Thursday, May 19, 2005

Navy-deal protesters
reappear at locked
UH president’s office

A coalition of protesters who occupied the University of Hawaii president's office earlier this month returned to a locked-down Bachman Hall to accuse interim UH President David McClain of not living up to the agreement that ended the sit-in.

University of Hawaii "Dr. McClain has let us down," said Ikaika Hussey, one of the leaders of the protest against a proposed $10 million annual agreement with the Navy to conduct research at UH-Manoa. "We hoped for better from him."

Hussey said the protesters want McClain to expedite the release of e-mails, letters and other memos about the University Affiliated Research Center proposal, and for the university to stop negotiations with the Navy to establish the research center.

The group did not say if they would attempt to reoccupy Bachman Hall in the near future.

Carolyn Tanaka, UH vice president for university relations, said McClain never agreed to stop negotiations.

She said when the university brings the proposal before the Board of Regents, the regents should have all the information, including details on a proposed contract, before making a final decision.

The protesters said, however, that it is impossible to have a free, open consultation when the Manoa administration is actively pursuing the proposal.

Hussey also said the university is hiding behind lawyers and not releasing public documents about the research center in a timely manner.

Tanaka said the documents are being released as they are reviewed by the university's lawyers, and that the process is continuing.

The protesters said an April 16, 2003, memo released recently shows that the university intends to conduct research that will "facilitate testing, rapid prototyping and eventual production of sensors, weapons and command and control systems."

But Tanaka called the memo "a red herring." She said the letter is two years old and weapons development is not part of the current UARC proposal.

Today's news conference was held in front of newly locked glass doors at the front entrance of Bachman Hall.

"These closed doors reveal how transparent he (McClain) intends to be," said protester Mimi Sharma, an Asian studies professor at UH-Manoa.

Tanaka said the front doors were locked beginning yesterday and will remain locked "until further notice."

Entrance to Bachman Hall is now through the back door after signing in with a security guard.

Tanaka said locking the front doors is part of increased security at the main administration building since the weeklong protest ended earlier this month.

University of Hawaii

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