East Hawaii News

UH-Hilo Addresses TMT Impact on Campus

April 8, 2015, 7:12 AM HST
* Updated April 8, 7:59 AM
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Protests against the Thirty Meter Telescope have not only taken place atop Mauna Kea, but also thousands of feet below on the campus of the University of Hawai’i at Hilo. Students and community members have gathered to protest in front of the Edwin H. Mookini Library.

UH-Hilo’s Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Gail Makuakane-Lundin, said in letter to students Tuesday that class attendance has been an issue as a result.

“The start of construction on the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea is prompting demonstration events on both our campus at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and on Maunakea. These events are affecting class attendance of some of our students.

“At UH Hilo, we respect the right of people to express themselves peacefully. We want the campus to be a place where multiple perspectives can be freely expressed in an atmosphere of mutual respect and where we can learn from many sources.  Our respect and aloha for one another will guide us well as we move forward.

“Students who are missing classes to attend demonstration events are advised to talk with their instructors to consider possible options such as extra time for projects, examinations or quizzes to complete the semester; grades of incomplete for the semester; or complete withdrawal.”

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Earlier this week, UH-Hilo’s Chancellor, Donald Straney, issued a statement on the TMT protests and UH-Hilo’s stance on varying perspectives.

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“I’m sure you’re aware of the recent events on Maunakea prompted by the start of construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope. These events have greatly affected some members of our University of Hawai‘i at Hilo ‘ohana and others from our island and state.

“A healthy university is one that embraces diverse subject matter, wide debate, and constructive argument. At UH Hilo, we respect the right of people to express themselves peacefully. Our respect and aloha for one another will guide us well as we move forward.

“Later this week, we will join with Hawai‘i Community College to host a series of events designed to help us understand the varying perspectives and viewpoints about Maunakea (Mauna a Wākea). We believe it is important to provide opportunities for our students, faculty, staff and larger community to gather together and to learn from many sources.”

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As of press time, plans for the series of events mentioned by Chancellor Straney have not been announced.

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