University of Hawaii regents call for civility and nonviolence in TMT debate
The University of Hawaii Board of Regents is calling for nonviolence and de- escalation of tension in the university community in connection with the conflict over Mauna Kea.
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The University of Hawaii Board of Regents is calling for nonviolence and de-
escalation of tension in the university community in connection with the conflict over Mauna Kea.
A resolution proposed
by regent Jan Naoe Sullivan was adopted unanimously Thursday by the board, with Chairman Benjamin Kudo abstaining, saying he stood by his personal statement issued Sept. 2, which urged a peaceful resolution.
The conflict over the Thirty Meter Telescope
has ripped the fabric of the 10-campus university, which is home to faculty and students on all sides
of the project, including
astronomers. Since mid-July, TMT opponents have occupied the road to prevent construction of the telescope near Mauna Kea’s summit.
All the written testimony submitted at the meeting, from more than two dozen individuals, expressed support for TMT. Many urged the board to take a stand calling for the road to be cleared so it can start, noting that the project has been thoroughly examined and earned the legal right to proceed. While opponents have packed previous board meetings, just four people offered oral testimony Thursday, three against TMT and one in
“If UH implicitly supports those who would block the legally approved construction of TMT by failing to call out their actions, the future of all astronomy on Mauna Kea is threatened,” said
Eugene Magnier, a UH faculty member speaking in his personal capacity. “If we want our keiki to have opportunities, we need to give them opportunities.”
Sullivan said her resolution was aimed at encouraging civility and respect, not spelling out specifics on how to resolve the standoff on the mountain.
“I do not believe the resolution was intended to make a statement on what should or should not happen with regard to law enforcement on the mountain,” she said. “I do believe the board has purview over what goes on on its campuses, and it is our responsibility to address the campus climate at all 10 of our institutions.”
The resolution concludes: “The University of Hawaii administration under the leadership of President David Lassner is encouraged to pursue good faith efforts to de-escalate tensions within the UH community regarding Maunakea including exploring the use of ho‘oponopono, and to pursue non-violent solutions regarding Maunakea.”
Alfred Keaka Hiona
Medeiros pleaded with the regents to call for an end to the project, noting that opponents have been at the site for more than 100 days, and some students are occupying Bachman Hall on campus.
“What more do we have to do as people of Hawaii?” he asked. “This is not about science, this is not about astronomy. We are not against that as our people led the way in so many ways in Hawaii. … We are against desecration and further desecration of our land.”
“Do we have to have 100,000 people in the streets shutting it down to show there is heart here?” he asked, clapping his hand to his chest.
But Roy R. Gal, an associate astronomer at UH, warned that some opponents say their goal is to eliminate astronomy on Mauna Kea.
“That would be a global disaster,” he wrote. “Mauna Kea observatories are responsible for almost half of all ground-based astronomy in the entire world.”
Ralph LeVitt of Volcano,
a TMT supporter, cited “the love of stars” that enabled the first Polynesians to navigate to these islands.
“Without astronomy,” he wrote, “there would be no Hawaiians.”