UH system-wide walkout planned in protest of Thirty Meter Telesc - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

UH system-wide walkout planned in protest of Thirty Meter Telescope project

MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Thirty Meter Telescope officials just launched a new website in support of the project. Opponents, however, continue to put pressure on University of Hawaii leaders. The call for a walkout at all 10 campuses on Monday came from the Pukoa Council, the Native Hawaiian group that advises the UH system. A group of UH Manoa students in a Hawaiian language class left early to head to a rally at Campus Center.

"We were actually supposed to have an exam, but she canceled it. So we're all happy to do the walkout and support it," said freshman Tumua Tuinei. "I just know that it's something that we believe in and I'm just here to support the Hawaiian culture.

A few hundred people gathered to learn more about the Thirty Meter Telescope construction. Some signed petitions to demonstrate their opposition, but one student held a sign showing his support for the $1.4 billion project.

"I believe this is important for science education and I feel like we need to move forward as a society," said graduate student Makena Dyer. "I don't think it's going to have very much environmental impact."

Opponents are delivering a letter to TMT partners asking them to steer clear of the project. The Pukoa Council also sent a letter of opposition to UH President David Lassner and the Board of Regents.

"Why does it have to be on this island, Hawaii Island? Why can't it be somewhere else in America or somewhere else in the world?" questioned Lilikala Kameeleihiwa, a member of the council.

Critics wonder why construction is moving forward with court challenges pending. Attorney Doug Ing issued the following statement on behalf of TMT:

"We fully expect the appeals court to uphold Judge Nakamura's previous ruling that TMT is consistent with the purpose of the Conservation District Use Permit at the Mauna Kea Science Reserve. Additionally, we are confident that the courts will also rule in favor of TMT in any appeal of the Board of Land and Natural Resources' consent to the sub-lease. All court decisions made support TMT's full compliance in order to proceed with construction."

TMT officials said they launched the new website with answers to frequently asked questions to correct misinformation circulating through social media.

"I would love to see TMT be built and for Hawaii to be a part of discoveries that could change the way we view our place in the entire universe," said Roy Gal of the UH Institute for Astronomy.

Construction on the world's largest telescope is now on hold until at least April 20.

Visit the official website HERE

Related story:

Thousands on Oahu rally against Thirty Meter Telescope; astronomer says benefits of TMT are unlimited

Copyright 2015 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly