Category Archives: Education

Plan to address UH athletic deficit draws quick pushback

The University of Hawaii at Manoa athletic program aired a plan last week for dealing with its chronic deficit, but the plan is already getting push back from at least one key constituency, the students.

Last Friday, the newspaper reported athletic director David Matlin’s budget presentation to the Board of Regents (“How the University of Hawai’i at M?noa Athletic Department wants to balance its budget“).

Matlin laid out a plan to raise over $14 million in new annual revenues over the next four years. He identified several potential sources.

UH Athletics’ Initiatives: $4.7 million

Student Fees’ Increase: $1.7 million

Direct Legislative Support: $5.5 million

Increased UH Institutional Support: $2.3 million

The proposal would double the current student athletic fee from $50 to 100 per semester. And the additional “institutional support” would also come from tuition dollars.

The story on Matlin’s proposal was posted at last Friday. And on Monday, a Ka Leo editor penned this far less than enthusiastic reply with a clear message: “Dear UH Athletics, stay away from our wallets.”

Irene Fang, Ka Leo’s associate opinions editor, raised several key points, including one that nobody seems to want to talk about, “the student body’s apathy towards athletics.”

In a nutshell, Fang says, students are at UH to get an education and a college degree, and most aren’t affected by athletics.

At the same time, she argues, the financial reality is that Hawaii isn’t in a position to raise the kind of money needed to field a competitive football team. And schools that do don’t accomplish it with student money.

Mid-ranked University of Washington (UW) spent almost $30 million, as reported by, which is roughly how much a university should spend on a competitive football team. However, there are no UW athletic fees. Reported by Husky Athletics, 97 percent of the athletic program is self-sustained, with the remaining three percent coming from the state. In fact, four of the top five NCAA ranked schools in Texas, Michigan, Alabama and Ohio State charge no student athletic fees, as reported by USA Today.

And given the stagnant or declining share of state revenues that have been allocated to the university system, and especially the flagship Manoa campus, in recent years, seeking additional ongoing revenues dedicated to support of the athletic program seems like a long shot, at best.

And that’s the biggest problem.

The earlier Ka Leo story quoted Matlin.

“We have no professional teams, so UH athletics is our NFL, NBA, and MLB,” he said. “When our teams are doing well and competing for national championships, the morale of the state is uplifted.”

You can’t continue to squeeze the university’s primary mission, education, in order to fund a competitive athletic program that is of primary interest to those outside the university.

So while the numbers in Matlin’s plan may add up, the politics of it don’t.

Opponents charge TMT with disrespect of the legal process

Earlier this week, the Hawaii Supreme Court issued an order effectively blocking the resumption of construction a the Thirty Meter Telescope site on Mauna Kea by temporarily lifting the permit issued by DLNR for the TMT project.

The order was in response to an emergency motion filed on Monday by the attorney for plaintiffs seeking to block the TMT project from proceeding. You can read the emergency motion and supporting documents here.

The motion seems relatively thin on substance. It consists of a repetitious review of the legal history of the case, and accuses the TMT of a “blatant disregard and disrespect of the legal process” by attempting to take any steps prior to the court’s pending decision on the lawsuit challenging the original decision by DLNR to issue a permit for the TMT.

The matter was a little complicated, because the project is actually being built by the TMT Observatory International Corporation, made up of a consortium of institutions sponsoring the telescope. The corporation was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, so the court couldn’t simply order the corporation to stop any work. The workaround taken in the motion was to ask for the permit to be temporarily stayed, which the court agreed to do.

I have to agree that the attempt to start any work related to the project prior to the court’s ruling on the case was a mistake. It’s hard to see that several weeks would make any difference in the long run.

But one has to wonder whether “respect for the legal process” will still be the order of the day for the Mauna Kea “protectors” if the Supreme Court’s ultimate decision falls short of fully blocking the TMT from moving forward. That’s obviously going to be the next political test.

UH Hilo student senate tramples open meeting requirements

Two students reporters representing The Student Union, a registered independent student organization at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, were threatened with arrest for attending a public meeting of the campus student government organization last week.

The two reporters were told they could not enter the October 30 public meeting of the UH Hilo Student Association, the student senate, without showing their student identification, and would not be allowed to record the meeting.

Signs were posted which announced both requirements, despite an earlier acknowledgement by UH officials that recording of public meetings must be allowed.

When the reporters persisted, campus security was called. The two did open the unlocked door and enter the meeting, where they were again told they would have to leave.

The incident was described in a press release from The Student Union organization distributed by email this week.

The students also distributed a one-page handout which listed relevant laws and UH policies supporting their right to attend and to record the meeting.

Surprisingly, the list did not include the state’s sunshine law, which provides for open meetings of public agencies.

I originally noted here that the sunshine law applies to the student government. That was my recollection from a controversy during the 1970s over the Manoa student senate’s control over a share of the proceeds from sale of the old Honolulu Stadium in Moiliili. However, I’ve learned that a 1985 legal opinion by the attorney general, issued prior to the creation of the Office of Information Practices, ruled the opposite.

I have not yet obtained a copy of that opinion to review.

The sunshine law requires public meetings to be open to the public and, if applicable to UH, would not appear to allow attendance to be restricted only to UH students, faculty, and administrators. And a requirement to produce identification as a condition of entering a public meeting would also appear to be contrary to the sunshine law’s open meeting requirements.

In addition, the law specifically allows audio recordings of public meetings, although it is silent on video recording. However, the law was passed before small devices, like smartphones, which can record both audio and video became widely available. And the law is specifically required to be interpreted broadly in favor of open meetings. For this reason, it seems likely that non disruptive video recording using small handheld devices would found to be consistent with the intent of the law.

Video taken while they were in the meeting showed that the it was already being taped, apparently as part of the official record.

Previous opinions of the Office of Information Practices have held that audio recordings maintained by government agencies are public records. To the extent that those recordings are held by university employees, it would seem that they would be considered public records, whether or not the open meeting requirements apply.

Here’s a summary of OIP’s Opinion 92-13:

The State Office of Veterans Services (OVS) must disclose the audio tape recording of a public meeting held by the State Commission on Memorials for Veterans of the Korean and Vietnam Conflicts (Commission). The OIP determined that the audio tape recording of the Commission’s public meeting is a “government record” under the UIPA and that none of the exceptions to required disclosure applies to this government record. Also, section 92F-12(a)(16), Hawaii Revised Statutes, expressly requires an agency to make available for public inspection and copying “[i]nformation contained in or compiled from a transcript . . . of a proceeding open to the public.” Therefore, upon receiving a request for the disclosure of the audio tape recording of the Commission’s meeting, the OVS cannot fulfill its obligations by merely disclosing the written meeting minutes.

And Opinion 97-06:

The Department of Health’s (“DOH”) audio cassette recordings of its public meetings are government records that are public under the UIPA. The DOH must provide another audio cassette copy rather than a written transcript of the recordings upon receiving a request for a cassette copy.

In breaking news, The Student Union’s Facebook page reported today that the Student Association’s advisor has “stepped down” and that “all future UHHSA meetings cancelled until new adviser found.”

It seems this is a story with legs.

Stay tuned!

Returning from a brief visit to Hartford, CT

A few days in CT We’re on our way back to Honolulu today after several days in Hartford, CT. Meda was a keynote speaker at a conference on women and girl offenders.

Since 2003, the Association on Programs for Female Offenders (APFO), an American Correctional Association affiliate, has co-sponsored AJFO conferences. The AJFO Conference is held biannually with APFO selecting a different state and a representative organization(s) from that state. The host state and APFO appoint a national steering committee to assist in the conference planning. For 2015, APFO selected Connecticut and The Connecticut Women’s Consortium (CWC) to host the conference. The Connecticut Women’s Consortium received the support of Connecticut’s Department of Correction, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Department of Children and Families, Department of Public Health, and Court Support Services Division for their application.

We had a brief bit of time to walk around downtown Hartford. These are a few photos of what we saw.

Just click on the photo see all the photos from our Hartford experience.

Proposed policy would prohibit certain romantic or sexual relationships on UH campuses

University of Hawaii employees, including faculty, would be prohibited from having romantic, dating, or sexual relationships with other employees, or with students, “when one member has an evaluative and/or supervisory responsibility for the other.”

That’s the bottom line of a Proposed New Executive Policy on Consensual Relationships circulated for comment this week by UH President David Lassner.

The proposed policy comes just as the findings of a sexual harassment investigation by the University of California at Berkeley reverberate through American universities (see yesterday’s post, “Incident at University of Hawaii cited in harassment findings against high profile Berkeley astronomer“).

The Berkeley investigation concluded that available evidence supports allegations of sexual misconduct against a prominent faculty member involving behavior that was engaged in over a period of years.

The proposed UH policy is the result of work by a committee appointed by Lassner “to review the practices and policies existing at other institutions on the subject of consensual relationships” and to make recommendations “to provide a best-practice approach in recognizing and managing consensual relationships while also balancing the rights of individuals and supporting the values, mission, and goals of our University.”

The proposed policy was based on those previously adopted by a number of other universities on the U.S. mainland.

The proposed UH policy would bar consensual relationships “when one individual in a relationship has direct supervision, direction, instruction, oversight, evaluation, advisement, or substantial influence over the employment or educational status of another.”

These situations pose particular danger “because of the potential for conflict of interest, appearance of such conflicts, and/or abuse of power,” the proposed policy explains. Such conflicts threaten the goal of assuring that “all education and employment decisions shall be made free from bias or favoritism.”

Such relationships that exist at the time the new policy goes into effect would have to be disclosed to the employee’s supervisor, and a plan established “to manage and/or resolve the conflict of interest.”

Penalties for violating the policy would include possible “suspension or termination from employment” for administrative employees who are not represented by a union, while disciplinary actions against union employees would proceed according to existing union contracts.

According to the proposed policy, the university “will not tolerate retaliation against persons who report violations of this policy.”