rainbow over Hawaii Hall

University of Hawaiʻi President and Interim UH Mānoa Chancellor David Lassner shared a message on September 8 to students, faculty and staff of the UH Mānoa campus.

Aloha to the entire UH Mānoa Community:

The last weeks and months have challenged us in ways we have not experienced for some time. Like universities across the country, we have experienced incidents that have been disturbing to members of our community.

Last week I was privileged to participate in an extended conversation with the UH Mānoa deans during which we talked about the kind of campus we want to be. The deans began to craft a statement, which is not finalized, but which I think can already be an important part of the dialogue we all need. So, with permission, I share below the sense of our deans.

We recognize that cultures offer essential comforts, dignity and protection to the diverse peoples of the world and we therefore affirm that all human beings are entitled to the respect of their culture and who they are. We know absolutely that people of different cultures, backgrounds and beliefs can not only peacefully co-exist but synergistically thrive together. And we firmly reject any doctrine that positions as inferior or unwelcome any culture, religious belief, race, gender or sexual orientation. We commit to uphold a campus free of violence, hate speech and intimidation and will not tolerate any breaches of this principle. As the UH Motto tells us: Ma luna aʻe o nā lāhui a pau ke ola ke kanaka. Above all nations is humanity.

Part of what we do at our university is introduce members of our community to the world around us through others of diverse backgrounds and experience. Indeed, one of the strengths of UH Mānoa is our status as the most diverse research university in the country. So our opportunities for positive engagement are unmatched. Achieving the positive and supportive environment we seek may be a challenge, but it is a challenge the campus leadership and I welcome. We hope you will join us.

This is not about conservative or liberal, white or non-white. Everyone must be respected in this wonderfully diverse community in which we are privileged to learn and teach and work.

Our policies and procedures regarding workplace violence and non-discrimination are essential, as is our commitment to free expression and academic freedom. But our campus climate is not created by formal authority and policy. We collectively shape our environment when we reach out individually to others as human beings—or when we choose to ignore what we see impacting others around us. We each need to show zero tolerance for violence and hate, educate those who exhibit a lack of empathy and understanding of others, and support those who become targets because of who they are.

The university provides a wide array of services for students, faculty and staff. If you need assistance, please reach out to our campus support services.

With aloha,
David Lassner
Interim Chancellor

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