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News and reports

October 27, 2006 | Page 15

OTHER STORIES BELOW:
Let Howie Hawkins debate
Defend immigrant rights

Unity for Gallaudet
By Chris Yarrison

WASHINGTON--Chanting "Unity for Gallaudet" and "Jane K. Fernandes, step down" more than 2,000 Gallaudet University students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters marched from campus to the Capitol building October 20.

After 16 days of bitter student protests at the nation's only liberal arts college for the deaf, the administration may finally be feeling pressured to consider the students' and faculty's demands for Fernandes' ouster.

Protesters say that the candidate selection process overlooked more qualified minority candidates--and in her six years as provost at Gallaudet, Fernandes alienated students and faculty.

Fernandes has held firm to her position, but an October 20 Washington Post editorial reports that a third of the Board of Trustees responsible for selecting her "are having second thoughts about Ms. Fernandes and think she should step aside."

It's not surprising that the Board, in the Post's terms, is losing its "backbone." That's because the students have shut down campus for three days and created bad publicity for the university, which only got worse when outgoing President I. King Jordan ordered 134 protesters arrested.

The Post reported on October 19 that Fernandes had written to the trustees, "What we are dealing with on campus is anarchy and terrorism." As graduate student Ryan Commerson told the crowd at the Capitol, "The administration is the one in anarchy...This is democracy!"

The protesters' numbers have exploded from 150 to more than 2,000 alongside a dramatic shift in tone. For many, the march to the Capitol recalled the March 11, 1988, Deaf President Now march that led to Jordan's rise as president of Gallaudet, the first ever deaf university president.

According to Commerson, the struggle at Gallaudet is a "breakthrough" and a fight for civil rights. "It will have a ripple effect," he said, "where people here today can go back to their hometowns tomorrow and fight oppression there too."

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Let Howie Hawkins debate
By Danny Katch

NEW YORK--About 30 people protested October 22 against the exclusion of Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins from the debate for New York senatorial candidates.

Hawkins is running against Hillary Clinton and her Republican challenger John Spencer, who spent the debate fighting over which one had the best strategies to "win" the Iraq war and reduce the number of abortions.

Hawkins is calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq, universal health care and using half the military budget to convert the economy to renewable energy. A recent Zogby poll has him polling 21 percent among registered independents, which amounts to 250,000 votes.

Unfortunately, Hawkins' platform is less popular with the media corporations who sponsored the debates. Their decision to exclude Hawkins prompted the League of Women Voters to withdraw its support for the debates in protest.

During the rally outside the debate, some of Clinton's supporters tried chanting "¡Sí se puede!" but we responded with "This country should be open to all! Hillary voted for a border wall!" From that point on, the Clinton crowd dropped any efforts at political debate and stuck with the monotonous chant of "Hillary! Hillary!"

For more on Howie Hawkins campaign, go to hawkinsforsenate.org.

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Defend immigrant rights
By Peter DiLeo

NEW YORK--About 1,500 immigrant rights activists filled Union Square to protest Congress' recent passage of "security-only" legislation. It was the most widely orchestrated action in New York since the massive May 1 demonstrations with more than 70 organizations endorsing the call.

Activists rallied at Union Square and then marched to Times Square. Speakers included Columbia University students Monique Dols and Karina Garcia, who were part of the group that protested the Minutemen at a campus event earlier this month; Bobby Khan from the Coney Island Avenue Project; and Joshua James, an 8-year-old citizen whose father was deported

"This march signifies an important step in the immigrant rights movement in New York City," said Ariella Cohen, one of the event organizers with the No One is Illegal Coalition. "We must make it clear to the politicians that we defeated the Sensenbrenner bill and will not tolerate its piecemeal passage--as the Secure Fence Act, the Military Commission Act, or any other law that punishes immigrants and grants them anything short of full and equal rights."

Marchers carried signs with messages like "Family reunification, not detention and deportation" and "Working is not a crime."

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