Minutes of the University Faculty

Special Meeting of 9 March 1988

This special meeting was called to discuss the sequence of events growing out of the recent presidential selection process. Pre-college faculty were also present, seated in separate areas, and voting independently of the University faculty. Media coverage was much in evidence at this emotionally-charged meeting. First-person accounts of recently breaking events, as well as the introduction of unsubstantiated testimonials, marked this extraordinary session. Mark Weinberg volunteered to take minutes in the absence of the secretary of the faculty; since the services of a secretary were not requested until ten minutes or so into the meeting, recordation of events occurring early on may be fragmentary.

The meeting opened with the dissemination of information on the part of the Chair and several other interested parties, all of who were privy to events that were considered of importance to the membership. Several objections were voiced regarding information shared that was viewed by some as biased, and the chair was at one point asked to step down. The body did not sustain these objections, and Chairman Reynolds continued to conduct the meeting.

Information provided by a variety of speakers included the following:

  • A recapitulation of the Senate’s role in the presidential search process; apparently the Senate sent Dr. Zinser’s name on to the search committee with an extremely high rating;
  • A reminder that many groups on campus came forth with a strong recommendation of Dr. Zinser to the Board, and that the Board’s decision was not at all capricious;
  • The transcript of a letter written by Harvey Corson was adduced; this document stated that Dr. Corson supported Dr. Zinser’s assuming the presidency; questions arose, however, as to whether the letter was timely (it bore no date) or whether in fact it was even authentic;
  • Marin Allen provided a first-person narration of events occurring at a noon-time press conference. Dr. Zinser was attempting to act very presidential and indicated to the press that she was having serious negotiations with student representatives; in fact, negotiations were almost non-existent. At the same press conference, King Jordan expressed his support for Dr. Zinser, but his appearance and manner would have led one to question whether he was truly speaking his mind. Allen also recounted how Mrs. Spilman attempted to explain away the much-quoted derogatory remark about the deaf that was attributed to her.
  • Harvey Goodstein described a morning meeting on Capitol Hill with Reps. Gunderson and Bonior, both of whom serve on the Gallaudet Board, as well as with a staffer in Sen. Inouye’s office. A group of campus representatives met with these individuals to apprise them of recent events on campus; all expressed serious concern with the issues at hand. Goodstein also described how Steve Hlibok, SBG president, had to leave the Hill meeting in order to be present at the noon-time press conference; at that time, he got Dr. Zinser to commit herself to the 3rd and 4th of the demands, namely those regarding deaf representation on the board and the withholding of reprisals for activities related to the demonstration. When she would not accede to the first two demands, Greg walked out, telling Dr. Zinser: “You do not exist in our world.”
  • Wilton McMilton, assistant dean of students at MSSD, took the floor to report that several administrators are being coerced into refraining from supporting the strike.
  • The Faculty then proceeded to consider several resolutions, the first four of which were introduced and explained by Truman Stelle. Their content might be summarized as follows:
    • No. 1: Called for the resignation of Jane Bassett Spilman from the Gallaudet board; a detailed rationale was provided with the motion. [Motion PASSED with 147 for, 5 opposed]
    • No. 2: Called for the reconstitution of the Gallaudet Board of Trustees, with increased representation for the deaf. [Motion REPLACED with alternate, presented by Robert C. Johnson, see below.]
    • Nos. 3 and 4: Withdrawn
  • Robert C. Johnson proceeded to present the following resolutions:
    • No. 1: Addressed to the Board of Trustees, replaced motion no. 2 above, calling for reconstitution of the Board with 51% or more deaf membership; additionally, it proposed that the seventh president of Gallaudet be hearing-impaired; it reiterated the need for the resignation of Mrs. Spilman from the Board; it requested no reprisals against faculty, staff, students or administrators. This resolution closely paralleled the students’ four demands. [PASSED with 136 for, 11 opposed]
    • No. 2: Addressed to the Faculty, requested their cooperation in not penalizing students for missing class during recent events; also asked them to do whatever necessary to enable students to complete their academic work. [PASSED; see exhibit C, attached]
  • Jeff Lewis reported that the students were requesting that the Faculty send three representatives to a steering committee that was being formed for the purpose of facilitating communications among various groups on campus; this would not be a decision-making body. The following were elected:
    • Lynn Sterling (pre-college)
    • Harvey Goodstein (main campus)
    • Flo Vold (NW campus)
    • [Jeff Lewis: alternate]
  • Lynn Sterling voiced concern about not having free access to the campus to attend meetings of this committee; ingress and egress will have to be facilitated.
  • Shirley Stein wanted to know when business would return to normal on campus, and who was responsible for making this decision? It was suggested to her that the time was not yet ripe for a return to normalcy; the campus community is waiting for the requested changes to occur.
  • John Schuchman reported that students who did not support the strike were being intimidated. Freedom of expression and tolerance of diverging views was requested for students and all other members of the Gallaudet community.
  • Angel Ramos thanked the faculty for their generous contributions to the Deaf President Now fund. The fund is welcoming further donations; should tax deductibility be necessary, checks may be made out to the N.A.D., earmarking them specifically for the fund.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:38 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,
Mark Weinberg
Acting Secretary

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