Audio Transcript

Interview with Gallaudet Student and Faculty Member

Wednesday, October 18, 2006; 1:44 PM

Washington Post Radio's Mike Moss interviewed Gallaudet University student LaToya Plummer and professor Jeff Lewis.

Mike Moss: Well good morning and glad to have you with us. Homecoming events here at Gallaudet University here in D.C. are postponed as protesters are continuing to block some of the entrances to the Northeast D.C. campus. The university's homecoming football game was scheduled for Saturday night against Walter Reed. University President I. King Jordan has released a statement expressing disappointment in the no confidence vote from the faculty. The protesters have been forming human barricades at the campus gates in protest of the selection of Jane Fernandes as the incoming president of the university. That would be something that would take place January 1st. Now with us this morning through their sign language interpreters are LaToya Plummer, a student at Gallaudet University, and one of the faculty members, Dr. Jeff Lewis, who's with us as well. I want to thank you both for joining us here on Washington Post Radio. And let me talk to Dr. Lewis first, if I can. Dr. Lewis, this situation seems to be getting in the way of the whole process of education. What can you make of it? What is happening at Gallaudet?

Dr. Lewis: It has been a very difficult time at Gallaudet University. Classes are still continuing, and I am teaching my classes, in fact. And the other faculty members are teaching their classes as well. Many of the students have been trying to attend the classes although it's a difficult period of time to focus in class during those times. So, what we're doing is the best that we can at this current time.

Mike Moss: LaToya Plummer is a student at Gallaudet. LaToya, what are you protesting?

Plummer: What am I protesting? Well, the protest is all about a flawed process for the selection of the next president. It's not only that but the lack of leadership capabilities that we've seen in Dr. Fernandes over the last 11 years. And that includes, you know, addressing other issues of racism and audism, and many other issues involved in this protest that students are very concerned about. Management by intimidation is a concern for all of us, and all of these issues are what is caused us to protest here at Gallaudet University.

Mike Moss: Dr. Lewis, what is it about Jane Fernandes that people are so up in arms about?

Dr. Lewis: Well, when she was selected as the provost six years ago, she was appointed without the appropriate faculty involvement. The president appointed her instead of appointing a search committee to go through this process. He has apologized for this, and the faculty at that time was not supportive of the appointment and of the process. In the six years that she's been leading the university as provost, her record has not been impressive.

Mike Moss: Now, LaToya Plummer, as a student, when does all of this end? Will the protests continue up until a point that there is someone other than Jane Fernandes named as the incoming president at Gallaudet?

Plummer: It will not end until she resigns or she is removed from this position.

Mike Moss: Now what about, LaToya, if she digs in? I mean she told me the other morning when I talked with her that she had no intention at all of resigning. So what happens? Is this just a continuing standoff to see who blinks?

Plummer: Well, we are going to have the board of trustees here, Congress people here. We will not give up. The support continues to grow. We have the idea in our mind that she will resign or be removed. I mean, this is a worldwide protest. This not just the Gallaudet community. People around the world have joined with us.

Mike Moss: Doctor Lewis, have you ever had an opportunity to sit down with Jane Fernandes? Have you done that? Have you talked with her?

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