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March 22, 2004

Deaf Students Urge South Bay College To Hire Deaf Dean

From: NBC - San Francisco,CA,USA - Mar 22, 2004

Students To Gather For Silent Protest

FREMONT, Calif. -- Students at a South Bay college are organizing a rally, but what sets this a part from other demonstrations is that it will be a silent protest.

NBC11's Sandy Castelblanco reported that Ohlone College students like Meghan Malzkuhn and Jeremy Beaver are urging the college to replace the retiring dean of deaf services with someone who is also deaf.

"Specifically, have an understanding of us -- someone who knows how frustrating it's been, what struggles we've been through," Malzkuhn said.

The students are spreading their message through email and have formed a group called "DDA" -- which stands for Deaf Dean Always.

Students say with 400,000 deaf people in the Bay Area, the school can do more to find a qualified deaf dean to head the deaf center.

"A hearing person would do a good job -- could sign -- but wouldn't have deaf centered perspective, what it's like to be deaf or what it's like not to be able to hear -- what it's like not to have opportunities open to us," Beaver said.

Dr. Jim Wright of Ohlone says if the school hired a dean based on being deaf, it would be a violation of affirmative action laws.

"I can understand that, but they need to realize that in hiring fairly we have to follow employment law," Wright said.

He also says the new dean will know sign language.

But that's not good enough for some students.

"I feel we really need a deaf person to know what's inside of us," Malzkuhn said.

They worry deaf students, who already feel under-represented, will loose their voice on campus, Castelblanco reported.

The students are holding a rally on Wednesday on the Ohlone campus.

The school says the deadline to apply for the dean of the deaf center is Tuesday.

Copyright 2004 by All rights reserved.