Student Association President Lamar Thorpe announced he will not use SA funds to provide materials for student-protesters camping out at Gallaudet University, heeding the calls of some senators.
Thorpe visited the campus last week to decide if the SA should provide support for students opposing the incoming president of the university. They maintain that Jane Fernandes, the president-designate at the country’s only deaf liberal arts college, does not represent deaf culture because she has been able to speak since childbirth and did not learn American Sign Language until age 23. Opponents also say Fernandes is cold and lacks leadership skills, and they claim the presidential search committee lacked diversity.
“You have my word: we are not going to use any SA funds for that,” said Thorpe, a senior, who will now be using privately raised money to pay for the expenses.
An SA vice president purchased $141 worth of food, water, blankets, coal and fire-starting supplies with his own money Monday night for Gallaudet students.
Last Friday, 134 Gallaudet protesters were arrested by university police after blockading the campus and shutting down the college for three days.
Thorpe said that, as of Tuesday night, he has raised a total of $250 and is still accepting donations for the student protesters.
At Monday’s meeting, Thorpe expressed his support for the Gallaudet student protesters and encouraged SA senators to also support the students. “I challenge anyone in this room to walk past those ropes at Gallaudet and come out with the same mentality (you entered with),” Thorpe said.
Senators including senior Luke Moses (CCAS-U) and junior Marc Abanto (U-At Large) supported Thorpe and voiced their commitment to the Gallaudet students.
Moses, however, said that he will no longer bring forth a proposed SA resolution calling for the group’s official support of Gallaudet student protesters.
Moses said that such a resolution would not produce any “tangible results” for GW or Gallaudet students and would waste the SA’s limited time.
Abanto said that the SA is still trying to find the best course of action to address the needs of the Gallaudet students and that Thorpe’s use of private funds is a good choice for the SA executive.
“I am glad that Thorpe is taking action,” Abanto said. “If he is using personal funds, I have no problem with that.”
SA Senator Chris Rotella (CCAS-U) said that Thorpe should engage in fundraising for strictly personal reasons and not on behalf of the SA.
Rotella, a junior, said that Thorpe’s decision to use private funds instead of SA money is an improvement, but still sends a mixed message.
“It is still wrong that the SA executive is taking an official stance on this,” Rotella said. “Gallaudet has nothing to do with GW students.”
Thorpe said he is attempting to help a cause.
“I am a student advocate,” Thorpe said. “I am working in my capacity as SA president and the executive is going to continue with our work. I am not involving senators anymore.”
At a time when GW will soon be undergoing its own presidential selection process, Thorpe said it is essential to be there for Gallaudet students.
Thorpe said: “support will ensure that we will have a fair and balanced presidential search ourselves.”