Tuesday, April 3, 2001

University of Hawaii

UH students
back faculty
despite frustration

The 'waste' of a canceled
semester grates as they try
to plan for the future

By Treena Shapiro

Returning to school after a week of vacation, students at the University of Hawaii-Manoa were not thrilled at the prospect of taking another break Thursday if the UH faculty goes on strike.

After meeting for more than four hours with a federal mediator yesterday, the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly and the state remained at an impasse over contract negotiations, with plans to resume talks at 9 a.m. today.

The possibility of a canceled semester evoked emotions from anxiety to anger, but students tended to support their instructors' fight for higher pay, many pointing fingers at the governor for putting their semester in jeopardy.

"The governor is being unreasonable," said journalism student Matthew Lum, 25.

"(Faculty) shouldn't have to forgo health coverage just for a raise," he said, referring to the state's offer to pay faculty over nine months instead of 12. That would mean the faculty would lose health coverage over the summer, as well as losing three months of credits toward their retirement.

Lum said the 12 percent pay increase the union wants is moderate.

"I think they're really not asking for a lot, and they deserve what they're asking for, especially with the research money they bring in," he said.

Student body President Chris Garnier said the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii support the teachers, without putting all the blame on the governor.

Set to graduate in May, Garnier said he would feel like he had just wasted his time if he could not complete the semester.

"If we end up losing the semester, we're fully prepared to file a class-action lawsuit against the state," he said.

Registered for 22 credits so she can graduate in three years, Vanessa Yeager, 19, said a prolonged strike could set her back a year.

"If I lost my semester, I'd be in a lot of pain," she said. "It would be just 12 weeks of sheer wasted energy."

Her complaints extend to the university.

"No one can answer what the consequences of the strike are to the students," she said.

One of the questions she cannot get answered is how long the faculty would have to strike before the semester was canceled, or whether the work she has already done will satisfy the requirements for her courses.

UH spokesman Jim Manke said the administration has to take it day by day, and the decision to cancel the semester would include determining whether to cancel the classes taught by nonunion faculty that continue through the strike.

Departments and colleges decide whether or not to give credit for courses that run shorter than 15 weeks, he said.

University of Hawaii

UH Professional Assembly

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