Monday, October 31, 2005

A Message From ... Dr. Jane K. Fernandes

From: Provost Jane Fernandes
To: Student Body
Subject: Recent Campus Incidents
Date: Mon, 31 Oct 2005 20:10:37 -0500

Dear Campus Community,

I am writing to inform you about two recent, very serious incidents involving our students. The incidents are related, and I believe they are warnings of deeper issues on campus that we must deal with directly and immediately.


Following the Homecoming Ball on Saturday, October 22 at the Hyatt Hotel, a number of students returned to the rooms they had rented in the hotel that night, and became loud and boisterous. When asked by hotel management on behalf of guests staying in rooms near the students’ rooms to be quieter, the students rudely refused and instead, made more noise and became more obnoxious. They ran up and down the hallways of the hotel banging on doors at random and shouting obscenities. Hotel guests also had to endure several fire alarms during the night which our students set off.

President Jordan and I have received numerous letters, emails, and calls of complaint from Hyatt officials and guests. One man told of how the constant noise and foul language scared his two daughters to such a degree that they couldn’t sleep for days. The hotel, which had to refund thousands of dollars to the guests whose evening was disrupted, has asked the Student Body Government to reimburse this cost. Needless to say, Hyatt officials and guests do not and will not hold Gallaudet University and its students in high regard for a long time.

An investigation to identify the students who pulled the fire alarms is underway. In addition, the University will not support students’ contracting with any hotel for next year’s Homecoming or any other event. Further, serious consideration is being given to revision of policies which would significantly impact the future of off-campus events.

Goalpost Incident

The most recent incident occurred early this morning when a large group of students tore down both goalposts on the football field. Fortunately, none of the students was injured, though the possibility of someone getting hurt, even killed, was very real. You may know that just two weeks ago a 20 year-old student at the University of Minnesota-Morris died in a similar goalpost incident.

I realize that some consider taking down goalposts a harmless prank or a way to celebrate the success of one’s football team. In actuality, such behavior results in destruction of university property—vandalism—and is potentially very dangerous, which is why no college or university sanctions such an activity. At other universities, football players typically condemn the tearing down of goalposts. However, Gallaudet football players and other students gathered early this morning refused to acknowledge the risk involved when it was explained to them by CREs and DPS and MPD officers on the scene. Instead, a mob mentality took over as a few crowd leaders urged everyone to resist instructions to disperse back to their dormitories. Fire alarms were pulled in all the dormitories forcing students outside where they joined the crowd. Such behavior is not only offensive; it is completely out of order.

University officials are aggressively investigating this incident to determine the students responsible for organizing and encouraging the crowd to ignore campus authorities and destroy campus property. Those found guilty will be penalized, and could be suspended or expelled.

These incidents signal to me a significant lack of respect for other people and their property, complete disregard for public safety, and an astonishing absence of common sense and good judgment. We as a community cannot condone this behavior.

The University’s strategic plan includes a goal which says that Gallaudet promotes an environment where everyone is included, valued, and respected. In order to achieve this goal, we must first be aware of what our students are doing and respond with decisive action. We must set clear expectations that reflect this goal—through our words and our actions and reinforce them at every opportunity.


Jane K. Fernandes

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