HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - University of Hawaii President David Lassner said Wednesday was one of the most challenging days in his six-year tenure as the head of the university system.
Dozens of opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope were arrested at the base of Mauna Kea, prompting faculty, staff and students critical of the project to call for his resignation.
“Yesterday, was one of the most difficult days of my presidency ― beginning with the heartbreaking arrests of kupuna on the mountain and then the call from the UH Hawaiian studies program for my resignation," Lassner said.
“I have received emails with words like war criminal, disgusting, despicable, shameless, hypocritical, simple, corrupt, spineless, greedy, and these are not just coming from Hawaiians.”
But Lassner said he also has heard from many “Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians to stay the course.”
“They say things like TMT is important to education, to high quality jobs (and) to inspire our children,” he said.
Lassners made his remarks at a UH Board of Regents meeting Thursday morning. Also at the meeting, TMT opponents once again urged the regents to put a halt to the project.
“I have been watching online, watching my friends, watching our kumus, watching colleagues, faculty members, friends on the Mauna sacrificing their bodies for the Mauna and to stand in opposition to the desecration," said Katherine Achacoso, a UH graduate student.
Manu Kaiama, a professor at the UH’s Shidler College of Business, also urged the board to stop the project.
“Do you think it’s easy for these students, for me, for people to be on the Mauna in peace, facing sheriffs with guns, batons, pepper spray," she said.
“You are supporting that potential harm. We are peaceful.”
There was no action item on Mauna Kea at the regents’ meeting. But next month, the board will consider approving the latest draft of proposed rules for Mauna Kea.