UH needs to beef up
education about rape


Recent assaults near the Manoa campus have students demanding an increase in security measures.

A rally at the University of Hawaii-Manoa directed a spotlight on the need for students to stay alert to the danger of sexual assault. While university officials agree that more can be done to protect students, a recent report suggests a lack of programs focused on sexual violence.

Women's groups staged the rally in response to incidents of assaults near the campus and in surrounding communities. The attacks appear unrelated, and though police have arrested suspects in two of them, the assaults -- particularly the reported rape of an 18-year-old student by five men -- have set people on edge.

Students contend that campus security is lax and demanded an increase, a 24-hour security escort service and campus-wide education and prevention training.

UH interim President David McClain told the students that there already is more security during the night, 24-hour escorts and emergency telephones all over campus. In addition, UH is seeking a $1 million increase in security funding from the state.

Some students were unaware of the escort service, which indicates that the university has not done a thorough job of informing them of what's available, one of the criticisms in the report issued this week.

The report, based on a survey of female undergraduates conducted in 2003, also suggests that women often do not report assaults, stalking and what is called "partner violence" or assaults by acquaintances. Those incidents that are reported to police often aren't reported back to university officials, information essential to UH's assessment of campus violence.

Moreover, but for Kauai Community College, the UH system has not complied with federal law requiring campuses to collect and disclose information about security, and prevention policies and procedures. This should be corrected immediately. Students and faculty should know what risks exist at their schools and how to seek help when they feel threatened or intimidated.


Create state watchdog
for petroleum industry


The state Senate is considering a bill to give Governor Lingle more authority to refrain from imposing gasoline price caps.

LEGISLATORS are backing away from forcing implementation of gasoline price caps, accepting the fact that soaring prices are a national problem. A more sensible approach at this point would be creation of a mechanism that would put the petroleum industry under a magnifying glass.

A major problem with the gas cap law as it was enacted three years ago is that it pegged Hawaii's price lids to California prices, limiting Oahu prices to no more than 38 cents a gallon and neighbor island prices to no more than 46 cents above West Coast averages. Hawaii's prices, then slightly less than $2 a gallon, had been significantly higher than West Coast prices in previous years.

Those were the good old days. In the past year, California and Hawaii prices have been running about the same, rising to nearly $2.50 for a gallon of self-serve regular. Last year's Legislature repegged the cap to the national average, but a gallon of gas now costs at least $2 in every state. The national average was $2.22 last week and is expected to reach $2.35 in May.

Governor Lingle has opposed the gas caps, but the law was written in such a way that her suspension of the caps would be brief, triggering their implementation at the end of the next legislative session. Sen. Donna Kim has proposed changing the law to give Lingle final authority to stop the caps from taking effect, without setting off that backlash process.

The Legislature is inclined to approve a House-passed measure that would create a watchdog system of monitoring and reporting on the petroleum industry. The state would collect useful information about the industry's crude oil costs, refinery operating expenses and overhead costs.

The Lingle administration has endorsed the bill, saying that the information gathering is key to planning for the future, encouraging competition and determining whether oil companies are gouging consumers.

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