Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Hunger Strike in Flint

29. November 2005 • MarkDilley
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I learned about this from Blackbox Radio when going there to check out their report regarding the new Mott Children’s Hospital.

In Flint, students are entering a 2nd week of protest outside the Michigan School for the Deaf. Ryan Commerson, a former teacher at the school, began his hunger strike named “starving for access” last week to call for better education for students, the hiring of a deaf principal, and employing staff members who are fluent in American Sign Language. The local protest has gained national attention and has been joined by a deaf and blind man from Minnesota and a deaf school counselor from Washington, D.C.

On Monday, 43 out of the 160 students at the school were suspended for participating in the protest. Senior-class President Tar Burt says the school needs to change but is resistant to calls for better conditions. Earlier in the week school officials said they had offered to talk with Mr. Commerson but that he canceled a meeting. Commerson has been on a diet of juice and water since last Monday. Updates of the ongoing protest can be found at

for the Mott Children’s Hospital info:

Since April of this year, plans have been underway to build a new Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan. The building plans have drawn criticism, however, due to environmental and health concerns. On fliers that have been circulating throughout Ann Arbor, opponents of the building plans explained that “the hospital system is the largest consumer of power in Ann Arbor. Emissions from the U of M power plant blow east over low-income Ypsilanti and Detroit Neighborhoods, where asthma rates are through the roof. Our children’s hospital has a special responsibility to provide healthcare without harm.”

The flier went on to explain the benefits of a greener facility, such as cleaner indoor air and natural light to help kids heal while they are hospitalized.

Mott’s peer institution in Pittsburgh, which is currently planning on a green built facility for about $200 per square foot less than U of M’s proposed structure, was also cited as evidence of green building’s economic feasibility. Residents are urged to contact Mott leaders and show their support for an environmentally friendly Mott Children’s Hospital.

Bravo folks… nice work.

  1. I saw no talk of demanding a deaf principal on the starving for access blog. Ryan’s list from November 26 states he’s after “a qualified principal experienced in Bilingual Deaf Education”.

    I hope this was an innocent mistype on the part of blackbox radio. Demanding a deaf principal could be counter productive to the goals of the hunger strike – that is, better education – and would definitely be discriminatory against incredibly talented educational professionals who’ve dedicated their lives to deaf children, but just happen to have their hearing intact.
       —FAA    Nov. 29 '05 - 02:23PM    #
  2. Actually, the source is the Flint Journal:

    We agree completely with your comments about dedicated educators.
       —kris    Nov. 30 '05 - 04:47PM    #
  3. My name is Megan and Im deaf but I don’t belong to MSD but yet I know Ryan C. Hes my good friend that really brave about this situation. I have always wanted to go protest at MSD but yeah, Im really proud of him what he did. Its show me that he have a strenght for this. I hope things at MSD will become successful.
       —Megan    Dec. 2 '05 - 12:07AM    #
  4. Who exactly has been circulating the fliers about Mott’s? Are any EJ/health groups putting their names on them, or is it more of an an-hoc effort?
       —Pam    Dec. 4 '05 - 10:08PM    #