Category Archives: Education

A lesson in participatory planning as college changes its mascot

Remember back when June Jones blew into town as head football coach at the University of Hawaii and immediately moved to “rebrand” the team, dumping the longtime “Rainbows” and ordering the change to “Warriors”?

It’s interesting to compare that process–hint: there really wasn’t one–to what’s going on at Whitman College, where I graduated back in the days of the dinosaurs. Well, maybe there were no dinosaurs, but there were also no vineyards or wineries yet. So it was definitely a while back.

Whitman’s sports teams have previously been known as the Missionaries, or Fighting Missionaries, to be more precise, references back to the 19th-Century Presbyterian missionary couple, Marcus Whitman and his wife, Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, for whom the college is named.

The “missionary” label was challenged, and the college set in motion an inclusive review process which has now resulted in a recommendation that the name and mascot be changed. A separate process has now been launched to recommend a replacement.

The whole approach is a model in terms of inclusiveness and participation. All alumni, students, faculty and staff were surveyed. The committee, with representation from all constituencies, then wrestled with the decision.

A far cry from turning the decision over to the whims of the lone wolf football coach, a decision that later had to be reversed.

Anyway, I thought I would share an excerpt from an email from Whitman’s president, received this week, in which she review the lengthy review process.

April 6, 2016

Dear members of the Whitman community,

I write today to provide an update on the work of the Mascot Working Group and information on the next steps in this process.

There are myriad elements and influences that define a college experience: its history, its faculty, its students, its location, its governance, its co-curricular opportunities. As I have learned in my first year at Whitman, our college offers a wonderfully rich and robust experience. We work hard to make that experience as inclusive of and welcoming to all members of our community as possible, while also acknowledging that it is sometimes the difficult conversations around challenging ideas that lead to meaningful learning and growth. Last fall, based on questions raised in the past about the Whitman mascot and conversations that were then taking place across campus, I decided that it was time to ask whether our college mascot was appropriately inclusive and welcoming to today’s Whitman community. I do not think a mascot (defined as a person, animal, or object adopted as the symbol of a group and believed to bring good luck) should precipitate the difficult conversations around challenging ideas. A mascot is meant to be something around which supporters of a college, and particularly athletic teams, rally.

To help answer the question, we formed the Mascot Working Group in December 2015, chaired by Whitman Overseer Tricia Montgomery (Class of 1990), and consisting of current students, faculty, staff, alumni, and governing board members. They were charged with making a recommendation about whether the Missionary mascot is appropriate for Whitman today.

After a thorough process that took into account the feedback of thousands of alumni, the Mascot Working Group reached a unanimous decision that the Missionary mascot is not the appropriate mascot for our college today. I and the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees have endorsed that recommendation. The full working group report, including a summary of their process, guiding principles, and recommendation, is available online at for your information, along with an executive summary of the survey data. While the working group reached a unanimous recommendation, I recognize that a significant group of Whitties, particularly among our alumni, voiced strong opposition to any move away from the Missionary mascot. I know that this decision will disappoint those in that group, but hope that the retirement of the Missionary mascot is understood in light of the fact that all were given the opportunity to comment on the question and that the Mascot Working Group considered all the input it received. More importantly, we all know that the mascot is not the defining element of Whitman College; instead, it is our shared commitment to the educational mission of Whitman – that of providing a rigorous, residential education in the liberal arts.

This review process enabled us to hear from more than 7,100 Whitman students, alumni, and other members of the community; we learned that it is important to have a unifying symbol to reflect our collegiate pride and enthusiasm. And so I have again turned to Tricia Montgomery to lead a new working group to tackle the next phase of establishing an official mascot for Whitman College.

The committee, which will also include faculty, staff, students and alumni, will work over this summer to compile and refine a list of prospective official mascots. We will have the unique opportunity to create a new symbol for Whitman and its athletic teams, with a vote among the entire college community resulting in the naming of a new mascot in the fall of 2016.

UH Manoa ranks high in tuition increases

A friend flagged this story from San Francisco’s SFGate (“Colleges with the biggest tuition hikes“).

It reports on public universities across the country with the largest in-state tuition increases over the period 2004-2014.

Startclass examined data from the National Center for Education Statistics to find the public schools with the highest tuition increases over the past 10 years. Of those schools, 16 saw in-state tuition double.

And where was the University of Hawaii at Manoa?

We’re #1!

According to these data, UH tuition increased 136.93 percent during that time.

My friend, a former Hawaii resident, commented:

$10.6K tuition, plus books, fees and living costs? Wow, what a change from the mid-1970s, when I supported myself 100% (cheapest studio rent in Honolulu) and paid all tuition etc., myself from a part-time construction job—and had money to buy beer…and the occasional pizza/bowl of wonton min…

How much per hour would a student now working 30 hours a week have to earn to support himself/herself and pay all tuition/fees books at UH-Manoa? My guess is around $20/hr.

I was earning $3.50/hour in 1974, would according to the BLS is worth $16.83/hr today.

I was up to $5/hr in 1975, which is $22/hr in today’s money. So a student with a high-paying part-time job working 30 hours a week could probably scrape by, but how many students have the skills to earn this much? It took me 2-3 years to get enough skills to earn a decent wage….

And not to mention that working 30 hours a week means a minimum total workload of 60 hours per week (assuming 30 hours is enough to keep up with a fulltime 5-class load, so you can graduate in 4 years instead of six…)

Working your way through UH-Manoa was never easy in high-cost Honolulu, but a tremendous amount is now required of today’s undergrads who want to avoid student loan serfdom.

Rep. Choy set to appear at UH Manoa Faculty Congress on Wednesday, March 16

Manoa Rep. Isaac Choy, who introduced a bill this year to allow legislators to take full time jobs at the University of Hawaii while retaining their legislative posts, is scheduled to hold a short town hall meeting on the UH Manoa campus on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 16. The meeting is open to all UH faculty as well as the general public.

For more information on HB1556, refer to my post here on Thursday.

Choy, currently chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education, will make his appearance during the Manoa Faculty Congress Meeting on on Wednesday, March 16th from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM in the Architecture Auditorium (ARCH 205).

UH Director of Athletics David Matlin is tentatively scheduled to provide an update on M?noa Athletics.

Both Choy and Matllin will finish with a Q & A conversation, according to an announcement of the meeting by the UH Manoa Faculty Senate Executive Committee.

During the 2015 session, Choy introduced a bill that would have resulted in the elimination of many UH language programs and a quarter of all BA programs. Luckily, the measure, HB555, died in committee.

Friday updates: Senate v. The Courts, and the Kingdom of Hawaii ID

Just a couple of updates.

–> Earlier this week, I wrote about SB2420, one of three Senate bills targeting Hawaii’s relatively independent, merit-based judicial selection process (see “Senate bills hit judges in retaliation for court ruling on Hawaiian Homes funding“).

While two bills calling for the election of judges died in the Committee on Judiciary and Labor, SB2420 was reported out of committee and was poised for passage on Tuesday. However, apparently running into stiff opposition from some senators, the bill was amended by inserting a defective date. Selecting a date long in the future was a way to potentially get senators who were reluctant to vote in favor of the bill to do so, because it would guarantee that the bill would have to come back to the Senate if it eventually was passed by the House.

The bill was listed Thursday on the Senate’s Order of the Day for adoption on third reading. Instead, it was sent back to committee, effectively killing it for now.

None of these bills got much public attention, but all three generated substantial interest and concern in the legal community and in the Judiciary, and had drawn almost unanimous opposition during public hearings in the Senate.

The bills are believed to have been introduced and pushed in the Senate in response to legislative anger over a recent court decision that found the state to have violated the state constitution by failing to adequately fund the Department of Hawaiian Homes, and further ordered the state to provide the department a total of at least $28 million to cover its administrative and operational budget, some $18 more than had previously been appropriated.

“These bills were apparently meant to threaten the independence of the Judiciary, just as legislative leaders seemed to feel threatened by what they saw as the courts’ intrusion into their primary mission of controlling the state’s purse strings.”

The Senate, flexing its political muscle, signaled that it has lots of ways to make life miserable for the Judiciary if it really wants to.

While these bills are dead, at least for the time being, the bad thing is that the message they sent was likely received loud and clear.

Just how this plays out remains a problem to be dealt with going forward.

See also:

“Ian Lind: Why Is This Unpopular Idea Still Alive At The Legislature?

Ian Lind: Lawmakers Return To The Bad Old Days Of Backroom Deals

–> And then there was my post about a University of Hawaii library policy that allows non-students to present a “Kingdom of Hawaii ID” in place of a state or military ID, or a state drivers license (“University of Hawaii policy recognizes bogus Kingdom of Hawaii ID“).

Ben Gutierrez at Hawaii News Now followed up with university officials (“No Hawaii state ID? Kingdom of Hawaii ID accepted at UH libraries“).

Although several comments had predicted the university would respond defensively, that really wasn’t the case.

Instead of being defensive, their response was just lame.

Bottom line: The university can’t say when or why the policy was adopted. Nor can they say whether or how it was authorized. Or even whether it is legal.

And they didn’t seem much concerned about it.

My substantive comments weren’t reported in the story.

But I’ve got several concerns. First, the university is supposed to be where students learn the process of separating fact from fiction. Agreeing to place the fictional “Kingdom of Hawaii ID” on the same status as a State of Hawaii ID runs directly counter to that mission.

And just which “Kingdom of Hawaii” does the university recognize? Since each of the groups claiming to represent the defunct kingdom is a private enterprise, it could violate state ethics laws to elevate one over any of the others by granting its documents official recognition. And if the state’s university is going to recognize each of the crazies who have declared themselves king, queen, or royal regent, then we’re in real trouble, indeed.

So I’ll still be looking for a more substantive answer to the “what, when, and how” this policy was approved and adopted by the university.

Rep. Choy’s bill would let legislators take jobs at the University of Hawaii

One of the many bills that was unanimously approved in the House and sent to the Senate this week would allow Legislators to simultaneously hold positions at the University of Hawaii.

If approved, it would apparently make it possible for sitting legislators to apply for positions at UH at the same time voting on the budget and other bills affecting the university.

Of course, we’re wondering who is hoping to push their way into a UH job. But, in general, it’s staring to sound more and more like someone wants UH to be the new Bishop Estate, doesn’t it?

HB1556 was introduced by Rep. Isaac Choy, a Manoa Democrat, who chairs the House Committee on Higher Education.

According to House Standing Committee Report No.37-16:

The purpose of this measure is to prohibit the University of Hawaii from adopting or maintaining a policy that precludes a person from working at the University in a non-executive or non-managerial position solely because that person is a legislator or other official elected to a non-statewide public office within the State. This measure does not apply if the duties and schedule related to public office unreasonably conflict with the University position.

HB1566 passed the House this week, and was sent to the Senate. It has a double referral to the Committee on Higher Education and the Arts, and Judiciary and Labor.

The bill, which would reverse a longstanding policy, was opposed by the University of Hawaii and by the Attorney General.

The AG testified it would create “potential conflicts of interest or potentially inconsistent responsibilities that are implicit in the dual employment apparently intended by the bill.”

For example, a University of Hawaii professor would have inherently inconsistent responsibilities when, as a legislator, she considered the University’s budget, laws governing the University’s authority and power, or the Legislature’s decision to fund the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly collective bargaining agreement. In addition, we question how a full-time University professor could teach courses or otherwise serve in that role if he served as a legislator at the same time.

The doctrine of incompatible offices serves an important purpose that protects elected officials and the public from potential conflicts of interest and ensures that each public job receives the attention it requires for the execution of the assigned duties. For these reasons we ask that the bill be deferred.

According to the university administration testimony:

The University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents Policy 9.205 restricts employees of the University of Hawai‘i from political campaigning for themselves and employment as elected officials while also being a University of Hawai‘i employee. The intent of the policy is to reduce any appearance of conflict in interests and the public perception of conflicts of interest. Being a legislator, county council member, etc., are inherently political positions and the University has previously been criticized in its hiring practices – including by legislators who now seek employment consideration via this measure.