By Caroline Que, Yahoo! Local
Gallaudet University in Northeast Washington is the star of a five-part series mtvU is launching next week, as first reported by the New York Times.
"Quiet Campus," which is set to premiere Oct. 24, will feature "a gay Latino student, a charismatic football player and a young woman who lost her hearing in chemotherapy treatment. There is also a young man trying to, as mtvU puts it, 'find his way out of the friend zone,' and perhaps kindle a romantic spark with the aforementioned cancer survivor," the Times reports.
If that sounds a little too much like "Real World" for you, here's the hook: Like the vast majority of Gallaudet's students, these young adults are deaf.
"Students here are just like students anywhere else," Gallaudet spokeswoman Catherine Murphy told the Times. "They're typical undergraduates."
Mercy Coogan, who works in the university's media relations office, told Yahoo! Local via email that the school hopes the series "will heighten residents' awareness of the fact that the world's premiere university for deaf and hard of hearing students is located in their midst — just blocks from Capitol Hill ... [and] provide folks in and around the District with an interesting and entertaining glimpse into deaf college life."
Coogan said the show follows students to some off-campus locations, including a restaurant and a club, so locals might spot a few familiar places and faces.
The university, at Eighth Street and Florida Avenue NE, has also been in the news recently for the changing composition of its student population. As the Washington Post reported, "for the first time in living memory, significant numbers of freshmen at the nation's premiere university for the deaf and hard of hearing arrive lacking proficiency in American Sign Language and experience with deaf culture," due in part to increased access to mainstream schools and the rise of cochlear implants.
Just five years ago, the campus was roiled by protests over the appointment of Jane Fernandes as president. "Born deaf, Fernandes grew up speaking English and learned to sign as an adult. She claimed that, to students advocating the primacy of sign language, she was 'not deaf enough,'" the Post reported. Fernandes's appointment was eventually revoked.
Coogan, the media relations official, said "Quiet Campus" crew members were "eager to learn about deaf culture" and "knew from the beginning that it was crucial" to the project's success. She said "the mtvU folks worked closely with Gallaudet's sign language interpreters to make sure that communication flowed smoothly and accurately."
More reading: Urban planning fans will enjoy this 2008 story about Gallaudet's effect on its neighborhood, and those following the move to rename some Metro stops can check out Gallaudet students' take on the New York Avenue station's name. Read the news release about "Quiet Campus" here.