Category Archives: Education

Event to challenge “systemic barriers to justice”

A gathering dubbed “The People’s Congress” is being held this weekend in Honolulu, according to a press release from a coalition of sponsoring groups.

The two day event, which is scheduled to run all day Saturday and Sunday, aims to bring together people and groups “working to end systemic barriers to justice in Hawai’i.”

Workshops and panels will address a range of issues, from affordable housing and “Preferred Futures in Public Education” to what can be done to reduce the influence of big money in politics and elections.

Take a look at the full schedule and you’ll likely find some discussions of interest.

The weekend events will be at the KUPU Net Shed, 725-F Ala Moana Blvd. in Honolulu.

The conference is free, but advance registration is required.

Sponsoring organizations include Unite Here! Local 5 Union, and the Local 5-backed Aikea Movement, along with a number of other groups, including Community Alliance on Prisons, Hawai?i Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA), Hawai?i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice, Hawai?i Center for Food Safety (HCFS), Hawai’i People’s Fund, Hawai‘i SEED, Hawai‘i Teachers for Change Caucus, Hawai‘i’s Thousand Friends, Hawai’i Wildlife Fund, KAHEA: Hawaiian Environmental Alliance, Life of the Land, Maui Tomorrow, Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC), Sierra Club of Hawai`i, the Aloha ‘Aina Project.

The People’s Congress follows a series of forums held last month on Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii Island. According to the People’s Congress website, the forums drew “over 300” participants. Given the number of organizations involved, that seems quite a modest turnout for a series of events meant to build up to this weekend’s Congress.

Another accident in the same crosswalk prompts UH email blast

Another accident in the same crosswalk on Dole Street in front of the UH Law School prompted an email blast from the university administration sent to all students, faculty and staff Monday afternoon (October 31).

It’s a welcome change from the past practice of official silence after such unfortunate events.

Here’s the full text of the UH email notice:

From: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Date: Monday, October 31, 2016
Subject: Safety urged after pedestrian accident

Aloha Manoa Ohana,

There was a pedestrian accident this afternoon (Monday, October 31) on Dole Street in the crosswalk near the School of Law Library and Holmes Hall. Thankfully the victim, a UH Manoa student, was not seriously injured. This is, however, the same location as last week’s fatality.

The university would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone to please be careful. Keep an eye out for each other–be vigilant and aware of your surroundings, especially in areas of heavy foot traffic. Whether traveling by automobile, moped, bicycle, skateboard or foot, please Move with Aloha http://manoa.hawaii.edu/dps/movewithaloha.html so that wherever you are going, you get there safely.

Mahalo

It’s a simple, timely acknowledgement of the accident and an occasion to remind all of the importance of traffic safety in the busy university area.

Earlier in the day, in a comment on yesterday’s post, I had comment and made a suggestion:

Why is it so difficult for UH to respond to such incidents by acknowledging them and using them to convey important information (for example, something like this– “we have learned that the closure of Dole Street was due to a fatal traffic accident involving two mopeds. Such incidents can be upsetting to those who witness or hear accounts from others. Any students or other members of the campus community can take advantage of the counseling services which are available by contacting/calling … And although the victim in this accident was not a university student, it is somber reminder that the busy streets surrounding the campus can be dangerous. Drivers and pedestrians should always proceed with caution.”)

I doubt my suggestion had anything to to do with the message that was sent out later in the day. But I’m glad to see UH being proactive in this case, and hope that this becomes the general policy going forward.

UH silent on Dole St. fatality: “Condolences…seem to be in order”

It’s been over a year since I wrote about the efforts of a UH Manoa professor, Susan Schultz, who has been seeking to improve the university administration’s response to deaths on campus. Her concern is that UH ignores them and ignores its responsibility to help students, faculty, and staff deal with these difficult situations.

Then came last week’s fatal moped accident along Dole Street outside the UH Law School and just a stone’s throw from Bachman Hall, the home of the UH President’s office.

KHON noted:

The tragedy is alarming for UH students who rely on mopeds as a primary mode of transportation.

Riders we spoke with say mopeds are a convenient and cost-effective way to get around campus, especially since parking is so limited.

When something tragic like this happens, word travels fast.

“I heard about it through a text message. It was a family text. Right after I heard about it, my family was like, ‘Where are you?’” said Elizabeth Lindsey.

“It was pretty heavy. You never want to see stuff like that,” said Thomas Lindsey.

On the afternoon of the accident, UH emailed a notice that Dole Street had been closed to traffic due to an accident. Less than 40 minutes later, another email reported that the street had been opened to traffic again.

But the university had nothing to say about the accident itself.

Very early the next morning, Schultz wrote to David Lassner, who now holds the dual posts of UH President and Manoa Chancellor.

This morning I woke up to a notice of a moped theft. Yesterday, a young man–perhaps a student?–was killed on Dole Street on a moped. There was a notice that the road was closed. I urge UHM to send out a brief note about that sad event, along with information about counseling for anyone who was unfortunate enough to witness the accident. Condolences for the family and friends would also seem to be in order.

At the end of the day, Schultz posted a follow-up on her Facebook page.

As of nearly 5 p.m., I’ve received no response from Chancellor Lassner to my email about yesterday’s moped death on campus. Admin has not uttered a word on the subject.

The next day, Schultz wrote to Randy Moore, a member of the Board of Regents and former chair.

I sometimes see you riding your bicycle up Dole Street next to the Law School. If you did so this morning, you will have seen a memorial to the young man who died on a moped two days ago.

That memorial was made by the young man’s friends. While the story has been covered by the media, UHM has not uttered a syllable about it, except to say that Dole was closed, and then later re-opened. Nothing about how students may have witnessed a fatal accident, nothing to express condolences over the loss of life on our campus.

This is not unusual. In fact, it’s the norm. UHM never says anything about deaths on campus; they leave that to the media and the rumor mill. Students should know that they can find counseling in QLC, if they were traumatized by events like this one. They should know that someone in administration cares enough to send an email.

The morning after the accident, we did get an email telling us that a moped had been stolen at one of the dorms.

aloha, Susan

Her message was forwarded to the BOR and to the UH administration.

Schultz did receive a short response from current BOR Chair Jan Sullivan, but nothing from the UH administration.

And on Saturday she noted: “Still not a peep from UHM.”

With all the experienced public relations people on the administrative payrolls, the ongoing silence is deafening.

Throwback Thursday: The Priory 1912

I donated a small package containing photographs and other items from St. Andrew’s Priory School this week. The photos are from the period of about 1900-1910, and most are from a small album given to my grandmother by Abby Marsh, a teacher and one-time principal of the school.

I had just handed those treasures over to staff at the school when I found a few more photos on remnant pages from another album.

I’ve always been fascinated by old photos like this. The people in them are long gone, but here in these photos they are very much alive. And while they probably exist in family memories as our grandmothers or great grandmothers, here they are kids beginning life in a Hawaii that we can only imagine.

Top photo: Seven young women in school uniforms on the stairs of a Priory building, displaying a basketball that says, “S.A.P. 1912”. Saint Andrews Priory 1912. Was this the class? The basketball team? There’s no caption to help interpret the photo.

1912

I only have a couple of photos of my grandmother and her sister from this general period. My grandmother looked very hapa haole, while her sister looked much more Hawaiian. Are they in and of these pictures? 1912 would have been after their Priory years, but the other photos aren’t dated. So I just don’t know.

Meanwhile, here’s a happy threesome and, below, a larger group of students, dressed for the times, their identities forever a mystery.

1912

1912

Investigative reporting center challenges University of Louisville Foundation secrecy

The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting has been reporting on efforts to break through the secrecy surrounding the University of Louisville Foundation.

Like the University of Hawaii Foundation, it is a nonprofit organization that serves as the university’s fundraising arm.

KCIR reports that the state’s attorney general has issued several rulings that the foundation’s failure to provide certain records has violated the state’s public records law.

This is not an isolated case. Our newsroom has at least four other pending appeals related to U of L or the foundation’s failures to provide records.

The purpose of the Open Records Act is clear: Public records should be made available to the public quickly and expediently.

Nonetheless, when dealing with U of L and the foundation, it’s an adventure of interminable delays, obfuscation, missed deadlines and more. We are left with no options but to appeal to the attorney general. It’s become routine.

A Kentucky Supreme Court decision in 2008 affirmed that the foundation is a public agency, at least for purposes of the state’s public records law. The case involved a request for identifying information of some 47,000 persons who had contributed to the university through the foundation. The court held that the donor records are personal records, and then had to weigh the privacy interests of donors against the public interest in disclosure.

The public has a legitimate interest in the functions of the Foundation. ? As noted above, the Court of Appeals determined that the Foundation is a public agency within the meaning of the Open Records Act, and that ruling has not been disturbed by this Court. ? The Court of Appeals’ conclusion was predicated on the finding that the Foundation and the University essentially act as one and the same, and that the Foundation was established, created, and wholly controlled by the University. ? As a public institution that receives taxpayer dollars, the public certainly has an interest in the operation and administration of the University.

The Foundation’s stated goal is to advance the charitable and educational purposes of the University of Louisville. ? To this end, it solicits, receives, and spends money and other assets on behalf of the University. ? The public’s legitimate interest in the University’s operations then logically extends to the operations of the Foundation.

Moreover, the Courier-Journal has argued, and we agree, that certain donors may not simply wish to conceal their identities, but rather may wish to conceal the true purposes of their donations. ? Donors, particularly those making substantial gifts, may wish to influence the University’s decisions and policies, or to have some type of benefit conferred upon them by the University. ? The record supports this contention-several anonymous donors specifically indicated that their gifts were being made with the understanding that they would receive tickets to athletic functions. ? Accordingly, we agree that the public’s interest is particularly piqued by large donations from anonymous donors, and that a legitimate question of influence is raised by such circumstances. [case citations removed]

After reviewing the facts, the court ruled that all but 62 of the donors had to be disclosed. The 62 held exempt from disclosure had requested anonymity prior to the decision that the Foundation is subject to the state’s public records law and donors identities a matter of public record.

In Hawaii, I believe the status of the UH Foundation is still controversial. A 1997 opinion by the Office of Information Practices held that all donor information is exempt from disclosure, but I don’t think this issue has gone up to the Hawaii Supreme Court. At least such a case doesn’t appear in OIP’s listing of prior Hawaii court decisions.