Letter from Ebony Club

See NTID’s Response to this Ebony Club Letter

December 9, 2015

Dr. Gerald Buckley
President, National Technical Institute for the Deaf

We, Ebony Club, want to thank you for joining us for our lunch gathering with our panelists for the #BlackLivesMatter event that took place on Saturday, November 14. You mentioned to all of us to let you know what you can do to help us. We are taking that opportunity to express our concerns regarding the lack of focus on all aspects about diversity within the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

We come from an understanding of the Ubuntu philosophy which is an Nguni Bantu term roughly translating to “human kindness” or “I am, because of you.” We do not see the spirit of Ubuntu here in the NTID community yet and do need your assistance in order to foster that spirit. To further your understanding of Ubuntu, please refer to Boyd Varty’s TedTalk session.

We appreciate the NTID community but we do not feel safe among the faculty, staff, and administrators on the campus.  We can’t find the right people to talk because there are not many faculty of colors on the campus.  We went through a lot of struggle with English system, test placement system, and many other struggles here at NTID. Specifically, the students of color here are faced with the dilemma regarding the inequality and the lack of understanding and compassion among the faculty on the campus. Due to NTID’s predominated white faculty, a certain percentage of them already have a mindset that students of color are more likely to not equally succeed as students are white or most likely to fail.

We have the following specific concerns and would like these concerns to be addressed by the administration of NTID.

  1. There is a need for more faculty, staff, and administrators of color hires and retention. We don’t see a lot of faculty, staff, and administrators of color on campus.  There are lot of students of color on campus, but they need support by the faculty, staff, and administrators of color. We, would like to establish and serve on the committee that will review each department’s progress in hiring that where create opportunity for progress for faculty of color who has work experience with intersectionality and social justice
  2. All search committees to fill a job vacancy are to include a staff, faculty, or administrator of color and a student of color to ensure that bias does not take place. Additionally, the search committees must go through a training and foster a culture within the committee for everyone to have a safe space to share their inputs and perspectives without being excluded or not taken in consideration
  3. We want you, NTID, to hire an off campus consultant training service to work with the faculty, staff, and administrators regarding intersectionality, social justice, and multiculturalism.  
  4. Students of color should not have to worry about safety on campus as they should already feel safe with their surroundings and interactions with people. Examples of surroundings include classrooms, hallways, parking lots, and social events for example. Examples of interactions include a meeting with a NTID Academic Advisor/Counselor, teacher, student conduct hearing, chairperson, and administrators. As we all know that d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals do need to work harder or more compare with our hearing peers which we all are trying to create equal access. The same applies to faculty, staff, and administrators, to give the same equal access for students of color so they do not need to work twice as hard to prove themselves compare to their peers who have white privileges and faculty creating unnecessary barriers or stereotypes that students of color cannot succeed equally with their peers who are white.
  5. We will like to see that NTID provide courses that focus on intersectionality of identities that represents different cultures (Black, Latin, Asian, etc.), gender, ability, sexual orientation, additional disabilities, and others in order to help students of color develop their identity. Those courses are to be developed, implemented, and taught by faculty of color and has strong knowledge and experience in these areas.  
  6. Have staff, faculty, and administrators, of color who can volunteer or serve as an on-call consultant when a student of color meets with a teacher, chairperson, or student conduct, for example, to provide additional perspective and advocacy per the student’s request. The majority of individuals within NTID are not familiar or has a limited knowledge of the real history and cultural influence prevents them from having the insight to understand students of color and their testimonies.

We will like to implement a collaborative group of faculty, staff, administrators, and students of color to establish a Committee of Racial Equality. This committee will be charged with ensuring that diversity education is provided, hiring and retention practices for individuals of color, and implement opportunities for collaboration with groups such as Latin American Deaf Club, Ebony Club, Asian Deaf Club, WOLK’s Jewish Culture Center, Student Interpreting Association, NTID Diversity Group, and Student Life Team for instance.

We are more than happy to meet with you to discuss this further. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Ebony Club
“One Love, One Family”

Demara Jeanty, President               
Sonya Smith, Vice President

Krystal Starks, Public Relations            

Leele Girma, Secretary           

Nathaniel Hartman, Social & Cultural Director   

Danayt Gafo, Public Relations

Malik Morris, Community Service Director       

Victoria Foster, Alumni Advisor