2 May 2005
Protesters occupying the University of Hawai'i president's office against a proposed Navy research center on campus delivered new demands to interim President David McClain this morning, asking for a quick response and 10 days to take action.
If McClain agrees to the demands, protesters said they would end their five-day sit-in.
There was no immediate response from McClain or the university to the protest by students, faculty members and others, including Native Hawaiians.
"We are taking a stand against the threat to the soul and future of our university," said student Jessica Oshita, who was surrounded by about 60 protesters as she read the group's demands.
"We are resolved to continue our occupation because we care so deeply about our university," she said.
Citing Native Hawaiian concerns, protesters say the proposed University Affiliated Research Center, which would be the Navy's fifth on a U.S. college campus, would further militarize a state that is home to several military bases, including the Navy's Pearl Harbor and headquarters for the U.S. military's Pacific Command.
The university has denied protester accusations that the university would help develop weapons of mass destruction and says the center would help the school compete with the nation's top research universities and attract federal dollars in tight budget times.
Protesters want McClain to withdraw a proposal to base a University Affiliated Research Center at the school and to suspend any further action by the Board of Regents until at least Oct. 1. The regents gave preliminary approval to the plan in November.
They also are demanding a full release of all documents and relevant information to the research center and want a public meeting where they can present relevant information, because they claim the negative impact of the research center has been hidden from the regents.
If McClain agrees with the demands, they want him to implement everything by May 12.
"If he agrees, we are prepared to leave Bachman Hall today," according to the statement. "If he does not, it means the UARC process remains flawed."
Protesters began their sit-in at McClain's office on Thursday. The university administration allowed them to stay through the weekend. The building was turned into a combination dormitory and study hall over the weekend for the student protesters, many of whom have final exams next week.
The students, faculty and community members oppose the university's plans to enter a five-year, $50 million dollar contract with the Navy to establish a research center on the Manoa campus. Officials estimate that about 15 percent of the center's work would be classified.
Contract negotiations with the Navy on the research center are expected to begin in as early as a few weeks.
The four Navy-backed research centers in the United States are located at Pennsylvania State University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Washington and Johns Hopkins University. Hawai'i was recommended for the fifth center in July 2004.
See also: Message of support from GN