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Jun 1, 2023
National Deaf Life Museum
The Deaf President Now (DPN...
Tim Rarus, ’88, most experienced of the “Gallaudet four”
Tim Rarus, a government major from Arizona, was the most politically experienced of the “Gallaudet four,” the students who quickly rose to leadership positions during the DPN protest.
The other three were Greg Hlibok, Jerry Covell, and Bridgetta Bourne. As the outgoing Student Body Government president, he had served on the search committee for the new president of Gallaudet and was well-versed in the events that led up to DPN.
Rarus has always been remembered as one of the most outspoken students. Bourne said this of him in a 1988 newspaper interview: “He always chooses the strongest words. He’s not afraid of anyone.”
Tim Rarus comes from four generations of deaf family members. A graduate of Arizona School for the Deaf, he went to Gallaudet University to get his bachelor’s degree in government. His first job leaving Gallaudet was working for Senator John McCain as a staff assistant and advising the senator on disability and ADA issues.
Tim has enjoyed a long career combining his love for advocacy with business. He worked with Communication Services for the Deaf (CSD) implementing interpreting services in Austin, Texas and eventually he also began running the video relay services before the FCC mandated it. Eventually Tim relocated to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to become vice president of the CSD’s video relay services.
Today Tim is vice president of sales for ZVRS and he continues to work to expand video services and access to deaf people nationwide. Tim lives with his wife Brandi and their four children in Austin, Texas. His three sons are hearing and his daughter, the youngest, is deaf.
Deaf President Now (DPN) represented much more than the birth of our first Deaf president. It represented Deaf People Now and their freedom. Freedom from ignorance. Freedom from being oppressed. It made me very proud to be a Deaf American.
DPN has left me with many memories but I will share two of my favorites. The first happened Sunday night during our march to the Mayflower Hotel to talk with the Board of Trustees. We marched through the streets of the District of Columbia without a permit. A policewoman who tried to stop us by using a megaphone. We kept on marching and the D.C. police realized they had a new challenge on their hands.
The second is a memory which was a lesson for me personally. It was the same lesson that DPN taught Deaf people everywhere. The night Zinser resigned, we had been told that the police were now going to take control of the campus. We still had 3 1/2 demands left to go, so we were nowhere near finished.
To prevent the police from breaking through the Gallaudet gates, we needed to put a Gallaudet bus next to them because we knew the police wouldn’t damage the school vehicles which were federal property. We didn’t have the key to the bus I was working on. We were in a hurry.
One Gallaudet student approached me… I’d never met him before… he was “oral” and hadn’t mastered ASL. He had on a black leather jacket and long hair and was from New York City. He told me he could “hot wire” the Gallaudet bus and that he did.
I tell this story because before DPN, I was not one to interact with deaf people who were not culturally deaf like myself. Deaf people have a history of fighting among themselves. Yet, during DPN, we all worked together for that common goal: a deaf president. Never mind the mode of communication our president would choose or his background, as long as he was deaf. And together we accomplished that goal.
Since DPN, Deaf America has seen changes-the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Closed Captioning bill, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and most importantly, the attitude of ” Yes, I can” being adopted by deaf children and adults everywhere.
The fight is not over, we will always need to strive for equality in our world. Yet, we have started that journey. And today as we continue to carry our torch, Deaf President Now symbolizes Deaf People Now. I am proud to be a Deaf American.
Bridgetta Bourne-Firl Student Activist Jerry Covell Student Activist Greg Hlibok Student Activist Tim Rarus Student Activist Phil Bravin Board Member Elisabeth Zinser Hearing Presidential Candidate Jane Spilman Board chairperson President's Council on Deafness Special Advisory Group Jerry C. Lee Former President Dr. I. King Jordan...
Resource Type: History
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