UHM Graduate Student Organization Votes No Confidence in President Lassner and BoR as a Body
News Release from UH Manoa GSO
On October 2, 2014, the General Assembly of the UH Mānoa Graduate Student Organization approved two resolutions voting no confidence in University of Hawaii President David Lassner and the University of Hawai’i Board of Regents as a body. Both resolutions passed with an overwhelming majority (82% and 87% respectively).
These votes of no confidence are unprecedented in the history of the University of Hawai’i. They come after months of unrest on the UH Mānoa campus, following the abrupt firing of Mānoa Chancellor Tom Apple at the end of July. President David Lassner removed the chancellor without input from key university stakeholders such as students, faculty, and representatives of the Native Hawaiian community, and has failed to acknowledged the serious concerns that these stakeholders voiced immediately following the firing. He has thus violated the key principle of shared governance upon which academic institutions are built. Following the firing of the Mānoa chancellor, President Lassner has not communicated in an open and transparent way with the campus community, nor has he taken public responsibility for his mistakes.
President Lassner’s actions have damaged the reputation of our university and have put its future in peril. Because of this the GSO has lost confidence in his ability to lead the University of Hawai’i system. The graduate student vote of no confidence follows a Mānoa Faculty Senate resolution dated September 17, in which the faculty censure President Lassner for his firing of Chancellor Apple.
The GSO has also lost confidence in the ability of the Board of Regents as a body to effectively govern the university. The Board has created tremendous turnover in administrative positions, has disregarded the voices of key stakeholders regarding the firing of Chancellor Apple, has recently failed to conduct a satisfactorily rigorous presidential search and did not adhere to the spirit of the rules for this search by allowing the interim president to become a finalist. In doing so, the Board has failed to act in the best interest of the university’s main constituents: its students and faculty.
In addition to voting no confidence, the resolution directed at the BoR makes several recommendations for improving governance at the University of Hawai’i. It asks that there be more autonomy for the individual campuses in the UH system, that the Board conducts less of its business in executive session, and that there be more representation of students, faculty, and the Native Hawaiian community on the Board of Regents. The Mānoa Faculty Senate has recently made a set of similar recommendations to the BoR in a resolution adopted on September 17, 2014.
While a vote of no confidence may only be a symbolic gesture, it is the biggest gesture we can make. The president and the Board of Regents need to understand that they cannot continue business as usual. They need to lead this university system with integrity, and act in the best interest of the students that they serve. The Graduate Student Organization is committed to keep fighting for more transparency, accountability, and shared governance at the University of Hawai’i. The voices of the UH Mānoa students and faculty matter and need to be heard.
The GSO represents approximately 5,000 graduate students on the Mānoa campus.
PDF: Lassner Reso
PDF: BoR Reso