Provost Michael Burno said the most prominent issue at the University of Hawai‘i is the aspiration to be a Hawaiian place of learning.
“Those are words that have been used on this campus for many years – decades,” Bruno said.
On Dec. 9, Bruno launched a campus-wide search for a commission of faculty, staff and students to tackle bias and discrimination at UH Mānoa. The deadline for nominations and volunteers is Jan. 16.
The goal for the commission is to assess and find solutions to controversial issues on campus.
The Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea sparked tension between some native Hawaiians and the university, and the arrests of the kupuna (elders) last summer prompted the Bachman Hall occupiers to partake in the 117-day sit-in
Some of the occupiers have made claims about UH being racist toward its Native Hawaiian students. After ending the sit-in last month, some of the occupiers were looking into joining the commission.
“I have spent a lot of time with people on both sides of the issue trying to understand,” Bruno said. “That includes a number of hours speaking with the students who occupied Bachman, who I have the deepest respect and admiration for.”
Other issues Bruno said are the lack of Hawaiian names on campus, including buildings and streets.
But bias and discrimination not only includes race, it targets underrepresented groups such as the LGBTQ+ and the Micronesian community.
Last November, discriminatory flyers regarding the LGBTQ+ community were posted across UH Mānoa, and UH President David Lassner sent an email addressing the issue.
There has not been a set number of students, faculty and staff on the commission yet.
Bruno said he wants the commission to represent the different communities on campus. However, he knows there might be conflicting disagreements on how to handle bias and discrimination.
Submit nominations to email@example.com by Thursday, January 16, 2020.