The chief diversity officer at Gallaudet University has spoken out, saying she should be reinstated, as well as receiving fair compensation for the embarrassment and emotional damage her suspension caused.

Dr Angela McCaskill, associate provost of diversity and inclusion, at the specialist university, said she signed the petition to send the issue of equal marriage to a vote in Maryland, because she supports the democratic system, and that she thought the decision to put her on leave was “utterly wrong.”

“The students are watching. The world is watching,” Dr McCaskill said through a sign language interpretor at a press conference in Annapolis, “I ask that the administration makes the right decision and rights their wrongs.”

“I’m dismayed that Gallaudet University is still a university of intolerance, of management by intimidation, which allows bullying among faculty, staff and students,” she said.

According to Dr McCaskill, a colleague of hers had asked her if she signed the petition, and when she responded she had, the colleague then wrote to Principal T Alan Hurwitz asking him to take disciplinary action against her, reported the Washington Times.

Dr T Alan Hurwitz then placed Dr McCaskill on paid administrative leave, saying that some people had found her signature on the petition to be “inappropriate”, and that he would look into the issue further.

Her attorney, J. Wyndal Gordon, said that after hearing a sermon at church about marriage, Dr McCaskill took the decision to sign the petition. She said the fact that she signed it did not indicate that she was opposed to equal marriage, and that she wanted to exercise her right to participate in civil discourse on the issue.

Dr Hurwitz released a statement on Tuesday saying explicitly that he would like to reinstate Dr McCaskill, but that she had initially been placed on leave so that he could determine whether or not her signature on the petition interfered with her ability to do her job. He said:

“While I expect that a resolution of this matter can be reached that will enable Dr McCaskill to continue as our chief diversity officer, this will require that she and the University community work together to respond to the concerns that have been raised.”

Dr McCaskill’s attorney described the statement as a “flip-flop” and said that he doubted the sincerity of what the school’s president had said, citing the media attention on the issue.

Last week, those on both sides of the equal marriage debate called for the university to reinstate the chief diversity officer in the name of freedom of expression, after she was put on paid leave.

A petition urging the university to reinstate the chief diversity officer, featured on the homepage of the Family Research Council website, and by noon last Friday, it had contained 15,000 signatures.

According to her biography on the Gallaudet website, Dr McCaskill was the first deaf African American female to earn a Ph.D. there, serves on the Board of Trustees of the Maryland School for the Deaf, and has a lengthy résumé of positions held at the university, where she has worked for 23 years.

The Gallaudet University Twitter page says it is “the world’s only university where programs and services are designed for deaf & hard of hearing students.”