An Open Letter to
Dr. Patricia Lee, Chair, Board of Regents
University of Hawaii

The University of Hawaii is one of the great wonders of the state, and not simply because we have growing numbers of students on our ten campuses or because the research done on our campuses brings a lot of money to the state. Universities, our own included, play a unique role in the political, social and intellectual life of society. Here, as nowhere else, is a space that exists for the unfettered exchange of ideas and the pursuit of knowledge; a special and rare place where no idea, no matter how unpopular, can be wholly silenced, if it has merit.

Truly outstanding research and learning depends not only on academic freedom, but also thrives on open critical review of methods, data, analyses, and findings. Simply put, intellectual growth, like freedom, does not flourish in climates that foster secrecy and silence.

It is for this fundamental reason that the idea of expanding Classified research at UH is a terrible idea. We understand its appeal, though. Like other federally funded projects, the proposal to create an entity at UH to receive such dollars appeals because it promises to bring in a lot of money, and justified in terms of job creation and service to national goals. Expanding classified research though, brings a host of unintended consequences, and it is also headed in absolutely the wrong direction. This proposal will not benefit the majority of our university community nor address our institution's critical needs.

Peer review is an essential component of academic integrity. To wall off parts of the UH to be shrouded in a cloak of secrecy is fundamentally wrong. To require security clearances for faculty, students, and staff as a necessary pre-condition for research or employment at a public educational institution is offensive and antithetical to the values of our university. Classified research contradicts and undermines our mission and interferes with our core commitments and responsibilities to our students. It also taints the reputation of our institution and scholars who do not engage in secret research.

Three years ago, following the September 11th tragedy, the University of Hawaii at Manoa engaged in a remarkable strategic planning process in which some 1,400 students, faculty, staff and members of our community participated in a planning process which served to identify the highest hopes and aspirations for our university. A total of 68 Working groups were formed around issues, themes, and ideas for improving our campus. Not one of these groups came forward with the idea of pursuing classified research. Instead, ideas such as becoming a "Hawaiian place of learning, open to world culture, informed by principles of sustainability" were advanced. This extensive planning process refined our mission which is to "build on our strengths including our unparalleled natural environment and tradition of outstanding Asia Pacific scholarship. This plan, which was adopted by the Board of Regents, states that "the role of our university is to promote the free exchange of ideas and to generate and disseminate knowledge."
Hawaii is different from other places. We have a fragile ecosystem. We have a rich and diverse cultural history. We also have a painful social history, one in which many injustices have been committed against the native people of Hawaii. Our strategic plan calls for recognizing our kuleana to honor the indigenous people and promote social justice for Native Hawaiians. At the same time, we are among the most international of communities in the world. It is for this reason that our strategic plan also states that we should "advance stable, peaceful, prosperous and democratic relations in the region by being an international center of learning and exchange." Rather than investing in classified research, we should be working towards greater openness, increased dialogue and interaction among diverse peoples, and "promoting the free exchange of ideas as a source of renewal for our society."

Classified research creates a privileged class of agents who have access to information, equipment, and resources which are not available to other faculty, students, and staff without security clearances. As such, it is discriminatory against international students and staff members. Given the large and growing number of international scholars on our campus, why should this be a priority?

There has been, moreover, a rush to judgment on these matters. Our administration talks about "consultation" with affected groups, but really should be emphasizing dialogue and deliberation. There should be a healthy, spirited and open discussion of the issues. We should all recognize that this is a thorny issue and that we have an obligation to educate and involve all affected parties - students, faculty, secretaries, staff, administrators, and the broader community in substantive discourse. We need to emphasize becoming not only a self-learning, but also a self-ruling institution.

The arguments in favor of classified research at UH are pretty hollow. Proponents talk about the increased revenues, but don't mention the costs, risks, threats, and dangers. Supporters argue that other universities do it, so we should too, without putting classified research into perspective or within the context of our unique social history. There has been very little open discussion of the nature of the research, the reasons for doing here in Hawaii, and how we can ensure that benefits of accepting classified research contracts outweighs the costs. While some faculty seem just plain resigned to the fact that the University will do more classified research, there is a growing realization that money alone will not solve all our problems.

Lets recall that generations of Hawaii citizens struggled to build the University of Hawaii, often against prodigious opposition from those who wanted to reserve a world class education only to the wealthy few who could afford mainland schools. We are the stewards of that legacy, and we owe it to them not to compromise their vision of a future that enriches and ennobles all people, not just the select few that can get security clearances.

Dean Alegado, Ethnic Studies
Denise Antolini, Law School
Brahim Aoude, Ethnic Studies
Belinda Aquino, Phillipine Studies
Laura Archibal
Cristina Bacchilega, English
Katie Barry, Arts and Sciences
Gigliola Baruffi, Medicine
Fred Blake, Anthropology
Kathryn Braun, Medicine
Thomas Brislin, Academy for Creative Media
Lynea Campbell-Dehmer, Speech
Steve Canham, English
James Caron, Honors Program
Melisa Casumbal, Grad student, Political Science
Peter Chamberlain, Art
Gaye Chan, Art
Love Chance, Psychology
Nathan Chang, Social Work
Murray T Chapman, Geography
S. Charusheela, Women's Studies
Meda Chesney-Lind, Women's Studies
John Cole, Hawaii Community College
Tom Craven, Math
Monisha DasGupta, Women's Studies
Ruth Dawson, Women's Studies
Steve Dawson, Financial Economics and Institutions
Lenora DeRoy, Anthropology
LaRene Despain, English
Michael Douglas, Urban and Regional Planning
John Egan, RCUH
Roxanne J Fand, English
Kathy Ferguson, Women's Studies
Dolores Foley, Urban and Regional Planning
Cynthia Franklin, English
Candace Fujikane, English
Byron Gangnes, Economics
Jon Goldberg-Hiller, Political Science
Ku'umeaaloha Gomes, Student Services
Joclyn Graessle, Social Work
Michael Graves, Anthropology
Theresa Greaney, Economics
Ka'iana Haili
Marie Murphy Hara, English
Yuka Hasegawa, Anthropology
Mark Heberle, English
Pat Hickman, Art
Peter Hinely, Cancer Research Center
Susan Hippensteele, Women's Studies
Mark Hukill, TIM
Brian Issell, Cancer Center
Casey Jarman, Law school
Jesse Ikaika Jones, 'Ilio'ulaokalani Coalition - UHM
Kekuhi Kanahele-Frias
Kathy Kane, Center for Teaching Excellence
Kalei Kanuha, Social Work
Gerald Kato, Journalism
Beverly Keever, Journalism
Ann Keala Kelly
Noel Kent, Ethnic Studies
George Kent, Political Science
Karl Kim, Urban and Regional Planning
Chris Kirk-Kuwaye, Honors Program
Tom Klobe, Art
Mire Koikari, Women's Studies
Denise Konan, Economics
Suzanne Kosanke, English
Sumner LaCroix, Economics
Anne Leake, Nursing
Mark Levin, Law School
Kate Lingley, Art
Kem Lowry, Urban and Regional Planning
Laura Lyons, English
Glen Man, English
Mary McDonald, Geography
Matt McGranaghan, Geography
Davianna McGregor, Ethnic Studies
Manulani Meyer, Education, UH Hilo
Rick Mills, Art
Luciano Minerbi, Urban and Regional Planning
Karl Minke, Psychology
Nalani Minton
Camaron M Miyamoto, Student Services
Paula Mochida, OVPAPP
Rodney Morales, English
Paula Morelli, Social Work
Tom Morelli, Student Services
Jon Okumura, Ethnic Studies
Katrina-Ann Rose Oliveira, Hawaiian Language
Jon Osorio, Hawaiian Studies
Gary Pak, English
Julia Parish, SOEST
Joan Peters, English
Kathy Phillips, English
Christine Quemuel, Women's Center, Student Services
Sarita Rai, Study Abroad
Rich Rath, History
Gene Ray, Art
John Rieder, English
Fred Riggs, Political Science
Nani B.K. Ross, English
Laura Ruby, Art
Lelani Russell, Biology
Joseph Salazar
Todd Sammons, English
Subramanian Shankar, English
Michael Shapiro, Political Science
Miriam Sharma, SHAPS
Noenoe Silva, Political Science
George Simson, English
Dana Singer, Urban and Regional Planning
Les Sponsel, Anthropology
Arthur Staats, Psychology
Martha Staff, Intl. Student Services
Nancy Stockert, Health Center
Fred Stone
Katherine Takara, Interdisciplinary Studies
Marata Tamaia, Anthropology
Willa Tanabe, Art
Ty Tengan, Ethnic Studies
Shiyana Therabadu, Education
James Tiles, Philosophy
Jean Toyama, French
Phyllis Turnbull, Political Science
Karen Umemoto, Urban and Regional Planning
Jon Van Dyke, Law School
Yida Wang, Art
Valierie Wayne, English
Eldon Wegner, Sociology
Geoffrey White, Anthropology
Eliza White, Ethnic Studies
George Wilkens, Math
Suzanne Wolfe, Art
Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, Hawaii Community College
Rosemary Woodruff, Student Services
Christine Yano, Anthropology
Heather Young Leslie, Anthropology
John Zuern, English