Despite hearing nearly five hours worth of heated and emotional testimony, the University of Hawai'i Board of Regents appointed a Permitted Interaction Group relating to Maunakea in a special meeting on August 2.
"The PIG (Permitted Interaction Group) is designed to carry out the bias, prejudice action of your board that favor the TMT project, while shielding you, the university administration, the Office of Maunakea Management and the Institute of Astronomy, from public scrutiny," Konia Freitas, director of the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, said.
The BOR approved the creation of the committee in a 11-1 vote.
The committee's task is to investigate issues related to UH's stewardship and management of Maunakea. Six of the 12 current BOR members will serve on the committee, and will report their findings during monthly meetings with all of the regents.
This meeting was the first time that the public was given the opportunity to confront the board about Maunakea since Thirty Meter Telescope construction plans were announced last month. Over 50 people gave oral testimony about their opposition to the TMT project, despite it not being on the agenda.
"I hold you guys responsible, for the 34 kupuna that were arrested that day," UH Maui College Hawaiian Studies professor Kaleikoa Kaʻeo said. "It's the Board of Regents who allowed that to happen."
In his heated testimony, Kaʻeo also said that he hopes UH President David Lassner will resign. He also challenged Lassner and any of the regents to a public debate to whether or not the university represents racism.
"This institution represents racism and settlerism against our people, but you know what? We will no longer accept that," Ka'eo said. "We are bringing the Mauna to the University of Hawai'i."
Lassner, who did not attend the meeting, said in a message on July 30 that he still believes "in the educational, inspirational and scientific benefits that TMT and modern world-class astronomy can bring to the people of Hawaiʻi." His biggest concern is that everyone needs to keep the fabric of the university from being torn apart.
Many at the BOR meeting also called for the board to stop the TMT project, and accused them of breaching "judiciary responsibilities."
"We cannot sleep at night, you know why? We wake up every night to the sound of the pū, because the police might be coming, because the national guard might be coming," UH Mānoa graduate Joy Enomoto said, "and I hold you all in this room responsible, because from the time I started in this university, this has been an issue, for a decade."
Last month, ASUH, which represents UH Mānoa's undergraduate student body, and the UH Student Caucus, which represents the UH system, released statements in opposition to TMT construction.
UHSC said that "For years, the TMT has caused numerous negative impacts on our constituents and communities. Although we recognize your need to balance the input from multiple entities and constituents, the vast majority has expressed their opposition to the TMT being built on Mauna Kea."
The BOR will hold a meeting on August 30 at Orvis Auditorium, which will center around its decision in regards to the proposed Chapter 20-26, Hawai‘i Administrative Rules, entitled "Public and Commercial Activities on Mauna Kea Lands."