Priorities? What are Gallaudet’s Priorities?

The purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences.” ~ Ruth Benedict (famous Deaf anthropologist)

The leading sentence in a news item from Gallaudet’s PR office is:

The Gallaudet campus brings together people who are hearing, deaf, native signers, new signers, and many others in between.

The article is about a campus wide dialogue – Communication at Gallaudet: Building an Inclusive and Respectful Communication Climate initiative

So lets look at what gets communicated in the very first sentence of this press release which if not actually written by Catherine Murphy (formerly of AG Bell Associations) (remember the AG Bell letter to Pepsi folks?) must have passed her desk as PR chief at Gally before it was unleashed.

What is being COMMUNICATED in that first sentence in terms of priorities?

just asking

and i aint the only one asking

and a couple of other questions cuz we be thinking chaps –

Would Howard University release a statement that said:

  • The Howard campus brings together people who are white, black, ebonic users, new to ebonics, and many others in between.

Would Brandeis University (a predominantly Jewish College and Jewish Centered) release a statement that said:

  • The Brandeis campus brings together people who are gentile, Jewish, Hebrew speakers, new speakers, and many others in between.

would Haskell Indian Nations University release a statement that said:

  • The Haskell campus brings together people who are white, native, native speakers, new native speakers, and many others in between.

Would Spelman University (a historically Black college and a global leader in the education of women of African descent) release a statement that said:

  • The Spelman campus brings together people who are white males, white females, black males, and black females and many others in between.

And its kinda odd how the Gallaudet news item mostly seems to be talking about racial and ethnic diversity and not about communication “options” despite how the opening statement wants to spin and frame the event.

There are some quotes from folks that actually say very little at all.  Odd eh?  but the gist of the WHOLE write up is of human diversity more than “communication diversity” soooooo???

why the prioritizing of HEARING in the first sentence?

I ain’t got no problem with Hearing folks – i come from them, i sleep with one of them, i created some of them.  They are GOOD folks.  I do have a wee problem with:

– why a Hearing person was hired as PR specialist for Gally when she was formerly paid to propagate AG Bell’s oral-aural-ONLY stance and when there are many Deaf folks who would do mighty fine for the job of PR.  Certainly they would do better than Catherine has done thus far.  Also, there is that wittle notion of “Nothing about us, without us” so who better to be the SPOKESPERSON for Gally than a DEAF PERSON hmmmmm – is it because some Deaf folks dont speak that one was not chosen?  Is the administration and board still so loyal to the notion that to be Hearing (see the first type of folk listed in the news release) and/or to behave as a Hearing person is superior to being Deaf?  oh gosh i hope not.  please oh gosh i totally hope not – cuz that would be Audism – yep the A word folks and that there is a #itch.  In some quarters u r not even allowed to utter that word and if u do – u can only do so if u misspell it.  I kid u not.

hmmmm lets see if Ms. Catherine Murphy ever covers anything re: audism for Gally – like maybe the film that Gallaudet produced called AUDISM UNVEILED – it would be mighty cool to see if she can spell it right.  That would COMMUNICATE a great deal about diversity would it not (geez they could have spared the whole work that day and just shown the movie and had a rap session cuz that film is DIVERSITY personified and COMMUNICATION personified – that documentary features Deaf folks from ALL walks of life signing their TRUTHS – but nah lets pass out a bunch of bracelets and spin it to be progress!  I am NOT dissing u the students who did so much organizing and leading and wanting and dreaming – i love u and im glad u did it.  I am talking about the PRESS RELEASE and what it is communicating and how it is diminishing and undermining ur efforts and intents – that!  u is fine Students – keep shining and keep pushing.  Love the Hearing folks on ur campus and LOVE yourselves and Gally will get some where.  Oh and Love Catherine and tell her to do the right thing and not misrepresent what u all are about.)

– why the news about Gally’s diversity efforts list HEARING first!

i dont want Hearing folks ignored, squashed upon, trod upon, spit upon but i do know that in Cultural studies and egalitarian systems folks work to prioritize the folks who have been the most oppressed so its just a very ODD choice by gally to be prioritizing Hearing as diversity

ya all do know u r the majority still dont ya?

and having one wee campus where u r not – is actually gonna help u cuz when we liberate ourselves we liberate u from being oppressors and then TRUE diversity can emerge instead of immersion

its a good thing

ohh and the other ODD item – the chopping of the Deaf Studies: Deaf History masters – that is mighty dangerous Gallaudet

mighty dangerous

we cant change our history if we dont know it!

(see Jeff Roberts’ excellent writing re: EMGallaudet and Clerc’s take on this decision)

ohh and the chopping of the Deaf Theatre major – that is mighty dangerous Gallaudet

mighty dangerous

cuz that there could be a honey pot – it could be the place (if coupled with media production) in which what is UNIQUE about Deaf ASL folks shines and spreads and wows the masses

heye – gally did u know that ASL is on its way to being the 3rd most popular language studied in colleges?

did u know that Deaf cultural studies is being gobbled up by the masses?

did u know that Deaf cinema is gonna break through soon (no thanks to u if u keep this up)

and where will u be gally – passing out braclets that mean NOTHING????

im sorry for my tone Gally

but i love ya and i really dont like how u r spinning things

I know dr. hurwitz and that there release is not what he is hoping to foster at Gallaudet

i know cuz i seen how hard he worked at NTID and i know he V A L U E S signing in public spaces – so Gally PR folks – why didnt u write that up, huh, huh, huh?  Why didnt u explain that Gally campus is a DEAF ASL campus and all are welcome and “We Sign Here!”

plain and simple

dont take a bloody brain surgeon to state the truth

ahhhh hmmmm maybe that is the problem – they dont want to state that truth!

odd, eh?




21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Karen Mayes
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 13:18:20

    At first I was not sure what you were saying until you pointed out a few other colleges (Brandeis and Haskell) and I got what you meant by priorities… Gallaudet should have simply said “deaf” first before “hearing”, since it was established to serve deaf peoople… not the other way around.


  2. nicole r crouse-dickerson
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 15:33:32

    I agree that the order of the groups in the press release is odd, the mission of Gallaudet is to educate Deaf people first and foremost, or am I mistaken?

  3. Don G.
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 16:45:33

    Isn’t Spelman a Black college also? You meant Vassar or Wellesley, perhaps?

    Other than that, nice post! Isn’t Gallaudet supposed to be “Gallaudet University FOR the Deaf”?

  4. duane
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 20:17:42


    Just want to correct you in one area – Spelman College is a historically black college originally for Black women and is located in Atlanta, GA. But it is for women only. A press release like that would have them up in arms!

    I agree this particular PR review is awful. I am appalled that much have not changed since President Jordan was there.

    The mindset that I think you are trying to stated is that there should be more Deaf leaders especially at Gallaudet University. Feel free to correct me if I wrong please.

    I myself have nothing against Hearing people, as I am the sole one Deaf person in my family tree. I feel that it is Gallaudet University’s mission to trained Deaf people to become professionals. Hiring hearing people at Gallaudet University that are not sensitive to the Deaf culture experience is a big disservice to the students and an insult to the Deaf culture considering the fact that Gally is the Deaf Mecca.

  5. InsaneMisha
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 20:18:25

    Wow, it’s somewhat ignorance on part in the first sentence. That is not truly Gally’s real priority. That is really screwed up. Really!
    If this continues on and on, we may need to remind Gally what that college institution is all about. If that reminder is being ignored, we may need to do something before Gally will go to into the pot.
    Let’s see see


  6. Trackback: Deafhood Discussions » Priorities – What are Gallaudet’s Priorities?
  7. Jean Boutcher
    Mar 08, 2011 @ 00:57:12

    Is Brandeis University for the Jews financially supported by the Federal?

  8. PopeMistress
    Mar 08, 2011 @ 01:47:49

    Hello Patti! Hope you will contact Alan Hurwitz + try ask him what is going on? I don’t know what is Dr Alan Hurwitz’s mind inside?? Possible it is Josh Swiller not Catherine Murphy??? I don’t know! Go see Ridor9th’s video link:

  9. handeyes
    Mar 08, 2011 @ 12:15:55

    heye all

    thanks for ur comments

    Jean – im not sure of Brandeis funding – i know its origins were very Jewish centric because antisemitism was still very strong in U.S. academia – quotas and caps for Jewish people in medical schools and some universities would not hire Jewish people as professors etc. It seems to have been more of an OF, by and for initiative. Some of the other programs were FOR and not so much of and by and i suspect got more govt funding and dominant culture controlling

    just a hunch. there is probably some paper or book out there examining this but unlikely to included “the forgotten people” Gally etc

    Im still very puzzled why Gallaudet would have lead that write up with that ordering – as someone pointed out it is not even alphabetical as D would become H and i truly have never seen anything like that from other unique programs



  10. Jean Boutcher
    Mar 08, 2011 @ 18:00:34


    According to Google, Brandeis University, founded by Jews, is a private research university, neither operated or funded by the Federal government. Since Gallaudet is a Federally-operated university; therefore, no bias or prejudice at Gallaudet can be tolerated.

  11. Dianrez
    Mar 10, 2011 @ 00:44:14

    I re-read that from the vantage of a Hearing outsider. My thought: “Huh? It’s a university for the deaf, or isn’t it?” That confusion would lead me to think that maybe it is a college where hearing people could go where there also happens to be support for deaf students “if they need it”.

    Is this the future direction of Gallaudet? To become a hearing-deaf college just to stay financially viable? The way “talking spaces” are developing, discussion about supporting oral, Cued Speech and alternative communication users, and controversies arising about whether ASL is the language of the campus, we should be asking questions about the university’s priorities and its view of the future.

    Does the Deaf community have a right to ask for a cultural repository where development and dissemination of Deaf thought, literature, language, research and arts are top priority? Or are we being asked to consider a future of cultureless assimiliation with hearing society?

  12. Joseph Pietro Riolo
    Mar 12, 2011 @ 19:09:49

    Out of curiosity and rather than making any assumptions, I decided to ask Gallaudet University’s Office of Public and Media Relations. Below is the email that I sent to the office last Monday (March 7th):

    [start of message]

    from: Joseph Pietro Riolo
    cc: Joseph Pietro Riolo
    date: Mon, Mar 7, 2011 at 6:09 PM
    subject: Any particular reason in listing hearing first in the first sentence?


    One blogger noticed that the first sentence at
    mentioned hearing first in the list of different characteristics
    of people: “The Gallaudet campus brings together people
    who are hearing, deaf, native signers, new signers, and
    many others in between.”

    This is a bit unusual because Gallaudet University was
    established for the deaf students. So, it is expected
    to see deaf as the first thing in the list. Is there any
    particular reason why hearing is mentioned before


    Joseph Pietro Riolo

    [end of message]

    Much to my surprise, I actually got a reply from Ms. Catherine Murphy two days later on March 9th. I did not ask for her permission to quote her email here and so, I cannot quote anything from her email. But, the gist of her email is that there was no particular reason for listing “hearing” first and that the different kinds listed in the first sentence were only examples of diversity. I am content with her explanation and I thanked her for her response.

    Joseph Pietro Riolo

  13. handeyes
    Mar 13, 2011 @ 00:03:25

    jean i aint advocating for bias or prejudice – some of the other colleges listed in the blog entry do get Federal funding and can still maintain their focus on the underrepresented group they are serving as well as allies who attend so….

    i do thank u for looking up the stuff about Brandeis – did u see the stuff about Einstein – pretty interesting, eh?



  14. handeyes
    Mar 13, 2011 @ 00:08:39

    Dianrez –

    yep it is ODD – im assuming that the PR folks listed Hearing folks first cuz that is the first thing that comes to their mind? or that is their priority audience or the dont know the alphabet well or…
    who knows but below ur comment Joseph says that Catherine Murphy (Gally PR chief) says that there was no particular reason for leading with Hearing

    again ODD

    cuz pr folks r supposed to pay attention to this stuff and she is AWARE of folks concerns about her past work promoting oral / aural-ONLY

    so why she would write up a press release about a Communication happy-happy fest at gally and lead with HEARING and never mention ASL

    just seems like might bad PR to me

    if she is AWARE of folks concerns – u would think she would want to PROVE / DEMONSTRATE / VERIFY her commitment to Gally’s roots and wings but nahhhhh
    no particular reason


    re: “cultural repository where development and dissemination of Deaf thought, literature, language, research and arts are top priority”

    wow that looks lovely – me wanna see that big time



  15. handeyes
    Mar 13, 2011 @ 00:30:05


    thanks for sharing. i very much appreciate that u asked Cahterine Murphy why she put “hearing” first.

    While you are content with her reply that basically stated: there was no particular reason for listing “hearing” first

    to me this is more alarming than if she had done it with some rationale or purpose – why? well because she already stated elsewhere that she was “especially interested in promoting public awareness and positive depictions of deaf individuals in the media. There is a lot this community has to offer that I think is far too often overlooked.”

    Seems to me as a PR person with a background of working to promote an oral-aural-ONLY agency who changes ship to work for a bilingual-bicultural Institution and is aware that some folks question her selection, she would endeavor to look at anything going out of her office from a possible Deaf lens – how folks in the community might be perceiving things and KNOW that it wasn’t wise, just or good to lead with “HEARING” and neglect to mention ASL as one of Gallys very unique features of diversity

    sooo while u may be content Joseph – with no disrespect, i think perhaps u do a disserve to Ms. Murphy, Gallaudet and our community in being so easily satisfied

    we be jumping at da sun!

    i do thank u again for sharing. its important and telling stuff

    much peace,


    “From the first years to which my memory stretches I have been a disappointed woman. … In education, in marriage, in religion, in everything disappointment is the lot of women. It shall be the business of my life to deepen this disappointment in every woman’s heart until she bows down to it no longer.”

    -Lucy Stone, Speech, National Woman’s Rights Convention, Cincinnati 1855

  16. Jean Boutcher
    Mar 13, 2011 @ 01:29:50

    Maybe out of a Freudian slip, she thinks that Gallaudet was estabished BY hearing American TAXpayers. Deaf American were not

  17. Dianrez
    Mar 13, 2011 @ 02:06:41

    I’m personally disappointed in the reply to Joseph’s inquiry, and unlike him, I’m not too content.

    A PR person needs to be sensitive to the audience that she is advocating for; the Gallaudet community who happens to be for, of and by Deaf people. And by extension, the wider Deaf community and its associated peoples.

    Coming from a historically opposing oral organization, Ms. Murphy should know that it has political and emotional implications and be sensitive to anything that appears as if Hearing characteristics are paramount.

    Let’s cut Ms. Murphy a little slack. She’s new, she’s not that familiar with Deaf identity considerations, and she committed a typically Hearing faux pas. Let’s hope that Dr. Hurwitz sits down with her and has an interesting, informative chat about respecting the culturally Deaf community.

  18. Trackback: ‘no particular reason’ huh? « PEOPLE OF THE EYE -…first, last, and all the time” – g. veditz 1910
  19. deafa
    Mar 13, 2011 @ 17:39:47

    Yeah, I am not too fond of closing deaf studies. Its like denying to learn about deaf history especially when my deaf great aunts are part of that history (and sign languages).

  20. Doan Pham Khiem
    May 01, 2011 @ 12:13:00

    I’m sorry you more! I would like to find scholarships that you please help me. Since I have been unemployed for me to study the U.S.! Deaf since Vietnam has not developed a strong effort should I try and want to learn sign language, business administration and education are many. If I left Gallaudet University and I will return to teach and help the Deaf and a lot of knowledge. Deaf to signify a person because I love Vietnam. Deaf people who wish to set up at the Deaf Association of Ho Chi Minh City, so I will write a letter sent by the Government of Vietnam. But not afford to buy land for the Deaf Association of the Deaf school in Ho Chi Minh City. Because of poor Deaf and can not work. I am very sad too. I decided Deaf much enthusiasm. Deaf people may be due to the high school. I did not find any school High School. I tried to study the University ….
    I ask that you please allow me introduce it?
    My name is Pham Khiem Doan
    I studied the 2nd year of university in Vietnam. because I was required to pass university in 2009. In my family only my mother. My family was very poor too! I wish that I want America to study my future will help teach the Deaf and Vietnam. You understand?
    I respect you more.
    I thank you very much
    son Pham Khiem (Deaf )
    email : doanphamkhiem.deaf ( at )

  21. handeyes
    May 17, 2011 @ 19:36:27

    Pham Khiem

    I hope you are able to contact Gallaudet and also look into some of the programs in Vietnam and China

    I wish you all the best.



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