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April 19, 2004

Students to interview Ohlone candidates

From: The Argus - Fremont,CA,USA - Apr 19, 2004

By Jennifer Kho

Monday, April 19, 2004 - FREMONT -- Nine Ohlone College students have been invited to interview final candidates for the Dean of Deaf Studies and Special Services position.

"The students are a major part of this community and they should be involved, and they are involved," said Lyle Engeldinger, executive dean of human resources.

The decision to form a student interviewing committee came after deaf advocates rallied two weeks ago in favor of hiring a deaf candidate to be the new dean.

Ron Burdett, the current dean, is retiring at the end of the school year. He was the only deaf dean at a U.S. community college when he was promoted to the position four years ago.

Some deaf and hard-of-hearing students -- including members of the student group Deaf Dean Always -- say the

new hire also should be deaf, while college officials say they can't legally discriminate against hearing candidates. More than half of the roughly 30 candidates are deaf, said college President Doug Treadway.

The students invited to interview are all from the Deaf Studies and Special Services Department, which made the selections, said Lisa Waits, vice president of student services. She estimates half of the group is deaf. She said the students were chosen to represent different areas of the department.

They include one international deaf student, one "mainstream" deaf student, one Deaf Center student, one re-entry student, three students from the interpreting Preparatory and American Sign Language programs and two students from the Disabled Students Program and Services, a program for students with disabilities other than deafness, she said.

The names have not been disclosed. Burdett said all the students have agreed to

participate, but they still have a week to finalize their acceptance with Waits.

Engeldinger said the search committee, which does not include students, screens the applicants and selects the most qualified for first interviews this month.

It then will select finalists, whom the students -- after completing a college-policy training session -- will interview May 5.

Each of the students will submit his or her analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each of the finalists to the president's group, which will include Treadway and any administrative advisers he chooses.

Treadway will make the final decision, which previously would have been subject to confirmation by the board of trustees. The board Wednesday authorized Treadway to make hiring decisions for positions up to the level of vice president.

Jeremy Beaver, a Deaf Dean Always leader, said the group thinks the committee should be deaf-oriented, with only deaf and deaf-studies students.

"This is a situation that concerns the deaf students, and if anybody could be on the committee, it wouldn't be as effective," he said.

Others disagree.

Erika Geiger, a deaf student majoring in philosophy, said she is "really glad" about how the group was chosen.

Geiger said she does not think anyone "who feels what we feel and has the same voice" should be excluded, adding that she is more concerned that the interviewers are aware and capable of asking good questions than that they are deaf.

Christopher Lui, a hard-of-hearing student majoring in U.S. history and deaf studies, said it would have been very discriminatory to include only deaf and deaf-studies students. In fact, he said, he would invite students outside of the department.

"It has to be a variety of students, because the dean of Deaf Studies is not only about Deaf Studies, and not all the students are deaf," he said. "There should be a mix of deaf and hearing students from all over campus, and ASOC also should be included because it is the governing body of the students at Ohlone College."

Staff writer Jennifer Kho can be reached at (510) 353-7013 or .

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