed to camp out there until Jane K. Fernandes resigns.
Gloria Mills rests near the gates of Gallaudet University during continued protests. Many have vowed to camp out there until Jane K. Fernandes resigns. (By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)

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By Susan Kinzie and Mary Otto
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, October 15, 2006

Gallaudet University reopened yesterday, the morning after 133 protesters were arrested to break up a three-day shutdown of the nationally renowned school for the deaf over the choice of Jane K. Fernandes to be president.

Although the arrests resolved the immediate crisis, the university remains as deeply fractured as it ever has been, and no one sees the reopening as an end to the bitter confrontation with the school's leadership.

Last night, about 1,000 protesters stood shoulder to shoulder from the front gates of the school in Northeast Washington up a hill to Chapel Hall. Fernandes remains the target of their wrath. But the current president, I. King Jordan, who has been hailed as a heroic symbol of deaf accomplishment, is now viewed by many as a traitor for ordering the arrests by campus police.

"We can't believe King had us arrested," said sophomore Calvin Doudt, standing in the autumn sunshine yesterday amid a group of protesters. "We are his students."

The protesters are encouraging Gallaudet students not to return to classes tomorrow, when they are scheduled to resume.

"We will not quit until our demands are met, period," said Andrew Lange, head of the alumni association.

As supporters brought boxes of ramen noodles and Pop-Tarts for protesters camped out by the gates, faculty leaders sent a letter to the board of trustees demanding trustees come to campus immediately.

"This has escalated beyond the administration's control," professor Khadijat Rashid said.

The resentment toward Fernandes has been building for a long time. Some former employees at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center on Gallaudet's campus are still upset about her leadership there a decade ago, saying she created an atmosphere of distrust. Some professors are still unhappy they were not consulted about her appointment as provost six years ago.

And some black students and staff members were upset by the presidential search process, which eliminated a strong African American candidate in favor of three white people.

When Fernandes was named in May, the protests started immediately. Since then, many have complained that the board of trustees has continued to ignore their concerns.

Fernandes's supporters, including Jordan, say she has proved her abilities to lead the campus, to make it a place welcoming to all types of deafness.


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