From last Thursday until yesterday
unwelcome at UH
, the Save UH/Stop UARC coalition (a broad and diverse network of University of Hawaii faculty, students and members of the community) came together in a sustained, peaceful occupation to stop the illegal and immoral participation of our university in the Navy's proposed University Affiliated Research Center. We were compelled to take this action because of our ethical commitment to a more peaceful, just and democratic world. But even more so because since November 2002, the UH administration has refused to allow those most affected by the proposal (not only the students, but also faculty and community members) to have any part in the decision-making process.
Negotiations between the Navy and the UH administrators have been conducted in total secrecy. But this type of back-door business has been going on at UH for decades. Our ultimate goal as a coalition, after we stop the UARC, is to create real democracy at UH, in which students and faculty have a real say in the direction of our institution.
Our occupation in Bachman Hall was not a "reaction" to this ongoing secrecy from our campus leaders; rather, we want to take a different approach -- one that is proactively opening up the decision-making process to all of us who will be most affected by the results. The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive; as of Monday evening, we had received more than a thousand letters, statements and signatures from our supporters both on and off campus, both here and around the world. In addition to how this deepened the democracy of our campus, we also have dramatically raised the profile of the issue of the militarization of education in general, not only in the local media but around the world, through dozens of Internet and televisual venues including CNN, Z Magazine, the Washington Post, Indymedia, the Guardian, Democracy Now!, Navy Times and even the Web site of Michael Moore.
Students Jessica Oshita, Tasha Nakata-Nagao and Tiva Lasiter demonstrated last Thursday outside the office of University of Hawaii Interim President David McClain.
The contrast between the activities of the Save UH/Stop UARC coalition during the course of the past school year and those of the UH administration/Navy is that ours are centered upon a commitment to an education that is participatory and open to everyone affected. This is seen clearly, in the fact that our goals are not limited to stopping the UARC itself, but are much deeper and broader. We also are stridently opposed to the outrageous tuition hikes and all other top-down policies through which the administration has subordinated intellectual openness and exchange to the demands of military and corporate funding.
As should be clear, we are committed to reversing the increasingly undemocratic direction of our university, and this is why we expressed this in our peaceful occupation of Bachman Hall, the first occupation since 1972. Just as was required in those days to stop the incredible violence of the Vietnam War and the suppression of oppositional voices, today in the era of George W. Bush, we are all called upon once more to speak up to prevent the anti-academic regime that the UH administration/ Navy coalition is talking about installing here.
Sarah Farr and Jason Adams are University of Hawaii students and members of the Save UH/Stop UARC coalition.