10 WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
University of Hawaii graduate student Ikaika Hussey has taken a lead role in protests to demilitarize Hawaii.
Grad student proves effective protester
An orderly sit-in at UH helps derail a planned Navy research facility
COLLEGE PROTESTS got a fresh face in 2005 when a new generation joined with older native Hawaiian and anti-war protesters whose activism dates back to the 1960s and 1970s.
A week-long sit-in by the Stop UARC/Save UH coalition at interim University of Hawaii President David McClain's office in May focused attention on a proposal for a Navy-funded research center at UH-Manoa.
Through the end of the year, the Star-Bulletin will recognize 10 who changed Hawaii this year. Some were controversial, others shunned the spotlight. But all made a difference.
A few months after the protest, the University Affiliated Research Center contract, valued at up to $50 million over five years for UH-Manoa, was rejected by the faculty senate over concerns over classified research, academic freedom, and legal and money issues.
Among the protest leaders and a main spokesman for the group was Ikaika Hussey, 27, a political-science graduate student at UH-Manoa.
During the sit-in, protesters set up camp on the Bachman Hall lawn and courtyard. They took care not to damage anything, even taking their shoes off before entering the carpeted entryway to the second-floor office. When the occupation ended with a promise by McClain to hold a public forum on the UARC, protesters cleaned up after themselves and watered the plants.
Hussey said he was "pleasantly surprised" by the faculty senate vote and by UH Chancellor Denise Konan's decision not to recommend the UARC. The coalition plans to make its case again when McClain holds a forum on the issue.
Hussey said he got involved with the UARC coalition through DMZ Hawaii Aloha Aina, which has worked for the demilitarization of Hawaii and organized protests over the U.S. military's use of Makua Valley, the Mokapu Peninsula and Waikane Valley. The activism of some of the members of the group dates back to the Protect Kahoolawe Ohana and protests in Kalama Valley.
Hussey also is involved in other native Hawaiian issues. He is a leader and spokesman for Hui Pu, a group opposed to the so-called Akaka Bill, which would provide federal recognition of a native Hawaiian governing entity. In July he helped organize a sit-in at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, protesting OHA's support of the bill.
"I didn't think it was enough to just observe from a distance," Hussey said of his activism. "To hope for a better world, like Ghandi said, we have to be the change we want to see in the world."