Students Demand Change
By Korina Leong, Senior Staff Writer
Rose Navalta, Graphic Designer
Students from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo have claimed that both the University of Hawaii at Hilo and Hawaiʻi Community College campuses have been oppressing Native Hawaiian aboriginals by not recognizing the Hawaiian kingdom and it’s subjects both inside and outside of the classroom.
UH Hilo student Laʻakea Carvalho, along with other University and Community College students, wrote a letter to administration claiming that war-crimes are being committed on a daily basis. As stated in the letter, “Symbolic of the UH’s efforts toward indoctrination and denationalization through forced-Americanization of its faculty and students, is the daily exhibition of the United States of America flag above the Hawaiian flag on a single flagpole at UH Hilo.”
Carvalho explains that the flagpoles and the order in which the flags are flown is the visual representation put forth by administration of the oppression on the Hawaiian Kingdom as well as the illegal occupation of the United States in Hawaiʻi. “Instead of having two flagpoles similar to those at the courthouse, airport and other federal locations in Hilo, the university chooses to fly the American flag directly above the Hawaiian flag.”
The letter requested that the Hawaiian flag should be flown above the United States flag, next to and on a separate flagpole at the same height or have neither flag flown until another flagpole is purchased. The letter was sent to administration on both campuses on Nov. 4, 2014. The letter was acknowledged by UH Hilo’s Chancellor, Donald Straney, in an e-mail to the students. When administration did not comply by November 28th Lā Kuʻokoʻa (Hawaiʻi Independence Day), Hawaiʻi students went to the entrances of both campuses and respectfully removed the United States flag, folded the flags and handed them over to administration.
Hawaii Community College immediately installed a temporary lockbox on the base of their flag pole. Noreen Yamane, HCC chancellor, explained in an e-mail that soon thereafter the rope from their flag pole was cut but does not know who was responsible for the violation and that a police report was made.
UH Hilo Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Gail Makuakāne-Lundin, met with student activists on Wednesday Dec.10, 2014 to address the letter of concern. During the meeting Makuakāne-Lundin explained that since there are not yet two flag poles from which to fly the individual flags, they will continue to follow federal and state laws which is to fly the United States flag above the Hawaiian flag.
During the meeting, Vice Chancellor Makuakāne-Lundin claimed that UH Hilo would not be putting a lockbox on their flagpole. When there was no other response or action student’s took down the United States flag on Friday Dec. 12, 2014. UH Hilo administration added a lockbox to the pole that following Monday.
UH Hilo University’s Media Relations Director, Jerry Chang, has been assigned to act as spokesperson for UH Hilo and Hawaii Community College. He explained in an e-mail that administration is looking into the cost of purchasing and installing additional flagpoles with no established timeline. Until further notice, “Flags will continue to be flown following current federal and state laws.”
As of right now, administration is at a standstill with further proceedings. Nothing has of yet been announced to the student activists or to Ke Kalahea. Presently, HCC’s flagpole has been removed as a result of a construction project on campus. UH Hilo students Laʻakea Carvalho and Joseph Kaolulo talk about this issue and many more on University Radio Hawaiʻi every Monday from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on their station Maʻa, Movement of Aloha ʻAina.
The letter to administration can be read in it’s entirety at https://www.facebook.com/letsgetmaa.