Thursday, May 22, 2008

Letter from the Faculty of the Center for Deaf Studies Ohlone College

Dear Alan

It is with sadness we find it necessary to send this letter to inform you of our decision to cease doing business with NTID. As an educational institution committed to cultural pluralism, we feel it is important to stand united with individuals and groups whose goal is to eliminate any vestige of oppression and discrimination against all disenfranchised groups. For this reason, we find it intolerable that NTID chose to continue to honor an extremist whose life-long work in the areas of eugenics and deafness counters the ideals of a multi-cultural society.

Attached please find the resolution which was unanimously supported by the faculty of the Center for Deaf Studies at Ohlone. Until NTID removes the name of Alexander Graham Bell from the building, the Center for Deaf Studies will no longer conduct business as usual with NTID.


Faculty of the Center for Deaf Studies
Ohlone College

cc: Orange Brown Coalition

Resolution attachment:

Whereas Alexander Graham Bell is considered an extremist in the history of deaf education;

Whereas Alexander Graham Bell was a leading force in the effort to prevent the prevalence of deaf people's language, their organizations, their press and their cultural identity;

Whereas Alexander Graham Bell was a strong advocate to eliminate sign language and deaf teachers from the deaf education system;

Whereas Rochester Institute of Technology is the home of the world renowned National Technical Institute for the Deaf;

Whereas the National Technical Institute for the Deaf has a building named after Alexander Graham Bell, an extremist whose views have been condemned repeatedly by the National Association of the Deaf throughout the years;

Whereas the National Technical Institute for the Deaf recently made the decision to continue honoring Alexander Graham Bell by keeping his namesake on one of its buildings;

Whereas Ohlone College has zero tolerance for extremists with negative views of and practices towards disenfranchised individuals and communities including the deaf community;

Whereas Ohlone College prides itself in providing a safe haven for all people from all cultures including deaf individuals as evidenced by its motto "World of Cultures, United in Learning";

Whereas the faculty of the Center for Deaf Studies at Ohlone College find the decision by the administration of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf to continue honoring a known extremist, Alexander Graham Bell, to be insulting, oppressive and unacceptable;

Be it resolved that the faculty of the Center for Deaf Studies at Ohlone College has voted to disassociate itself from National Technical Institute for the Deaf and will not collaborate with its representatives until such time as the A.G. Bell’s name is removed from the building;

Be it further resolved that the faculty of the Center for Deaf Studies at Ohlone College urge the NTID administration to adopt an zero tolerance policy immediately and stop honoring the man whose vision and work have continued to challenge the very existence of the community in which we both serve. It is our strong preference to continue our close working relationship with NTID for years to come.

Proclaimed on Thursday, May 22 2008
By the Faculty Members of the
Center for Deaf Studies
Ohlone College
Fremont, California

Sandra Ammons Thomas Holcomb Shelley Lawrence Alyce Reynolds

Claire Ellis Bunny Klopping Nancy Pauliukonis William Wong


A Deaf Pundit said...

This is exactly the kind of action the Deaf Community needs to take. This is peaceful, not at all violent, and professional. Well done!

Anonymous said...

Yes, more and more professionals need to step in and speak out.

DP, just curious if you are able to recall any such violent actions done by the Deaf about anything that is unjust? Your statement made it sounded like it is what the Deaf community needs which is to be peaceful.

Paul said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jenny said...

Go, Ohlone! I'm so proud of our local people!!!

OCDAC said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

2 comments above have been removed because they are personal attacks against two individuals that have NOTHING to do with this topic of Ohlone's letter to NTID.

Please refrain from using this site as a place to slander others.

O & B does not tolerate this nor does it want its peaceful activism and safe website space to become corrupt.



mishkazena said...

I support the decision of Ohlone College. The recognition of a hateful bigot like AGB who had harmed countless deaf children with his narrow communication method, proposed eugenic measures, and slandered against culturally Deaf people and their language has no business on a university for the deaf.

Dianrez said...

This is heartening to me. The faculty and staff who made up its Working Committee to review the Bell plaque and naming, Dr. Hurwitz, the constituents of the NTID community, and the wider Deaf community engaging in honest dialogue. Although not everyone agrees, this dialogue is dynamic, respectful and articulate, and moving forward.

It is a great model for institutional discourse and should be emulated everywhere else in the Deaf community.

Ella Mae Lentz said...

Wow! What powerful statement! I hope this inspires the faculty on the NTID/RIT campus to do the same.
Thank you, Ohlone Deaf Studies Dept, for this crisp clear stand. A role model of complete unity aimed at achieving social justice for Deaf people.

Anonymous said...

Well, it is a sad day for one group of deaf people to suppress another group of deaf people. I agree that AG Bell is an extremist in the history of deaf education. If only you study and understand history that coincided during AG Bell’s time, Darwin’s theory and eugenic issues were hot topics during his time.

Time, history and language acquisition had been evolving and taught us that you simply can not eradicate any cultural language by the whim or by force. ASL is here to stay as many educators and scholars had already disapproved and condemned eugenic since the Nazi period.

Don't you also agree that Deaf-of-Deaf who are pro-ASL extremists also have an equal opportunity to suppress other groups in varying degrees, too?

Can we try karmic approach to this problem? It is a two-way street collaborative world. Instead of ceasing or suppressing business relationship with NTID, you can educate them and persuade them continuously until NTID finally concedes to our demand. That would foster positive business relation down the road for all deaf people regardless of their communication style as long as we continue exposing beautiful ASL in a positive enlightening way as to free somebody from ignorance, prejudice, or superstition about ASL and the signing community.

May peace be with you

DE said...

Wow! Hand-waves to Ohlone!!! They did the right thing in standing up to the main source of prejudice, audism, and disinformation towards the Deaf, AGB.

Standing up itself is a courageous and positive action that brings attention to both what's wrong AND what's right.

Thank you, Ohlone College Deaf Studies faculty!

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous

you wrote:
"Don't you also agree that Deaf-of-Deaf who are pro-ASL extremists also have an equal opportunity to suppress other groups in varying degrees, too?"

Sure anyone anywhere has opportunity to oppress others. I am not sure why you are targeting Deaf people who have Deaf parents specifically. Or how any such group has been oppressing others???

Is this a byproduct of Bell's binary approach - oral / aural only thus if someone advocates for ASL it means they are against people who speak/listen????

Can you name such a group?

If one existed I am very doubtful it would have many supporters.

Please refrain from using the O & B website as a place to attack people (from Deaf parents, from hearing parents, from oral backgrounds, from bilingual backgrounds, etc)

O & B is committed to tolerance and peaceful activism in our quest for justice and equality


Patti Durr

Anonymous said...

I truly hope we will find some truly intelligent, responsible and sane leadership in the deaf world before our collective stupidity actually destroys us.

Hurwitz, Rosen and Davila are NOT subject to the whims and whines of a community that collectively lacks the financial means to support any of them individually, let alone collectively. Davila, Rosen and Hurwitz answer to a Board of Trustees and in the case of Gallaudet and NTID, to Congress as well.

If Congress stopped funding Howard University, Howard would not cave in. It would survive and thrive. Its black alumni have sufficient economic and political savvy and earning power to keep it alive. Can the same be said of NTID, Gallaudet or the CSUN or even Ohlone if state and federal funding dried up?

Will we ever find a deaf leader who can bring people together like Obama is doing? Where is this great deaf leader who preaches the values we so desperately need in our choking hate filled deaf world?

Does anybody actually pay attention to the Deafhood vlogs? Check crab theory, dysconcsious audism and deficit thinking specifically? Or are we so busy pointing fingers that we overlook the fact three of our fingers are actually pointed at ourselves?

The Ohlone professors have the esteemed Ella Mae Lentz and I believe Dr. Gertz is headed out there so I hope they get to review their Deafhood vlogs and rethink their position with a greater understanding of higher education and the role and responsibilities of higher education leaders in the 21st century.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous 1:03

Your post is filled with paternalistic assumptions and false ideas, which simply are not accurate. Your post reveals more about YOU, than anyone else.

Paul said...

Excuse me Patti!

I was not insulting or doing inflammatory!

I was telling truth to the dark history.

Truth prevails!

I will NOT do anything more for NTID as they continue to keep silencing me for telling truth!


Anonymous said...

So by supporting the AGB bashing, I would be revealing less about ME? What is paternalistic about telling the truth? Please explain to me what is inaccurate in what I said? What exactly does it reveal about ME?

Is it that if anybody goes against the mob's mentality, then we are patronizing, paternalizing and anti-deaf? Please go see the Deafhood vlogs again. Carefully this time. Do we have the courage to practice what we preach?

Actually I am looking forward to reading Ben Soukup, Dr. Roslyn Rosen, Dr. Davila and of course the NAD leaderships position on this. Or will they do the safe thing and stay mum? I look forward to an entertaining and intelligent discussion and I am sure we can have one if we remain focused on opinions and ideas and not resort to immature mudslinging and character assassination. okay?

Jon said...

Anonymous, 3:42

What you just revealed yourself is that you have the colonialized mentality. This is something that you need to understand yourself better before you bash those that understood and became

Can you explain "mob mentality" in your comment?

Is there a reality of a mob mentality anywhere in the Deaf Community?

And are you more concern about character assassination by someone than A.G. Bell's Deaf culture assassination with his eugenic attitude that started back in 1880 and it is still being successfully stigmatized right now.

Do you really think that it is alright for Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and AVT to forbid sign language to Deaf babies when their vocal chords are not developed just yet....denying the Deaf babies' need to start cognitive language development?

After 128 years of oppression and the Deaf Community's desire respect of American Sign Language which still has not been successfully achieved, do you have a better idea?

If so, then DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!


THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM IS AGBELL and it doesn't take a band aid to fix it as you seem to think so!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3:42:

The point is the you are JUST PLAIN WRONG in your claims. Ella and the others are being very positive in their approach, and it is manifestly absurd that you would attempt to characterize an entire group by such ridiculous labels.

In addition, those Boards do not operate in a vacuum. They have constituents who provide political mandates. It's not the prerogative of those Boards to just "do whatever they want."

Joseph Pietro Riolo said...

It is very discouraging and disheartening to see that the majority is not willing to abide by Dr. Alan Hurwitz's decision and that it is using pressure to attempt to change his mind all while it ignores and excludes the voices of the minorities. It is like seeing history repeated where the minority during the 1880 Milan Conference was ignored and suppressed.

Since reasoning is not possible or even encouraged in this kind of atmosphere, I will use analogy and a little more forceful language in this comment.

Excluding the participants of the minority and pressing Dr. Hurwitz to remove the name of Dr. Alexander Graham Bell from the dormitory that was named after him is a sign of intolerance. This does not give much assurance to the members of the minorities, now and in the future, that they will be always heard even if their positions do not align with the position of the majority. Some will say that removing the name of Dr. Bell from the dormitory is never intended to encourage intolerance toward individuals who hold ideas similar to Dr. Bell. However, the action alone makes more visual impact than the words alone. The action speaks louder than the words. It is pretty obvious that anyone who has any relationship, no matter how distant it is and no matter how weak it is, to the ideas of Dr. Bell is no longer accepted by the community of NTID. This is not a good sign.

There is nothing honorable in vilifying Dr. Bell. We have enormous advantage over him simply because he was not able to defend himself. I believe that there is some good in him. I believe that if he were alive today, he would correct or adjust his philosophy when he is presented with the current research. That I believe that there is some good in him is not baseless. He originally opposed the deaf intermarriage but afterwards, he softened his position avoiding the repressive measures to prevent deaf people from marrying to each other. Also, some or few deaf individuals owed a great debt to his philosophy. I enjoyed watching Star Wars movies. Darth Vader is one of the most evil characters. Almost every character hated him. Yet, Luke Skywalker was able to see good in his father who was also Darth Vader. This moral lesson can be applied to Dr. Bell.

Opposite ideas can co-exist and this can be easily demonstrated by two analogies. The Eastern philosophy of Yin and Yang shows that opposite states are necessary for the life to continue. Eliminating or diminishing a group of states on one side will make life unbalanced. Library is another analogy where opposite ideas can co-exist. It is not uncommon to see that on one self, there are books whose ideas are opposite of each other. Without doubt, there are always some individuals who want to expunge the offending books. Yet, the librarians refuse to surrender to the individuals' or even the majority's demands. The NTID community should try to emulate the librarians by allowing the opposite ideas to co-exist.

It ain't no fun to be a member in minority. (Double negative in the previous sentence does not make it a positive sentence; I intend it to mean more, or double, emphasis on the negative in the verb. Nonstandard English grammar, I know.) It is like having king and only one pawn in a chess game and they are surrounded by other player’s seven powerful pieces. If the majority succeeds in changing Dr. Hurwitz's decision through pressure and hereby disrespects the principle of consensus, I will be saddened obviously but I will not hold any grudge against the members of the majority. I will not tear up my diploma. I will not stop supporting RIT and will not withdraw my monetary donation from it. I will not destroy or lose friendship over this mole. I will not become intolerant of those members. I will always be ready to move on.

Joseph Pietro Riolo

Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this post in the public domain.

Anonymous said...

OK, so now we're supposed to accept openly acknowledged irrationalism as an excuse to keep Bell's name on the dorm building?

This is not what education is all about.

Jon said...

Joseph Pietro Riolo,

Can you make it simple to explain why you think Alexander Graham Bell should be forgiven despite of his "innocent" mistake that he destroy thousands of Deaf people's "normal" life in the last 128 years? Even regarding your memories while at RIT?

I am not sure how you feel about yourself or should feel about the others that suffered in the last 128 years.

I feel A.G. Bell should not have any respect at all by the society even though they have been
gullible-"ized" successfully assuming as you are too.

Should we be gullible too as well as you are?

I'm confused... Can you explain to me rather than using complicated explanation on your part?

I know that you may look down to me as not so English as you are but I so happen to be a "by-product of AGBell (failed) ideology.

Another words, i do not appreciate how you try to impress your writing to explain your "smart-ass" style.

Please be humble and understand the victims by AGBell's ideology which ruined many Deaf people's language and education in the last 128 years.

Enough is Enough!

If you see that there is a problem, it is not the Deaf people's fault, it is the ideology of AGBell and its associates and you can help to stop this if you have the realization and compassion.


Anonymous said...

Um, Joseph, the task force recommended removal of the name. The majority wants removal. Reading comprehension is your friend.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joseph Pietro Riolo said...

To the administrators of Orange Brown Coalition, If you think that this comment strays from the topic and is not appropriate, please do feel free to delete it.

Responding to the comment dated May 23, 2008 10:57 PM made by Jon:

It is interesting that you mentioned forgiveness because I thought about it earlier this week. Will I ever be ready to forgive Dr. Alexander Graham Bell? I don't think so. There are still some resistance and anger inside me. However, it is very hypocritical of me not to forgive him when I expect people to forgive me.

Recognizing good in him is the first step or one of the first steps during the process of forgiveness. Will I ever complete the process? Sometimes, I thought I could complete it. Sometimes, I thought I could not do it. There is still conflict inside me.

When it comes to the issue of the name of Dr. Bell on the dormitory, I try to be dispassionate because anger can easily cloud my thinking. Again, I would like to refer to the Star Wars movies. They reminded me that anger belongs to the dark side of the force. You don't have to agree with the movies but that is how I see it.

Please do know that I don't look down on anyone who did not use correct grammar. I had bad experiences where I was made fun of because I did not write correct grammar. A lot of thanks go to people who taught me how to write correctly and better. I will give four specific examples relating to NTID. It was during my first year at NTID that I was introduced to an excellent dictionary, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. I am sorry that I could not remember the name of the professor who introduced it. I am not good at remembering names. A deaf student there recommended me to buy a small grammar book, Instant English Handbook. There is another professor, whose name seems to be Gary Long, introduced me to the concept of networking using the workbook also titled "Networking". Another professor, whose name I could not remember, introduced me to the important concepts in writing in her English composition class.

Responding to the comment dated May 23, 2008 10:57pm made by an anonymous person:

I compared majority and consensus in my other comment. I focused on the role of minority in each approach.

Joseph Pietro Riolo

Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this post in the public domain.

dog food said...

gosh darn; i love beer. We should all get together, drink tons of beer, and celebrate the fact.. that hmm...

brian greenwald said...

I just read the Ohlone College letter with great interest.

A.G. Bell, like many, many other individuals, were participants in the eugenics movement. Teachers, psychologists, social reformers, U.S Presidents, businessmen such as Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller, Jr., birth control activist Margaret Sanger all participated in this movement on many different levels.

I find it very interesting that even if NAD voiced opposition to AG Bell's oralist platform, consider these facts:

- A NAD watchdog group erroneously thought A.G. Bell was the chair of the Eugenics committee under the American Breeders Association [it was actually David Starr Jordan].

- Both Jordan, who was President of Stanford University at the time, and A.G. Bell said that the committee of Eugenics did not seek to propose the prohibition of intermarriage of deaf people. In fact, Bell goes on the record: "I may say that I have always deprecated legislative interference with the marriages of the Deaf."
[A.G. Bell, 20 January 1908, reprinted in The Association Review, Vol. X, No. 1 (February 1908), 227-228; see also J. L. Smith to David Starr Jordan, 25 January 1908, reprinted in The Association Review, Vol. X, No. 1 (Feburary 1908), 228.]

- In 1920, NAD frowned upon Deaf marriages and passed a resolution to "earnestly urge the deaf to avoid such unions if possible."

- Also, in 1930, NAD supported the American Otological Society to "discover and cure causes of deafness, and appoint a standing committee to co-operate with Science to the fullest extent."
[Source: Proceedings of the Sixteenth Triennial Convention and Fourth World Congress of the Deaf, National Association of the Deaf, p. 88].

The NAD by 1930 clearly adopted mainstream eugenic values. This, by the way, was after AG Bell's death. Do we condemn NAD for this? If so, I haven't seen anything to this effect.

About Orange Brown Coalition

Mission: To share with the RIT community about Deaf Culture (language, history, humor, etc.) and related activities.

To facilitate relationships between Deaf and hearing members of the RIT community through awareness of our cultures.

To provide opportunities for self-empowerment and self-advocacy of Deaf people on campus.

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