Sunday, May 1, 2005

Protesters rebuff
UH president’s offer

A sit-in to oppose a Navy research
center enters its fourth day

Students and professors protesting the proposed creation of a Navy-affiliated research center at the University of Hawaii turned down interim President David McClain's offer yesterday to meet with him in small groups, opting instead to continue occupying his office at least through tomorrow morning.

University of Hawaii About 30 protesters, who have camped out in McClain's office and adjoining rooms since Thursday, said they declined to speak to the interim president because they wanted to concentrate on a new set of demands for the UH administration, which they say will be easier to meet. They had been asking McClain to stop plans for the research center immediately.

In a statement released yesterday, McClain said he was "disappointed to learn" that protesters had rejected his offer to begin talks.

"I was hoping to learn about each person's particular concerns, address specific questions they may have and perhaps clarify any misunderstandings," McClain said. "I have already had several informal discussions with individuals involved in the coalition and have found these discussions useful in identifying both the extent and depth of their concerns."

On Friday, McClain told protesters that they could be arrested if they are asked to leave and do not. So far, there have been no moves by the administration to push for arrests.

Three days into their sit-in, protesters looked at home in McClain's offices yesterday.

There were tables set up on the first floor of Bachman Hall, where UH administrators have their offices, with food, drinks and information on the protest. Upstairs, a sign-up sheet was posted for a slew of duties, including informing newcomers what to expect.

At McClain's office, a sign was put up asking people to remove their shoes. Protesters also vacuumed the office yesterday.

"We are doing the most civil, civil disobedience," said Joel Fischer, a professor of social work who is participating in the sit-in.

The protesters contend the Navy-backed research center would go against the ethics and spirit of a public university by encouraging classified military research, some of which could be related to weapon development.

Proponents, meanwhile, say the center would bolster the university's funding and reputation.

University of Hawaii

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