Fernandes Takes Your Questions at Post

Incoming (and embattled) Gallaudet University President Jane Fernandes will be doing a Washington Post chat at 2pm today, about 30 minutes hence. It’s one of her first public interviews since this latest round of protests has heated up and closed the University. There’s bound to be material aplenty for Fernandes, but feel free to get your questions in. When the chat’s done, we’ll have a summation of her comments.

The interview’s over, and the results are in. Check in the extended answers for important snippets and analysis.

The questions focused significantly on the protest movement and its missions, which she directed most of her attention toward. Specifically, she singled out the protestors lack of flexibility on their two demands (her departure, and amnesty for those involved in the protests), which she deemed short-sighted. Specifically, though, she targeted the protestors demands:

I know there are two demands — I resign and no reprisals. But a protest has to be FOR something, so I want to LISTEN to those involved. I want you to tell me what you are FOR.

This has been one thing that has struck me all along, the protestors aren’t protesting for anything at all, they’re just attempting to have another choice made, instead of protesting for a specific alternative, they’ll take any alternative. Another questioner wrote, “I was surprised to see you refer to the student protesters as “terrorists.” Do you stand by that characterization?” to which Fernandes recanted a small bit from her previous standpoint, but made a more educated response than I would have expected from a total reactionary:

I used the word anarchy to describe the protest. It is clear to me that the protesters are giving a total lack of attention to established rules of order.

I also used the word terrorism. Perhaps it would have been better to use words like “discord,” “tumult,” “riot,” and “insubordination.” The dissenters at Gallaudet have demonstrated a complete disregard for social order. They have blocked gates and not allowed deaf children to get their education at Kendall School. They have locked down a building and not allowed university graduate and undergraduate students to get their education and barred faculty and staff from their offices. Students who do not support the protest, of which there are plenty, are being threatend. Terms negotiated in good faith are being revoked. An image of me has been burned in effigy. My family has been stalked. There have been threats on myself and my family.

From my position, there is nothing peaceful about this protest.

Clearly, she’s taking it personally, and I’d expect you would, too…

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