Town hall

NTID President Gerard Buckley held his second town hall session for the NTID student community. He shared that he wanted to have a town hall session monthly to address concerns and questions from the community relevant to his agenda. This recent town hall meeting, March 3rd, 2017 in Panara Theatre, was live streamed and captioned available to those who have a RIT log-in account. About three days before the town hall, Gerard Buckley sent out an email on February 28th, 2017 to the community addressing the students by providing a brief statement of when and where the second town hall will be held and outlining the town hall topics — 1. Federal Budget Update — Dr. Buckley, 2. President’s Commission Update — Professor Behm, 3. Access Model Update — Ken Finton, 4. Spectrum Club Update — Dr. Lloyd and Caitlin Kight, 5. April Forum — Dr. Buckley. The topics provided, out of all five, only two touches on the five changes highlighted in Buckley’s Moving Forward email address. The Federal Budget Update and Access Model Update. I want to cover what the presenters shared regarding the topics and share my perspective as to what transpired in NTID’s second town hall meeting.

NTID President, Vice-President & Dean of RIT, Gerard Buckley gave a presentation on the Federal Budget Update. Buckley is responsible for working with Congress and outside sources to fundraise and bring NTID money for their operation. Buckley gave an update on the Federal Budget and talked about Trump’s proposed increase in military spending and how that could potentially impact the different departments under the Federal government. He explained how we’re currently in Fiscal Year 2017 with federal funding of $70 million dollars and since the FY16, funding has been flat. Flat as in there’s no increase or decrease in money. He shares that that the president of the U.S. is supposed to announce the budget proposal around May. Then Congress will have to negotiate and approve the budget. Buckley highlighted information that has been running in the press — the President proposed a $54billion increase for Defense and Military. With such a large increase, where would the money come from? Of course, departments similar to education may face up to a 12% budget cuts. This is a cut in education budget, not to NTID specifically, yet. He was quick to mention that the proposal just happened and it is a negotiation process. Buckley then proceeded with a new slide that listed four different cut percentage and cost of cut — 1. 1% cut= $700,000, 2. 5% cut= $3.5 million, 3. 10% cut= $7 million, 4. 12% cut= $8.4 million. He shared that four years ago congress cut the budget and that “we” have fought to get that money back. We will not find out when the final budget may be announced but it’ll probably be in May. he then shares that on Thursday, we found out that Environmental Protection Agency got a 34% cut in their budget. Going back to the fact that we might not find out until May, Gerry shared that it could also possibly go on until December because sometimes Congress goes back and forth on the budget until they approve it. Until then, Buckley and Bernard Hurwitz will go back and forth from Rochester to DC to talk with Congress on a monthly basis. When Buckley and Hurwitz go to Congress, they inform and educate them about NTID’s success in employment placement, which by the way is 94% after graduation. Congress find the fact that we help students with job training and employment placement rate appealing. NTID will not know more until late spring/early summer. For now, they’re going to prepare a variety of possibilities such as flat line funding, 1%, 2% or even 10% cut. That’s when the administrators will sit down and figure out what to do. They obviously have to prioritize and high priority are the instruction of the students and access service. He affirms that we need courses in order to graduate and access service in order to participate and graduate from RIT/NTID. With those as high priority, we can’t touch those while they’ll have to take a look lower down on their list to figure out what to do there. He shared that NTID has about 20 positions open. NTID will continue to fill those positions but if there’s something like a 12% cut to the budget, then they may have to freeze the hiring process. He asks that students help by firstly, using our resources wisely and secondly, to share our employment/co-op outcome success stories to actually reinforce NTID’s mission to strengthen Congress’ conviction in our ability to succeed. By using our resources wisely, this means making sure you actually attend the events that you make a request on because 10% of the requests put in, the students don’t show up. There could be reasons behind this too and he quickly mentions that it’s faculty members as well. If there’s 40,000 of hours per week, 10% is 400 hours a week that’s lost. As for the second part, a lot of students are on a co-op. NTID depends on those testimonials and stories of students co-op experience to share with Congress. He brought forth some positivity by sharing that NTID has in the past 50 years faced challenges by successfully working together on this obstacles. It’s a constant battle he has to endure meeting with Congress each month. He feels positive sharing those stories with Congress. This presentation touches one of the five topics on the Moving Forward electronic address Gerard sent out months ago.

For the President’s Commission Update, Gary Behm held the stage for about one minute giving a very brief explanation on the President’s Commission. Gary is the chairperson of the Presidential Commission on the NTID Student Experience. He is also on the NTID Administrative Council (NAC) as the Director of the Center of Access Technology. He explained that the commission has been working on the four charges Dr. Destler gave them and will be soon handing in their recommendations on March 15th and to keep an eye out for that before walking off stage. The topic touched on Dr. Destler’s electronic address sent out through Linda Hoke, “Presidential Commission on the NTID Student Experience.”

Kenneth Finton, the new NTID Service Request Manager for the Department of Access Service, gave an update on the Access Model Refinement. Kenneth shared that they are supporting 32 out of 36 classes bringing to a total of 135 hours per week. He empathized on the fact that captioning services also require interpreting services which also increases the hours.

Bryan Lloyd, NTID Counseling & Academic Service Assistant Director and Spectrum Advisor, and Caitlin Kight, Spectrum President, and NTID Student, gave an update on the LGBT Student Community issues on behalf of NTID President’s office.

Gerard Buckley April Forum


Overall Thoughts

Out of all five topics, only two are touched from the Moving forward address. The five topics the moving forward address are — 1. NTID Access Model Refinement, 2. NTID Faculty American Sign Language Expectation, 3. NTID STEM Future Faculty Development Program, 4. Diversity and Inclusion, & 5. Funding Outlook. Though I am appreciative of at least having two topics covered, I am curious about Diversity and Inclusion and what the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee have been up to. What progress has been made by Peter Hauser and Kim Kurz on the NTID Faculty American Sign Language expectations.

Throughout the presentation, Gerry Buckley got interrupted with those who had some questions and had to continue reminding the audience that he’ll answers questions later. Maybe next time, Buckley can add times to the topics covered and add Q&A section to the agenda so attendees are aware that there’s a designated section of the town hall that will allow for them to ask questions.

The budget discussion seems serious. I can’t believe we’re potentially facing a 12% budget cut. Buckley was not clear on if it was a 12% cut to NTID’s budget or the Department of Education’s budget. How’s NTID prepared to make up for lost in federal funding? I understand we have a rainy day saving but that’s not going to last us forever, now is it? He mentioned that we have 20 positions available, what are those available positions?

When Buckley introduced Gary Behm, he mentioned that the last town hall meeting, Behm was cut short. If I recall correctly, each presenters talked for however long they did when all were slated for 10 minutes each. No one got cut or asked to wrap up their presentation. I’m not too entirely sure if that’s really the case. Further updates on Presidential Commission. Seems like space filler since Gary didn’t have much to update us on. Only presented for about a minute or so. Why didn’t Buckley have the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee present on their progress since they’re probably able to share more updates with us than the Presidential Commission?

I’m amazed at how much access we’re getting now! Kudos to the student community for working to get the administrators to finally take the plunge on completely removing FDI and bringing in Access Service. I wonder how much access hours did NTID have through FDI model and how does that compare to now. I also wonder how classroom experience improved with teachers and students now that access in NTID is accessible. Did the grades of the student improve? Or the teacher’s overall students average increase? What’s the overall prediction of increase or decrease in NTID service for next fall?

I’m disappointed that the NTID President’s Office hasn’t come out with a statement or stance affirming their support for LGBTQIA* students, faculty, staffs and community members. I find myself questioning Gerard’s intention on having Caitlin present on LGBT issues. He had the opportunity to share what he has learned and what he will ensure NTID will do. Why did he have a student do that? There was no affirmation in that. I, personally, feel that Caitlin could have done this presentation at NTID Student Assembly. It didn’t feel right to see Caitlin take the stage and present on serious matters and different resources and being the one that affirms NTID’s stance. Isn’t this a form of tokenism?

As for the Q&A session, it was cringe worthy to watch. I noticed one thing that gave me a vile feeling in my gut. When a student, Vincent Venutolo, took the stage to ask a question, he had an uncomfortable look that showed he didn’t exactly feel too safe to go on stage. This was largely indicated after Gerard Buckley seemed to scold Vincent in a passive aggressive way for not acknowledging Buckley when they both passed by each other recent Tuesday. You can see Vincent’s look of confusion and not understanding why Buckley would bring up such a thing in that manner. After Vincent asked Buckley a question and had it answered, Buckley brought it up again as Vincent left the stage! This is passive aggressive behavior. Who holds a grudge or upset feelings if someone didn’t acknowledge me in passing? That’s just questionable.

  • By the way! Annual Report 2016 is out and you can find it on the NTID President Website!

Sources/References —

  • Gerard Buckley Town Hall Session #2, March 3rd, 2017 in Parana Theatre (YouTube Stream as well)
  • Gerard Buckley, “Town Hall Meeting,” email to community on February 28th, 2017, 4:42pm. CC’d: Gary Behm, Kenneth Finton, Bryan Lloyd, Caitlin Kight, Peter Reeb, and Joseph Hamilton.
  • Gerard Buckley, “Moving Forward,” email to NTID Community on January 19th, 2017, 7:29pm.
  • Destler through Linda Hoke, “Presidential Commission on the NTID Student Experience,” email to NTID Community on February 3rd, 2017, 1:15pm.
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