Students arrested in weeks of protests at Gallaudet University won’t be punished further, said the new head of the nation’s leading campus for the deaf.
“No student who was arrested will receive additional punishment in any way or form,” interim president Robert Davila said in a video blog posted this week on the university’s Web site.
“We feel that they have already had an experience that they will always remember, and that’s enough,” he said.
However, Davila said students who were involved in the protests over leadership of the school but were not arrested could still face sanctions under the student code of conduct.
Davila took over in January as interim president of the nation’s only liberal arts college for the deaf after a year of campus unrest. Protesters opposed the selection of Jane Fernandes to succeed longtime president I. King Jordan.
Fernandes’ appointment was revoked in October after weeks of protests that, at times, shut down the campus.
Protesters complained that Fernandes, Gallaudet’s former provost, was an ineffective leader and was not the best person to address a lack of diversity, declining enrollment and low graduation rates. They also said the board had failed to consult with students and faculty members.
Andy Lange, president of Gallaudet’s alumni association, praised Davila’s decision. “I think that’s great,” he said, adding that many alumni were concerned about how the university would treat the protesters.
Also this week, the university received an improved evaluation from the federal government, rising from last year’s rating of “ineffective” to “adequate.” The improved report centered on plans for increased monitoring of Gallaudet by the Department of Education.
However, the Office of Management and Budget was still critical of Gallaudet, noting that it had not improved “key areas, including the number of students who stay in school, graduate and either pursue graduate degrees or find jobs upon graduation.” Gallaudet’s graduation rates consistently have been below 50 percent.