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Davila, The Pride Of Gallaudet…And RIT/NTID, Too!

Time to wind up the good ol’ RIT vs. Gallaudet rivalry again.

Except that, this time, distinguished Gallaudet President Dr. Davila, not a bunch of drunk, obscene adolescents at a pep rally, started it.

I refer to this video clip from the September 6th Town Hall meeting posted on Gallaudet’s website. It’s a rousing speech, a call to action on the part of students and alumni to say great things about their university. Say no negative things! Reasonable enough.

At first glance, I can understand why this particular snippet, out of everything else Dr. Davila had said during that meeting, was picked for the website. The message is relevant to anyone who considers themselves a part of the Gallaudet community.

But! Towards the end of the video, he says:

We need good students…I found them when I was working at NTID and I intend to look for the students again to find them and bring them to Washington, not Rochester!

Ouch!

I will here now reveal my disclaimers. I love this guy. He’s from my hometown area in southern California. I first met this man when I was 15 years old. He personally got me my second co-op, with which I needed to graduate on-time. As the highest-serving hearing-impaired person in Federal government, Dr. Davila is an incredible role model for deaf people everywhere. I am so proud that he was the vice-president of NTID, and I am thrilled beyond belief that he is now the ninth president of Gallaudet University. He is quite possibly the most distinguished deaf person alive. It’s almost too bad his particular presidency comes with an expiration date.

But…this statement, this “Washington, not Rochester!” statement. Now, now, was it really necessary to say that, Dr. Davila?

The easiest conclusion to draw is that people apparently were still wondering if Dr. Davila was still “loyal” to RIT/NTID, and that Dr. Davila made this statement to allay any fears of a Sinister Conspiracy between him and his former employer.

Such fears are ludicrous. If you have actually shared this concern–or even worse, voiced it out loud–shame on you. By doing so, you had temporarily lost perspective of how things work in the real world, and worse, elevated what is a nice, cute intercollegiate rivalry into something it really shouldn’t be. But back to the president.

Another conclusion could be that Dr. Davila really is a gung-ho Gallaudet alumnus and wanted to prove it.

Fair enough. The Gallaudet community trashes RIT/NTID on a regular basis. I’d love to take the higher road and say we (as in the RIT/NTID community) don’t do it, but we do it, too. It’s fun when meted out in small portions with a friendly smirk on the side. It’s undiplomatic, but we’re just students and alumnus from rival colleges. It comes with the job.

Dr. Davila isn’t just an alumnus, however. He’s a president. That means he needs to be diplomatic. So…nope. It wasn’t okay to say that at the Town Hall, nope.

Dr. Davila, everything you said before that was great, and I’m pretty sure you would have made an equal impact had you not said what you said at the end. I’ll be honest here. What you said hurt a little.

But shucks, we can’t un-say things. Don’t worry. We at RIT/NTID are still proud that you were our leader at one point. I believe that most, if not all, of us are equally proud that you’re now serving Gallaudet’s community as well. We’re supporting you all the way.

So, please don’t slap our faces just to stir up a rivalry or to strengthen your position with those who question your commitment to your job.

Speaking of which, you seem to be doing a nice job. Keep it up, Bob!

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