Faculty and Staff have been sending reply all messages to the NTID community since the decision on the dorm name was originally announced. O & B sent out a reply all message yesterday:
Greetings to members of our NTID/RIT community:
EXRESSIONS OF THANKS:
The Orange & Brown Coalition, which is made up of students, staff, faculty and alumni of NTID/RIT, would like to thank all of the faculty and staff who shared their thoughts on the issue of Bell hall and allowed for us to reprint your comments in our website at: http://orangebrownrit.blogspot.com/2008/05/ntid-facstaff-responses-re-decision.html . We value ALL of your comments.
We gratefully acknowledge and value Drs. Hurwitz and Destler's statement at our May 22, 2008 meetings that no personal attacks, threats, or hostile environments will be tolerated towards individuals or groups in favor of keeping the name or those in favor of removing the name
We would also like to thank Dr. Hurwitz and Dr. Destler for reconsidering the decision and for opening up the dialogue on this topic.
RESPECT FOR ALL
We trust that once NTID/RIT examines the unexamined principles of AG Bell's life work and activities, people will be able to see the difference between those who work to improve methods of teaching speech and Bell’s efforts toward mandating an exclusive and intolerant pure oral approach over all else.
Removing the name of AG Bell from one of our dorms in no way targets Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals who prefer to use speech, individuals who teach speech, and/or those who work in the field of audiology. Our opposition is to the individual--AG Bell, and how he fostered a rigid exclusiveness connected with the teaching of speech to deaf/hard of hearing individuals (and the complete intolerance of sign language) ---- not against the acquisition of speaking skills. If the administration is to worry about potentially offending anyone by removing the name of the dorm, they must show equal concern, respect and value for the multitudes of people that have been offended by the decision to keep the name.
Please rest assured that if NTID/RIT had a building honoring someone who advocated exclusively for the teaching of ASL and banished English and speech from a deaf child’s educational experience, we would object vehemently to honoring this person as well. NTID/RIT is playing right into A G BELL’S LEGACY -- – polarization within deaf education – -the oral/aural only camp and the bilingual camp (where ASL and English are equally respected). We regret this very much.
RIT VALUES VS VALUES OF AG BELL
The Orange and Brown Coalition's position is that Alexander Graham Bell dorm be renamed because honoring A.G. Bell is incongruent with what RIT stands for. According to RIT's values statement:
- RIT values integrity (Bell has been accused numerous times of forgery and plagiarism),
- RIT values respect (Bell did not respect the wishes and voice of the deaf and hard of hearing people of his time),
- RIT values diversity (Bell showed no tolerance for sign language in deaf education, was exclusive and extreme in this philosophy, and actively worked to prevent deaf people from being teachers),
- and RIT values pluralism (Bell actively tried to prevent, diminish, and destroy the pillars of the Deaf community and Deaf culture - ASL, Deaf schools, Deaf teachers, Deaf organizations, and Deaf marriage practices).
COLLECTION OF FEEDBACK/MATERIALS
In reviewing all the materials before us:
- scholarly publications on AG Bell's role in deaf education and Deaf history and AG Bell and the telephone invention and patent (see below for sources)
- the petition with over 1,000 signatures from students, faculty, staff, community members (Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing) in favor of renaming the dorm
- the many, many, many private emails and personal communication we have received from individuals telling us they are disgusted, upset, and in shock over the decision but are fearful to express this to the administration privately or publicly
- Ohlone College Deaf Studies' resolution to disassociate itself from NTID until the dorm is renamed http://orangebrownrit.blogspot.com/2008/05/letter-from-faculty-of-center-for-deaf.html
- and shared statements in favor of honoring AG Bell, which however do not propose valid reasons as to why a dorm name in Bell's honor is appropriate on RIT's campus
A SUGGESTION FOR TOWER C PLAQUE
Lastly, we would like to offer new wording for the new plaque in honor of those who have graduated from NTID/RIT:
NTID has been referred to as the “grand experiment” because its vision was to have a Deaf college exist within a Hearing college. Without a doubt, this grand experiment has been a successful and meaningful one. Thousands of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people from all walks of life are welcomed here to study, learn, grow, contribute and achieve in this unique environment. The values of pluralism, diversity and respect are lived out every day at RIT because of the existence of NTID and Deaf/hard of hearing students on campus.
We thank each and everyone of you who cares equally for ALL of our students and are so willing to engage in this dangerous dialogue. We, members of the Orange and Brown Coalition, mean no ill-will towards anyone and we believe we can have this honest and much overdue dialogue with utmost respect and caring.
We know that all in our NTID/RIT community are UNITED in the desire to affirm and live out RIT's values of: integrity, respect, diversity and pluralism.
Orange & Brown Coalition
Baynton, Douglas C. Forbidden Signs: American Culture and the Campaign Against Sign Language. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.
Baynton, Douglas, Jack Gannon, and Jean Lindquist Bergey. Through Deaf Eyes: A Photogrpahic History of an American Community. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press, 2007.
Bell, Alexander Graham Memoir upon the Formation of a Deaf Variety of the Human Race. 1883.
Edwards, RAR, “Chasing Aleck: The Story of a Dorm”, The Public Historian, Vol. 29, Nov 3, pp. 87-107, Summer 2007.
Gannon, Jack R. Deaf Heritage: A Narrative History of Deaf America. Silver Spring, Md.: National Association of the Deaf, 1981.
Lang, Harry. A Phone of Our Own. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press, 2000.
Lane, Harlan. When the Mind Hears: A History of the Deaf. New York: Random House, 1984.
Shulman, Seth. The Telephone Gambit: Chasing Alexander Bell’s Secret. New York: W.W. Norton, 2008
Van Cleve, John V. and Barry A. Crouch. A Place of Their Own: Creating the Deaf Community in America. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press, 1989.
Veditz, George, De Moruis Nil Nisi Bonum, Obituary for AG Bell, The Jewish Deaf, October 1922, pp. 13-15.
Veditz, George, Dec. 29, 1909 letter to AG Bell, retrieved 5/18/08 http://memory.loc.gov/mss/magbell/169/16910210/0001.jpg
Veditz, George, February 15, 1915 letter to AG Bell, retrieved 5/18/08 http://memory.loc.gov/mss/magbell/169/16910212/0001i.jpg
Winefield, Richard. Never the Twain Shall Meet: Bell, Gallaudet and the Communication Debate. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press, 1987.