23 June 2020 — Last night at 4:15 p.m. Pacific Standard Time/7:15 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Gallaudet University e-mailed an internal statement in both ASL and English to the Gallaudet community members–including current and former students–and the statement included an announcement that the Office of University Communications set up a new microsite by the name of “Belonging and Equity.”

The Office of University Communications’ ASL video was released as an unlisted YouTube video with no English transcript for DeafBlind community members to access (see the screenshot below). It seems that Gallaudet University is not interested in publishing this video in a way where you would be able to find it as a listed video under its official YouTube channel, GallaudetU. [Our transcript is available further down this article.]

The Belonging and Equity microsite has a Gally Share URL link. Deaf Vee Journal has observed that as of 8:30 p.m. PST / 11:30 p.m. PST last night, Gallaudet University has not made any efforts to clearly showcase the microsite on their home page for their official website (www.gallaudet.edu) or the home page for their Gally Share platform (www.gallyshare.com) at all. We have included two screenshots below as proof. It appears that it is an afterthought.

Gallaudet University also sent a written response to the Black Student Union and the Student Body Government’s joint petition as of last week on Friday, June 19, 2020, and the response is available on the microsite. [A plain text version of this letter is available as well, right below the video transcript.]

While we are checking to see if any Black Deaf community members have made social media reaction posts, we also acknowledge the high likelihood that they are exhausted from feeling that they have to speak up all the time. We respect the Black Deaf communities, and we ask our readers with White privilege not to put any pressure on them to speak up.


[Image Description: Gallaudet University’s YouTube video is dated June 22, 2020. Brandi Rarus, the Chief Marketing and Undergraduate Admissions Officer, is shown in the video. Ms. Rarus is a White Deaf woman with shoulder-length blonde hair who is wearing a black short-sleeved tee shirt. Ms. Rarus is seated in front of a grey wall and a partial framed picture that is hanging on the wall.]

New Microsite Announcement — Video Transcript

Dear Gallaudet community:

This week we have several things happening with University Communications. Today, the University Communications team has set up a new microsite called “Belonging and Equity.” Belonging and Equity is one of Gallaudet’s three imperatives as part of Gallaudet’s 10-year vision. The three imperatives are belonging and equity, bilingual education, and innovation. The website encompasses the Black Lives Matter Movement, Gallaudet’s response to racism, [and] our actions and plans up to this point and moving forward.

Last Friday, we responded to the petition by the Black Student Union. Our response to the petition can be found on the microsite. President Cordano will not be giving her Monday reflection this week. Instead, we will have different leaders and other people share a few words. Tomorrow, Academic Affairs will share updates on their plans to combat racism. On Thursday, [the] Chief Operating Officer Dominic Lacy will share a few words about DPS. We will continue to communicate with you on an ongoing basis about our plans of action and work. Thank you. [The screen fades to black for a brief time before it changes to white where a logo of Gallaudet University appears in light gold and blue. The logo says, “Gallaudet University” with three words below it. “Connect. Discover. Influence. The video ends.]

Gallaudet University’s Response to the BSU/SBG Petition — Plain Text

Dear Black Student Union and Student Body Government:

Gallaudet University recognizes the systemic racism embedded into the Gallaudet experience for many in our community and is taking increased action to eradicate it. Anti-racism work requires both systems transformation and individual change and we are acting on both ends.

This communication will be one of many; anti-racism work happening at Gallaudet has not always been communicated sufficiently to the community and going forward, we will communicate frequently about what is happening to eradicate racism at Gallaudet.

The Black Student Union and the Student Body Government called for change and identified six specific changes designed to address systemic racism. Our institutional actions are identified below.

And, it is not enough. Dismantling racism is a long journey – one that should have clear markers of progress. We will continue engaging, listening, acting, and communicating. This list only states some of the work happening at Gallaudet University and should not be viewed as comprehensive. Our community’s commitment to this work may not negate the pain of what has happened in the past, but it can lead to change and healing. [Image description: The remaining body of this letter is structured as a bullet list of the University’s past and planned actions for each of the six demands in the original BSU/SBG petition. A subheading is assigned for each demand.]

Demand #1: Additional training for the officers at the Department of Public Safety

  • All members of the DPS staff will participate annually in developmental educational and personal growth workshops that will focus on:
    1. Nonviolent communication,
    2. The development of personal reflective skills to examine each person’s histories, professional experiences and training, and how it influences their decisions and perspectives,
    3. Implicit and Explicit Bias in Law Enforcement, the historical perspective of racism in society and higher education,
    4. How to provide trauma-informed responses to complaints,
    5. Community policing to improve campus/community cooperation, and
    6. Effective communications and customer service in higher education.
  • All members of the DPS staff will participate in de-escalation training annually. This training [has] to be specifically tailored for bilingual context.
  • ASL and Deaf Culture training will be required of DPS staff.
  • The trainings will be followed up by dialogue sessions between students of color/DPS co-facilitated by EDI and Ombuds. These dialogues will take place at least once per semester.
  • The Department of Public Safety will add a behavioral interview portion as part of the hiring process.
  • Student engagement, particularly from student organizations of color, will be required in the hiring process for the Department of Public Safety.
  • Incorporate into Officer’s performance evaluation level of interaction with students and the effectiveness of interaction with students as well as improvement in ASL fluency.
  • All members of the DPS staff will participate annually in developmental educational and personal growth workshops that will focus on:
    1. Nonviolent communication,
    2. The development of personal reflective skills to examine each person’s histories, professional experiences and training, and how it influences their decisions and perspectives,
    3. Implicit and Explicit Bias in Law Enforcement, the historical perspective of racism in society and higher education,
    4. How to provide trauma-informed responses to complaints,
    5. Community policing to improve campus/community cooperation, and
    6. Effective communications and customer service in higher education

Demand #2: Additional training for the staff and faculty of Gallaudet University

  • All faculty, staff, and teachers will be required to complete online training by December 2020.
    1. Faculty have already begun by taking the online Culturally Responsive and Trauma
    2. Informed training that began this summer and was developed by Dr. Ndura, Dr. Cara Miller, and Liz Stone.
    3. EDI, in collaboration with Academic Affairs and Human Resources, will develop online training for Gallaudet University and Clerc Center staff, which will be ready by Fall 2020 for our staff to complete by December 2020.
    4. Clerc Center will collaborate to ensure an online training is made available to all teachers by Fall 2020.
  • Ongoing anti-racism training, both online and in-person – as we resume on-campus life, will be required of all faculty, staff, and teachers annually.
  • Executive team members will continue to deepen and build their own, and the University’s knowledge and skills to support Anti-Racism work. We will continue to develop the capacity to create a stronger culture of commitment to equity and belonging at Gallaudet. We recognize this is a deep change that requires steadfast attention and engagement with our community, particularly our BIPOC.

Demand #3: Increase diversity in staff and faculty

  • Led by a majority BIPOC, the Transforming the Work Experience Steering Committee will begin the human resources redesign process. There will be a second core workgroup that will also be at least 60% BIPOC who will work with a BIPOC-led consulting team to shape the recommendations to the Steering Committee. The Clerc Center will either be a part of the core workgroup or have a parallel structure within Clerc Center that will report up to the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee members are:
    1. Dominic Lacy, Chief Operating Officer
    2. Dr. Khadijat Rashid, Dean of the Faculty
    3. Christina Shen Austin, Executive Director of Human Resource Services
    4. Dr. Elavie Ndura, Chief Diversity Officer
    5. Dr. Laurene Simms, Chief Bilingual Officer
    6. Nicole Sutliffe, Chief Administrative Officer, Clerc Center
    7. Heather Harker, Chief of Staff
  • The system redesign will address many of the challenges and inefficiencies in our current processes and will emphasize ensuring mobility, professional development, equity of opportunity, and increasing diversity of the staff, faculty, and teachers at Gallaudet.
  • By July 2020, Gallaudet will share on its website available data on current demographics of staff, faculty, and teachers.
  • During Fall 2020, Key performance indicators regarding diversity will be identified as part of the new strategic plan. OEDSOC, FOCC and Student organizations of color will be engaged in those processes to identify metrics. These metrics will be shared on the Gallaudet website along with an annual update of progress toward those benchmarks.
  • Clerc Center leadership and a representative Clerc Center Committee will develop the key performance indicators specific to Clerc Center.
  • Beginning immediately, Gallaudet will prioritize engagement and outreach with deaf organizations of color to recruit for Gallaudet positions.

Demand #4: Include student representatives in the University hiring process

  • Search Committees are established for all posted positions at Gallaudet. The current policy and guidelines on student engagement in hiring permits, but does not require, full-time students to serve on a Search Committee.
  • Student engagement will be a key policy and practice consideration as a part of the Transforming the Work Experience process. Input from students will be included as part of the decision making by the Steering Committee.

Demand #5: Increase diversity in the student body

  • Diversity among students is increasing at Gallaudet, with BIPOC students comprising 51% of first-time, full-time freshmen who first enrolled in the fall of 2019.
  • Additional resources have been re-allocated to support student retention and success with the addition of three student success coaches – all BIPOC and recent graduates of the university.
  • On the new webpage, Gallaudet will make both historic and current data regarding the demographics of students readily accessible on the new website so progress on enrollment and retention can be easily measured and tracked in a visual format.

Demand #6: Introduce a zero tolerance policy to stop racism at Gallaudet University

  • President Cordano and each of the members of the leadership team unequivocally denounces racism and white supremacy in all forms. We will continue to take resolute and appropriate measures, including discipline, related to any behaviors that are racist or hateful. In those measures, consideration will be given to the relationships involved and structures in place that may impact the community’s confidence in Gallaudet’s commitment.
    1. In order to ensure that reports of racism are addressed in a timely, equitable and effective manner, we are strengthening our policies and procedures regarding the prohibition on racism in our community. The development of this process will be co-led by Associate General Counsel Faye Kuo and EEO Officer Sharrell McCaskill and will include student engagement, cross-divisional collaboration, and stakeholder feedback and includes the development of a hate-bias incident reporting response protocol.
    2. As part of onboarding and annual training by Human Resources, the University will educate all members of the campus community to adhere to the principles of Gallaudet University’s mission in their speech and conduct and to support the imperative of belonging and equity.

These actions are just some of the many efforts at Gallaudet to address systemic racism. There is so much more that will be done. Please join us in transforming the many systems of our institution and making Gallaudet a place where all feel safe and that they belong.

President Cordano and Executive Team
[end of the plain text response letter]