Not [Blank] Enough

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While it makes sense that, for example, an atheist would not be an acceptable candidate for the presidency of a Catholic seminary, where exactly does the line get drawn? And who draws it? If there are certain beliefs/traits/physiological characteristics that define one's fitness for a certain position, who decides if the candidate is [blank] enough to fill the job?

This is an interesting case. Gallaudet University is the number one college in the US, probably the entire world, that serves the deaf. This is what it was founded for, this is what it has done all these years. Yet, for the second time in fairly recent years, the students of Gallaudet have blocked the appointment of a president. The rejected candidate says that this is because she did not learn American Sign Language until she was in her 20s.

WASHINGTON – The board of trustees of the nation's premier school for the deaf voted Sunday to terminate the appointment of the incoming president, who had been the subject of protests, the board announced.

The vote at Gallaudet University came after a daylong closed-door meeting that followed a month of protests by students and faculty members. Jane Fernandes, the school's former provost, had been selected in May to take office in January.

"Although undoubtedly there will be some members of the community who have differing views on the meaning of this decision, we believe that it is a necessity at this point," the board said in a written statement.

Fernandes did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Protesters had said Fernandes, 50, was a divisive and ineffective leader as provost. They said the board ignored surveys by students and faculty during the presidential search that called her "unacceptable." The faculty voted this month, 82 percent to 18 percent, for Fernandes to resign or be removed.

Fernandes had refused to resign, saying it would hurt the university to allow protests to determine the school's leadership. She said she had become a lightning rod for those frustrated about changes in deaf culture because she hadn't learned to use American Sign Language until she was in her 20s.

Celebrations broke out on campus when the decision was announced. Professor Diane Morton, who joined protesters for a rally at the university gymnasium, said students were "elated" when protest leaders received the e-mailed announcement.

"The leaders made it very clear that her resignation is not the end," Morton said. "We still need to make sure that the presidential search process is fair, equitable, transparent and diverse."

I post about this not because I have any ill feelings toward deaf persons. I know several quite well (and plan to ask them about this, in fact). But I wonder where the line gets drawn. For example, substitute white or black into the 'enough' question. Substitute religious or non-religious. Substitute anything for anything. Then ask if the question sounds right. Then take a look at what happened at Gallaudet. Is it democracy or mob rule? Who decides that someone is not [blank] enough and why?

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One Response to Not [Blank] Enough

  1. Kid (wait a minute… who’m I calling “kid” since you’re maybe older than me?)….

    Dude. (that’s better)
    I like your “substitute” line of thought. I remember, round about a year ago, Gallaudet getting all up in arms about a previous prez selection, and my first thought was “why the hell are they even arguing about this? It’s supposed to be about whether the clown can do the job or not.”

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