Student Affairs Call to Action: Mauna Kea and TMT

To Our ACPA Community,

We, the Commission for Social Justice Education (CSJE), are taking a stand concerning the State Government of Hawai’i’s intentions to allow the installation of a thirty-meter telescope (TMT) on sacred Native Hawaiian land found on Mauna Kea. Many kānaka maoli (Native Hawaiians, people Indigenous to Hawai’i) and allies have been vocal in their opposition to the installation of this telescope in order to prevent further desecration of the ʻāina (land) which has special significance to the history and ancestry of the island and its people. The University of Hawai’i and the State Government have, against the expressed desires, needs, and rightful expectations of the Indigenous people of Hawai’i, opted to continue forward with their plans. Construction was scheduled to begin last week, and the Native Hawaiian people, led by their elders, have peacefully organized to prevent the destruction of this wahipana (sacred space) by colonizers.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which is supposed to represent the interests of Native Hawaiians, sent a letter to Governor Ige of Hawai’i on July 12 demanding that construction be halted until certain conditions are met. While these conditions stop short of condemning the construction of the telescope altogether, they do showcase the poor handling of the situation by the Hawaiian government and the poor treatment of Native Hawaiians who have a right to their own land and its significance to their community and lineage. Here’s a video for some history and a website dedicated to the protection of this sacred mountain.  More recently on July 22, Lieutenant Governor Green of Hawai’i spoke up against the Governor and the TMT project, requesting an end to law enforcement of colonized occupation of this space.

This project is currently supported by a number of higher education institutions and organizations, including the University of Hawai’i System, the University of California System, the California Institute of Technology, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy, among other national and international entities.  As such, we feel the need as an organization that stands for social justice in higher education to make it known that we do not support this project.

Our Commission seeks to advance social justice in higher education, which includes equipping scholars and practitioners in the field to advocate for social change. CSJE supports the Strategic Imperative for Racial Justice and Decolonization, as championed by ACPA’s leadership and members, and believe our organization (ACPA) as a whole should take a firm stance against this disregard for Indigenous rights, and join the Indigenous people of Hawai’i in condemning the construction of this telescope on native lands in the name of Higher Education and scientific advancement. As a bold leader in best practices for higher education, it is our role to take a stand on issues that have such material impact on the lives of people, including college students and educators in Hawai’i.

Respectfully, and consistent with the values our Commission espouses under the Strategic Imperative for Racial Justice and Decolonization, we strongly oppose the literal colonization of higher education in all cases and especially today in Hawai’i and on Mauna Kea. Please know that there are many ways our members can be involved and supportive, including signing petitions, creating dialogue about it on their own campuses, strategizing ways to support students who may be affected, and donating to a variety of organizations like Kāhea, Mauna Medic Healers Hui, and HULI.

We gladly offer the Commission’s assistance in supporting our membership and others as they seek to understand both the trauma and resistance our Native Hawaiian colleagues and allies are experiencing and organizing. We will offer an open dialogue (call-in details below) on July 25 from 9am to 10am Hawaiian Standard Time for those who would like to explore avenues for coalition and construct action items related to our work in student affairs and higher education.

In community,

Brian J. Reece, Chair
Janine Silvis, Vice Chair
Terry Paape, Vice Chair
Brooke Huynh, Vice Chair
Vu T. Tran, Past Chair
Scott Burden, Vice Chair

CSJE Mauna Kea Dialogue Call-in Information

Thursday, Jul 25, 2019 3:00 pm | 1 hour | (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Meeting number: 730 963 765

Join by video system
You can also dial and enter your meeting number.

Join by phone
+1-415-655-0001 US Toll
+1-415-655-0001 US Toll
Access code: 730 963 765


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