photo unavailable Gathering Place

Andrew Ogata
and Shayna Lum

Don’t sacrifice diversity
for higher UH standards

As students at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, we are disturbed by the article "Chancellor advocates higher UH standards" (Star-Bulletin, Oct. 25), in which Chancellor Peter Englert was quoted as saying that UH admission standards are "very low."

The article has generated many concerns from the community. As students, we are especially troubled by such suggestions of change. We are grateful that our experience at UH-Manoa has been enriched by the diversity found on campus.

The current admission standards of a 2.8 grade point average and 1020 SAT score are reasonable and comparable to that of our peer institutions.

These are minimum scores and as a Carnegie Research 1 Institution, UH does attract excellent and high-achieving local students. Unlike Chancellor Englert, we do not affiliate current admission standards with a low education. Research has shown standardized test scores may be culturally biased and are not good predictors of academic success. The last thing we need is another gate-keeper limiting access to higher education.

UH research has confirmed that raising existing standards will lower the number of minorities, Filipinos, Hawaiians and nontraditional students entering and excelling. The chancellor's comment flies in the face of UH's Strategic Plan, which lays a path for the university into the next decade. The Strategic Plan strives to "design and implement an effective enrollment management plan to improve the entry, retention and success of a diverse student population, especially Filipinos, Native Hawaiians and underrepresented ethnic groups."

It further states that "access to public higher education is critical to the future economic health of Hawaii." We are grateful for the opportunity to receive higher education and acknowledge that UH provides much to the economic stability and growth of the state.

The makeup of a public university should represent the population of the community at large. Hawaii's uniqueness lies in its cultural diversity, and UH-Manoa has a responsibility to serve its diverse community. All Hawaii high school students should be given the opportunity to attend the premier public educational institution of Hawaii and have a right to pursue their future endeavors within the state of Hawaii.

Englert often has bragged about the increase in enrollment at UH-Manoa, yet in the referenced article he stated, "If we have an opportunity for 6,000 to 9,000 to go to another part of the system, we would not have to carry the burden we are now."

We find this statement offensive. Students are not "burdens"; they are the university's lifeline and should be the No. 1 priority of any university. Without students you would not have institutions of higher education producing well-educated and civic-minded community leaders.

As senators of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii (ASUH), we have tried to share our concerns with Englert and his staff on two occasions. While he claims he was misquoted about the "low standards," when asked to clarify his stance, he refuses. We are concerned that his statements create bad feelings within the community; better communication is needed between the university administration and the community as to the future endeavors of UH. Because UH-Manoa is partially funded by the taxpayers of Hawaii, it has a responsibility to act in the best interest of our community.

We are not saying that students will not be able to step up to higher standards, but rather, we question how raising standards would keep our best and brightest from leaving the islands. We strongly support academic excellence and hope legislators, students, faculty, administrators and the community work together to strengthen UH-Manoa's quality of education, resources and reputation. We are opposed to any admission changes without proper long-term research regarding direct harm to diversity, as well as full consultation and public hearings. We ask Englert not to sacrifice diversity in pursuit of excellence.

Keep the doors of access open for diversity at Manoa, not just for the elite.


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