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UO ASL Professor Fired For In-Class Comment

The Oregon Daily Emerald is reporting that University of Oregon American Sign Language Professor Peter Quint has been fired for a comment he made to a student in his ASL 203 course on May 4th. From the article:

Quint began the class Wednesday with a personal story about being confronted by a group of men with guns while traveling in Pakistan with a group of friends. According to students, Quint, who is deaf, explained he was able to get out of the situation safely because he could communicate to the men that he was not a threat.

The story was intended to highlight the importance of communication, students said. It came about after several students repeatedly ignored Quint’s requests to only sign conversation. Quint lost his hearing due to meningitis when he was two and insisted students only sign during his classes so everyone could participate.

According to students present, later in Wednesday’s class, Quint noticed that a student spoke rather than signed, got upset and asked the student, “Do you want me to shoot you?”

“He wasn’t saying he was actually going to shoot anyone,” Claire Johnson, who is in several of Quint’s classes this term, said of the comment, adding that it was intended to relate back to the story and was taken out of context. “I didn’t find it threatening.”

While an inappropriate comment, certainly, was Quint entirely out of line? I’ve never taken an American Sign Language class, but I have taken the 200-level Spanish sequence, and in those classes we were required to speak Spanish. Indeed, in 201, if you spoke English at all the professor would not acknowledge your question or comment.

It doesn’t seem like this situation should be any different, especially since ASL now counts for language requirements in preparation for a Bachelor of Arts degree. And especially since Quint could not hear his students, whereas most if not all Spanish profs at the UO can speak English, the need to sign was even more immediate.

According to the rest of the article, the students in Quint’s classes were not given much if any say in the process of his termination. Who made the decision to fire him, and what was their motivation? Did Quint have tenure, and did that contribute to his firing?

This story, needless to say, is developing. We’ll provide more information as it comes available.

  1. ASL Blog says:

    I think you’re right on the money here. Talk about getting taken out of context – wow!

  2. Sloppy Joe says:

    Why don’t you go cry about it?

  3. monalisasmiles says:

    @Haskin: The term is almost over and the Commentator hasn’t failed to attack every other student publication on campus. Great job at making yourselves look bad.

  4. Java says:

    What you have written clarifies precisely the “common sense” to which I referred. Why presume I would be thinking of anything less?

  5. k says:

    common sense? what are you referring to? What the administration did was hasty and maybe even shady. We are looking into the details for factual evidence and proof of what happened, but it seems to me that the UO acted hastily and terminated a professors career when a more suitable course of action could have been taken. It is not even clear whether or not students from his classes were involved with the process of the profs removal, which again indicates to me that their may have been other motives for firing him.

  6. Java says:

    It’s my hope at least a percentage of you will graduate with a degree in common sense.

  7. Jeremy says:

    Yeah, this seems messed up. Looking forward to further updates on this story.

  8. Best part-prof. gets fired halfway through the term and the dirty doesn’t put it on the front page. Congrats on being complete and utter failures guys.

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