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March 24, 2004

Deaf Students Protest Hiring Of 'Hearing' Dean

From: KGO, CA - Mar 24, 2004

"March 24 (ABC7) — Deaf students are taking a stand at Ohlone College in the East Bay. The school's dean of Deaf Studies, who himself is deaf, is about to retire. The students staged a rally today to draw attention to the hiring process. They want to make sure the college selects another deaf person to take his place. ABC7's Carolyn Johnson reports from Fremont.

Deaf activists and students rallied on campus late this afternoon, demanding a deaf dean replace the one who's retiring.

Steve Vollmar, deaf student and activist: "We're not saying we don't want a hearing person for the job, we're just saying the best person for the job would be a deaf person."

Steve Vollmar was born to a deaf family. His parents, grandparents, even great grandparents were all deaf.

Vollmar: "We really know what it means to value and cherish our deaf community and we've been instilled to support it all our lives and to give back to it as much as we can."

And that means in part, organizing this rally to draw attention to the cause. The school's president thinks it's a great idea, and he says he understands where they're coming from.

Doug Treadway, Ph.D., president, Ohlone College: "They represent a constituency that wants their dean to be among them, and I don't disagree with that general sentiment. But I have to protect the institution's legal processes and open processes."

Sixteen years ago, deaf students across the country, including here in Fremont, protested the hiring of a hearing president at Gallaudet University - the nation's most prestigious college for the hearing impaired.

The call was for a "deaf president now." After a week of protests, they succeeded. Today, students here hold signs saying "deaf dean always." They say they must be included in the hiring process.

Megan Malzkuhn, deaf student and activist: "These hearing people, they're doing everything and we're not involved, I feel like we're at the bottom of the list."

Copyright 2004 by Bay City News, Inc.