“No Speaking On Campus” Contract Rumor Put To Rest

By Sofie Heilmann

Rumor had it that hearing undergraduate students were required to sign a form where they agreed not to speak or talk on phones while on campus. However, an investigation into the issue has shown that this is not the case.

A source, speaking under the condition of anonymity, reported that she signed a form that apparently required students to agree to do their best to not speak or to talk on a phone in public on campus during the HUG (Hearing Undergraduate) orientation week. Although she questioned the ethics, she went ahead and signed the form anyway.

This student’s perception of what this “form” is all about, however, appears to be based on a misunderstanding.

Sara Malkowski, who coordinated the workshop for the HUG orientation week, explains that there was no form requiring hearing students to do their best to not speak or talk on phones while on campus.

Malkowski explains that the only form that HUG students signed was a form where they confirmed that they understood the workshop both in ASL and English. This could have made the new HUG students confused and possibly led them to think that Gallaudet University required them to sign a form stating speaking and phone conversations are not allowed.

Malkowski mentions that during the workshop she discussed how the deaf students at Gallaudet University may feel about hearing students speaking and having a phone conversation, and she encouraged the new HUG students to be aware of when and where they speak or talk on phones.

“I made the decision to include the Department of Interpretation’s language policy because I felt it could be applied to all hearing students. The policy encourages students to use ASL as often as they can, and refrain from using SIM-COM because it would impede their ASL and cultural development” Malkowski explained.

The Department of Interpretation’s language policy states that Gallaudet University is a bi-lingual university, where BAI (BA in interpretation) students are highly encouraged to use ASL at all times when they are around the department. This language policy is on every syllabus in all interpretation related classes. The policy also encourages BAI students to use ASL all the time: outside of class, in the library, and at other locations on campus.

“We ask this not only because of the respect it shows,” the language policy states “but also because of the messages sent when someone who can sign chooses not to when they are in the department and at the University.”

Nowhere on this language policy is there anything that says students are required not to speak or talk on phones while on campus.

Malkowski mentioned she could see how a form encouraging students to use sign language on campus “could cause confusion and feelings of being forced to follow certain behaviors.”

Malkowski further states: “Students appeared [at the time it was first created] to understand that the form served as an attendance tool and to ensure there were no misunderstandings. I can assume that what I observed was not how all the students actually felt. I did encourage students to speak with myself as well as my faculty sponsor, their academic advisor or the Ombuds if they had any concerns and no one came forward after the workshop or during the school year. It now appears that there are students who felt as if they were pressured into behaving a certain way, and it is unfortunate that they did not speak up for clarification on this matter earlier.”

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