Gallaudet Fence

One thing that bothers me: Gallaudet community says that the fence around campus should remain. If the fence comes down, hearing people will go on campus and use the space as their own. That would de-centralize Deaf ownership of the campus and become hearing-dominated. I understand that point… But Gallaudet was founded in 1864, and at that time there was no fence. At the time Gallaudet was on the countryside at the edge of the city of DC. Florida Avenue, formerly called Boundary road defined the division. In the 1900’s… to the 1940’s, Trinidad developed into a residential neighborhood. Ivy City, the area up north of Gallaudet was there before Gallaudet was founded. It used to be a railroad community with a strong African-American population, and it has been there for a long time. Union Market was established in the 1920’s with a peak in the 1945’s, 1950’s even through World War II, there were a lot of people there. Notice that the years I shared were all before the 1968 riots. The 1968 riots, triggered with MLK’s assassination, was an uproar that included the burning of H Street, leading to military and government intervention. Most of the city was destroyed, as with many other cities. By the 1970’s, most white people left the cities (“White Flight”). They abandoned the ruins from the riots, closed their businesses, and left the city —leaving the destroyed city mostly to the African-American community. Afterwards, the city was viewed as dangerous. In 1971, Gallaudet put up the fence around campus. In 1971— so keep in mind that before 1971 Gallaudet didn’t have a fence, but they had Union Market, Ivy City, and Trinidad, all thriving neighborhoods full of life and things going on. But with the White Flight and the economical crash from the riots, Gallaudet barricaded itself with a fence. Gallaudet didn’t become substantially involved with the neighboring community since then, up until the 6th Street Project… which Gallaudet owns a little parcel of land outside its fence. It wants to establish retail, to host Deaf-owned businesses— and will they? Gallaudet can’t really promise that as they need to partner with Deaf-owned businesses, there needs to be some that express interest in the 6th Street development, too. Back to the point, the 6th Street development is making people say that they DON’T want the fence to come down. Deaf and hearing people have cohabited in the area up until 1971. That is more than a hundred years that Gallaudet operated without fences. Now with Union Market being redeveloped, Ivy City making a comeback, and Trinidad always being there, we say we don’t want the fences to come down out of fear that hearing people will take over. No. That is what I call leading out of fear. I believe that Gallaudet community should move forward showing what the Deaf community has to offer showcase Deaf talents, resources, and retail. We should make profit from that, showing others that we claim this space, showing others how Gallaudet moves forward. Not by staying behind our fence and telling others to stay out because this is our space. What kind of relationship is that? Gallaudet hasn’t been there for the DC community, and don’t want the fences to come down. It shows that Gallaudet still doesn’t have anything to offer, but taking down the fence will force Gallaudet to take charge of developing relationships with the hearing community. That is a reality we need to connect. Those people who say we need to keep the fence… for safety issues… Please. Many DC universities are a part of the city, and crime rates there are similar to Trinidad. If you really want to know what is going on here in DC… well, there’s A LOT. A lot of places are being developed, and we need to keep up. Where are the Deaf people involved in these plans? I encourage you, including myself, to become more involved with that. Gallaudet fence should one day—soon—be taken down.

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Reader Comments

  1. dan brubaker

    agree with what you've said. and how many colleges/universities in the DC metro area has a complete fence around its campus? an additional food for thought.

  2. Stacy Wakefield

    I love that idea but, yes that infamous but, Gallaudet has two schools that involves kids. MSSD and KGSD. If it were not for those kids, go for it.  
    Fence did saved our lives in 1980s. 1980s was awful period for any one attended or work in Gallaudet, MSSD and KGSD. We were actually in middle of drug war which happened in our "backyard". In my dorm at MSSD, to be speciafied Dorm E, my room had TWO bullet holes. Yes those were from drug war, 1985.

    And fence was the biggest tool for DPN 1988. Gallaudet campus has a long love/hate relationship with those fences. Maybe leave fences around MSSD and KGSD but can take down the front fence of Gallaudet campus, Florida Ave fence. That I will support. Good discussion.

  3. Michael Cooper

    It's 2017 now. If we want to remove systematic and institutional racism, removing fence would be an excellent way to integrate the Gallaudet University further into the DC community. I agree, it's long overdue.

  4. Susan Bartose

    Look at Harvard and Princeton.. they do have fences around campus? Think it look just pretty or some purpose to guard around campus? Had to be for some reasons?

  5. Jean Beers

    How many university campuses have not only college classes (with college student and family dorms) but also all age students? Gallaudet is a unique location both in concept and geography.

  6. TheLastHiccup

    I'm glad you did that, thank you! Well, I guess you got more attention than I did—wrote a blog about it two months ago. "Gallaudet College: The Fence"–the link below:

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