Sunday, July 14, 2002


He stresses that a Maui student's
acceptance will not change policy

By Diana Leone

Everywhere Kamehameha Schools Chief Executive Officer Hamilton McCubbin went the past few days, he got the same question.

Does the admission of a non-Hawaiian student to the school's Maui campus signal a change in the school's admission policy?

No, it does not, Hamilton reiterated last night from his home, where he was hosting a gathering of about 50 Kamehameha Schools alumni.

The reunion of "primarily the class of 1959 ... was planned a long time ago," McCubbin said. Among the guests was Kamehameha Schools trustee Nainoa Thompson.

McCubbin said he and Thompson were fielding a lot of questions about the school's announcement Thursday that a non-Hawaiian student had been admitted to the Maui campus.

The Board of Trustees met Friday, discussed the matter and reiterated its decision that all admission decisions for the coming school year, including admission of the non-Hawaiian student on Maui, would stand because they conform with established school policies, McCubbin said.

"Our classmates support the trustees' decision but would like to have greater understanding as to how it came about so they can be supportive in a constructive way," McCubbin said.

"They would like it if myself and trustee Thompson would talk in a little more detail about the admissions process, the standards and how we could narrow it down to a vacancy."

The school accepted the student for the 2002-2003 year after the Maui campus admitted all applicants of Hawaiian ancestry who met its admission requirements, McCubbin said.

He said the school has received hundreds of comments on the admission, most of them from angry parents whose Hawaiian children have been denied admission to Kamehameha Schools.

The underlying issue is that Kamehameha Schools' admission policy is that of Hawaiian preference but not limited to Hawaiians only, McCubbin said.

But alumnus Roy Benham said he is among those who believe "that preference thing is a new thing they're starting to use now to pacify the IRS requirements."

"If you take a look at the blood at Kamehameha, the majority of the blood up there is non-Hawaiian," Benham said. Most students are of mixed racial ancestry.

To those who wonder whether there might be other deserving Hawaiian students in Maui County, McCubbin said: "We're convinced there are. But did they apply? And the answer is no."

McCubbin said he is not sure how often non-Hawaiians have applied to the school.

Benham said if Hawaiian applicants who scored slightly below admission standards were turned away, he would favor changing admission requirements.

Benham said he expects to hear McCubbin's explanation of the matter at a meeting tomorrow of the CEO's Advisory Committee, a 32-member body of which he is a member.

A general information meeting for alumni, parents and staff of the school will be held 6-8 p.m. tomorrow in the Kapalama Campus Auditorium, said the school's communications director, Marsha Bolson. McCubbin and trustees will be there to answer questions.

People are being told of the meeting through e-mail and parent leadership groups, Bolson said.

McCubbin said the whole situation "is a friendly reminder that conversion (of admissions) to Hawaiians only runs in the face of the U.S. Constitution. We need to be sensitive to that."

Benham said the situation inspires him to push for federal recognition of Hawaiians as an indigenous people rather than an ethnic group via the Akaka Bill. "Once we're native Americans, we can 'discriminate,'" he said.

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