Mānoa graduate students vote no confidence in President Lassner, BOR

The Graduate Student Organization of UH Mānoa approved no confidence votes in both the system president and the Board of Regents last week.

Will Caron

On October 2, 2014, the General Assembly of the UH Mānoa Graduate Student Organization (GSO) approved two resolutions voting no confidence in University of Hawai’i President David Lassner and the University of Hawai’i Board of Regents (BOR) as a body. Both resolutions passed with an overwhelming majority (82 percent and 87 percent respectively).

“These votes of no confidence are unprecedented in the history of the University of Hawai’i,” reads a press release sent out by the GSO today. “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 including 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.”

The graduate student vote of no confidence follows a Mānoa Faculty Senate resolution dated September 17, in which the faculty censured 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,” continues the release. “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 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,” continues the release. “The president and the Board of Regents need to understand that they cannot continue business­as­usual. 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.”