Rochester intense snow storm this past weekend just only intensified a growing problem that has been evolving in the past several weeks at NTID. Tension at RIT/NTID campus is at a historically all-time high due to two specific reasons: unsafe space on campus and a rise in bullying and aggressive behavior that is still occurring in the last few months and has specifically risen after the election of President elect Donald Trump.
On Monday, November 21, over 80 students took over the stage to express their frustration with the current NTID administration at their Convocation. In front of over 150 faculty and staff members, NTID Student Congress President Kristina Bernhardt announced the results of their opinions of the NTID administration with a simple question: Do you feel confident that the administration fully listen to your concerns and is doing their best to solve these concerns in the community’s best interest?
The numbers might surprise you. 90% of students said no.
Many students came on stage in a surprise protest that only lasted no more than three minutes; did their message get across? They signed “Enough is Enough” and had signs and visual cues to share their protest on stage.
Brian Milburn, a faculty member at NTID, seem to think so. In a video address on YouTube, he announced that he would be working closely with NTID President Dr. Buckley on the serious issues at NTID with aggressive behavior and bullying at NTID. He express hope that NTID will be able to enforce a zero tolerance policy against aggressive behavior and bullying at NTID.
NTID President Dr. Buckley also addressed the issues in a letter that focused on responding to the concerns of NTID students. He commended the students for their courage to speak out “on the issues that they care so passionately about. They are to be commended for sharing their stories with us and reminding us of where we fall short in our ideals as an educational community”.
Dr Buckley stated that he will be appointing a team to negotiate with the students and will be using a neutral mediator to assist with the process immediately after Thanksgiving break.
While bullying and aggressive behavior is a concern at NTID; it is not the biggest concern. The biggest concern at NTID is the rise of fear on campus especially after the election of President-elect Donald Trump especially for People of Color and the rising problem of safety on campus. The Ebony Club wrote a letter to Dr Gerald Buckley specifically on this issue. They stated that people of color should not have to worry about safety on campus and use of Public Safety officers on campus. They also pointed out that NTID needs to have more staff members who are of People of Color and that NTID provide more courses that focused on intersectionality of identities that represents different cultures.
#EnoughIsEnoughNTID was started by Nate who is the Ebony Club student advisor because the Ebony Club feels that People of Color community at NTID has recently feel fed up, uneasy and oppressed by others on campus. He shared his own experience how he felt a professor could of use other ways of communicating with him rather than using a Public Safety officer.
NTID Student Congress President Kristina Bernhardt wrote a response letter back to Dr. Buckley expressing No Confidence in the NTID Administration.
She writes, ‘”When we present our concerns and ideas on solving these concerns, we are simply told by your administration that we simply “do not understand how the system works,””have no knowledge of institutional politics,” and “are in no place to do such things.” Furthermore, some inquiries about potential improvements are even met with anger. That is a problem”. It reinforces the climate of fear.’
Even more, she expresses the lack of the administration wiliness to take action on a long list of suggestions that was presented to them.
She writes more specifically, “Communication Access Now (CAN) and Ebony Club (EC) presented you their letters of despair regarding the issues on campus nearly a year ago and they still feel despair and frustration just as much they did a year ago, because of how they feel their concerns were dismissed or invalidated.”
Thus, she writes that the NTID student community decided to vote of no confidence in the NTID administration.
Kristina list several dissatisfactions with the outcome of the Convocation.
- The lack of having interpreters of color at the Convocation itself.
- The planning committee lack of addressing students concerns and suggestions.
- Disagreement with have Dr. Tom Humphries as the keynote speaker and the students advocated for Person of Color to be a keynote speaker instead.
- Lack of commonality in the agenda at the Convocation.
- Lack of sensitivity when Dr. DeCaro mentioned that the audience could write questions on index cards or if they could speak, they could go to the microphone and ask a question, indicating that there was a filter imposed on sign language using members comparatively to members who can speak.
- Staff and Faculty members kept leaving and the audience kept shrinking, showing that the importance of listening, analyzing and supporting student concerns was not emphasized nor encouraged.
- Many students felt it was not respectful nor courteous of Dr. DeCaro to continuously attempt to cut the student representative panel short when they were promised to be giving a mere hour out of the entire 7-8 hour long convocation.
- Dr. DeCaro’s community email that indicated how we are a “community of whiners” and implied that they did not offer solutions.
- Lack of action by Dr. DeCaro and Dr. Buckley has led the NTID community that NTID administration simply exhibits the act of listening and that is where it ends there.