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Communicate with the Senate

March 23, 2000


TO: William A. Lampe, Vice Chair
Manoa Faculty Senate

FROM: Kenneth P. Mortimer
President, University of Hawai'i and
Chancellor, University of Hawai'i at Manoa


Thank you for your letter of March 22, 2000, regarding faculty concerns about the presence of armed law enforcement personnel (not 'police' as stated in your memo) on campus during the March 16, 2000 Board of Regents meeting.

The safety of all of the participants of the civil disobedience protest on March 16, 2000 was the primary concern during our planning.

Prior to the March 16, 2000 Board of Regents meeting demonstration, Captain Don Dawson, head of Campus Security, and Alan Yang, Dean of Students, met with the student leaders of the protest, and were told that the number of participants could be as high as 1500, and that they could not be held responsible for the actions of non-students. At that meeting, the student leaders also expressed grave concerns about a Honolulu Police Department presence at the March 15 sleep-in. Captain Dawson assured the student leaders that they would have to deal only with Campus Security at the sleep-in as long as there were no criminal acts. That commitment was kept, and only Campus Security was present during the sleep-in.

Given the unknown size or actions of demonstrators outside the control of the students at the March 16, 2000 demonstration, a 'back up' force of State Deputy Sheriffs from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) was felt to be prudent, and was arranged. To not do so given the information at hand would have been irresponsible. They were staged in the parking lot of the Biomedical Science Building to allow timely intervention should it be necessary. The clear understanding with the DPS was that they would be used only as a last resort, and that their deployment would be only upon the personal order of the President or the Senior Vice President for Administration. We were committed to avoiding any physical action such as arrests or physical removal of demonstrators unless absolutely necessary. The DPS force was never deployed, and in fact were reduced during the course of the afternoon as the threat from outsiders did not materialize.

The decision to stage the DPS force on campus was a mistake, and I have counseled Senior Vice President Imai on this. The response to what would have been a 'last resort' call in a timely manner resulted in the DPS picking that site. This should have been overruled.

Let me reiterate the Administration's position to support the free exchange of ideas as long as this does not pose a risk to the safety and security of the University, our faculty and students. To this end, I have asked members of my staff to form a committee with appropriate student and faculty representation to insure that the above continues to occur.

This is a matter we take seriously. I have asked my staff to arrange for a meeting with you and other representatives from the Faculty Senate Executive Committee immediately to discuss this further.

c: SVP/EVC Smith
Chair Tiles

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