President T. Alan Hurwitz, who was traveling Thursday and unavailable for comment, said in a statement Tuesday that university leaders want to work with McCaskill to enable her to return. But McCaskill said at a news conference Tuesday that she considered herself fired.
‘‘I'm dismayed that Gallaudet University is still a university of intolerance, a university that manages by intimidation, a university that allows bullying among faculty, staff and students,’’ she said.
As chief diversity officer, McCaskill’s role is to foster a supportive learning environment for all students, regardless of race, sexual orientation or other differences. Before the petition controversy, McCaskill was well-liked in the LGBT community and was instrumental in setting up an LGBT resource center, students said.
Alumni are tracking the news closely, alumni association president Alyce Slator Reynolds said.
‘‘A large number of people from both sides are upset,’’ Reynolds wrote in an email.
Some Gallaudet students are uncomfortable with homosexuality, although they appear to be in the minority. Michai Hanley, a 20-year-old psychology major who wore a T-shirt reading ‘‘Jesus (heart) Me,’’ said through an interpreter that many of her fellow students may not understand McCaskill’s religious beliefs.
Some students said that while Gallaudet is progressive about sexuality, it still has unresolved issues relating to race. McCaskill was the first deaf black woman to earn a Ph.D. from the university, which is 11 percent black.
‘‘Gallaudet needs to accept the accountability that they did not provide a safe place for Angela, especially as a deaf woman of color,’’ Derrick Behm, 21, chief of staff to the student body government, wrote in an email.
Others just hope the situation will blow over.
‘‘My belief is that she’s not against homosexuality,’’ Robert Ballengee, 36, a senior social work major, said through an interpreter. ‘‘She’s a very sweet woman; she’s an awesome woman. I don’t know why it’s becoming such a big deal.’’
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