WASHINGTON – At least one student was injured Wednesday when officials at the nation's top university for the deaf and hearing impaired brought in heavy construction equipment to open a gate that protesting students had blocked for 20 days.
Gallaudet University maintenance workers cut a chain that was being used to block a side entrance and used a construction vehicle to move a tent city the students had built, protest leaders said. Other protesters then used their cars to block the gate again.
One protester was treated at the scene for a minor injury, D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services spokesman Alan Etter said.
Graduate student Brian Morrison said his toe was injured when workers moved one of the gates.
"I was just standing there peacefully holding the gate with my arms and got injured doing so," he said.
One other injured student went to the hospital on his own, faculty member Kathleen Wood said.
The construction equipment arrived after protesters demanding the resignation of incoming university president Jane K. Fernandes occupied the school's main administration building in the early morning hours. They had left by the time school officials got there, but campus security officers had to remove doors that the students had locked.
Protesters have said Fernandes, the school's former provost, is divisive and ineffective as a leader for the university. The faculty has overwhelmingly voted to ask Fernandes to resign or be removed.
Fernandes has said she is determined to become the university's president when current leader I. King Jordan leaves in January. She said protesters have made her the focus of their frustrations over changes in deaf culture. Fernandes, 49, was born deaf but did not learn American Sign Language until she was in her 20s.