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UH student group votes ‘no confidence’ in Lassner, regents

  • Krystle Marcellus /
    “We’re not increasing tuition because we need more money or because something else happened to us. It must be an actual budget requirement that must be agreed on

A University of Hawaii at Manoa student organization has passed resolutions voting no confidence in UH President David Lassner and the Board of Regents.

The Graduate Student Organization, which has about 50 members and represents 5,000 graduate students at Manoa, voted 31-2 for the resolution against Lassner and 33-1 against the board. The emailed vote was tallied Thursday.

GSO President Michelle Tigchelaar said the largely symbolic resolutions send a strong message after the abrupt firing of former Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple.

"It’s very indicative of how disappointed we are in the way that they’ve led this university," Tigchelaar said Sunday. "We are still trying to get answers and improve things from within the university."

The move is believed to be the first time the group has voted no confidence in either the president or the board.

"It’s really a way to signal to the rest of Hawaii that things at the university are seriously amiss," Tigchelaar said. "I think the board and the president are just waiting for the whole thing (surrounding Apple) to blow over and everybody to forget. I don’t think this is something that can easily be forgotten."

The group’s resolution on Lassner says he’s been non-transparent in removing Apple and appointing interim Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman.

The other resolution says the Board of Regents failed to conduct a rigorous presidential search and created an environment of mistrust between the board and the student body.

Lassner, in a statement Monday, expressed disappointment at the GSO action, but said he looks forward to working with the organization, the campus community, the Board of Regents and others to advance UH-Manoa.

The group’s vote of no confidence in Lassner comes less than one month after the UH-Manoa Faculty Senate censured Lassner for Apple’s firing.

Lassner, who began his tenure on July 1, terminated Apple on July 30 after an unsatisfactory performance review. Apple was two years into a five-year contract.

Tigchelaar said Lassner acknowledged that his evaluation process for Apple failed to include student and faculty comments, but he refused to redo the evaluation.

She said it may be unrealistic to bring Apple back as chancellor, but said she is concerned that Lassner and the regents are ignoring students’ concerns.

"Without students and faculty, there is no university," she said. "If we are so blatantly ignored and not communicated with, I think they’ve really lost perspective of what the university is all about."

Bret Polopolus-Meredith, a GSO member, said the vote was about gaining accountability, transparency and shared governance at the university.

"We also expect there to be legislative action to change the structure of the board and change things at the Board of Regents," he said. "We’d like to see more involvement by the Legislature."

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