University of Hawaiʻi President David Lassner shared a message on October 30 to students, faculty and staff of the UH campuses.
Aloha to all our UH students, faculty and staff:
Recent events have been disturbing to many within UH, as has been repeatedly shared with me. In just the last 10 days we learned of an internal federal agency document calling for the withdrawal of recognition of transgender people, an individual was arrested for sending pipe bombs to prominent individuals around the country who have expressed political views in opposition to his own, and over the weekend we saw a horrific, murderous attack on people who were doing nothing more than celebrating the sabbath according to their religious traditions.
While these events may seem far away for some of us, we must all recognize that they are deeply impactful to many. Particularly affected are those who feel directly threatened based on their gender expression or sexual identity, their political views, their religion or their race/ethnicity.
Last year the UH Mānoa deans developed a statement about aspirations for the campus that included the following: “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 coexist but synergistically thrive together. As the UH motto tells us: Ma luna aʻe o nā lāhui a pau ke ola ke kanaka. Above all nations is humanity.”
While we alone may not be able to reverse divisiveness across our country, we can and must provide a climate of aloha within the University of Hawaiʻi. I urge all of us to be attentive to the importance of expressing kindness, compassion and understanding to one another, particularly in difficult times. And those who feel threatened should reach out for help from an appropriate campus office.
We do not all need to agree on every issue before us. But we can and must live together peacefully and extend human dignity to all. UH is widely recognized as the most diverse higher education institution in the country. As such, we are perfectly positioned to develop and model the behaviors we hope to see in our society-at-large through how we listen to one another and how we treat one another. Our future is ours to create, together.
UH President and UH Mānoa Interim Chancellor