MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For a second night, University of Hawaii at Manoa students staged a sit-in at the Campus Center Courtyard in protest after administrators indicated declining revenue and increased expenses could lead to cutting teacher assistant (TA) positions.
Organizers say one of their top concerns is a lack of transparency about the university's budget, and that includes a concrete number of how many TA positions may be on the chopping block.
Dozens of undergrads joined grad students in a march on Hawaii Hall to wave signs and protest proposed cuts. The event was organized by "Fix UH Manoa" -- a student group who says 96 percent of every school budget is earmarked for unionized faculty and permanent staff salaries. They say what's left covers operational costs, which keeps the lights on, and teacher assistant positions, which they're trying to save. The group was able to meet Tuesday with Interim UH Manoa Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman and Vice Chancellor Reed Dasenbrock.
"The most we got tonight was verbal assurances and we want something completely in writing, completely concrete and we want to be able to review it and make sure that it meets all of the demands of the students in our group. We'll stay here tonight until we get concrete information about the stability of the TA positions and the promises of budget reform," said Vincent Cleveland, a molecular biosciences grad student.
"Without my TA-ship I lose my tuition waiver, I lose my salary which isn't enough but it works, the tuition waiver is actually what gets us through the program -- without we really can't be enrolled and I'd be forced to leave the university," said Derek Kraft, a TA for the biology department.
University officials say the chancellor and administration are listening to the students' concerns and will consider their input as part of a new path forward for budget allocation in the future.
In the meantime, students say they're prepared to stay in place to ensure their voices are heard.
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