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Tues Oct 22: Bitch out loud at HPU’s Town Hall Meeting

    By Pavel Stankov. October 19, 2013 - 8:23 am


Noon, Tuesday, Oct. 22, Hawaii Loa Campus. Be there.


Let me ask you: Do you want to be that guy, commenting online at student review sites?

“There is no challenge at HPU. If you are looking to pay for a degree this is the place to go, if you are looking to learn and gain something from your degree go somewhere else.  Aside from the horrible educational standards the staff at Hawaii Pacific University is unhelpful and rude.  Do not go to HPU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Or that girl?

“The dorms are gross, out-dated, and if anything breaks plan on fixing it yourself or waiting a week for maintenance to come.  Also, if you plan on having friends visit that are not HPU students expect a thorough background check and strip search.  It is harder to get on this campus than some military bases I would imagine. … Hands down, the worst aspect of this college … There is ONE dining hall in which you are forced to eat the gross, bug- infested food.  The health department has been here twice already and found HPU in violation of many health and sanitary codes. …. I am planning on moving back to Ohio and completing my degree there.”

Well, for them it might be too late for their voices to be heard. But guess what, we have an opportunity to voice our opinions next week. On Tuesday Oct. 22, 12 p.m. at the Hawaii Loa Campus HPU is holding the second Town Hall meeting, organized by HPU and partnering architect company Ayers Saint Gross.

This will be a time when the barriers between decision-makers and those who are affected by their decisions will crumble. Everyone will be able to bring their concerns to the table.

The first Town Hall meeting identified 12 things that were wrong with HPU from the perspective of a segment from the entire community. Nevertheless, the number of students, especially on September 6, was unsatisfactory.

We need to change that on Tuesday. Here are seven reasons why:

1. It’s about us. Those who are impacted the most from the changes the school is going through are the students. This is why we need to hold our ground and make a statement. Here the discussion is about very tangible results that involve us. We are the people who run this school because we pay the big tuition bucks. They serve us because we cover their bills, and it’s helpful to keep this in mind.

2. It’s about those after us. Student Body President Miina Huotari said it best in a recent Kalamalama post inviting us to push the boundaries of our engagement. “It is now the time to have an impact on the future of our institution, and create the legacy that will carry over to future generations,” Huotari said. Everything we do has resonance in the future.

3. We’d better get on that train or it’s leaving without us. HPU has captured a forward momentum and is moving quickly ahead (the resolve of the HPU administration is laudable). This means there will be profound decisions made as a result of the Town Hall meetings with or without student participation. Which way do you prefer, with or without us?

4. This opportunity doesn’t come often. Universities don’t create Master Plans every year, as those are meant to be stable. For each of us it is more or less guaranteed we won’t have the opportunity to participate in anything like this again.

5. Our feedback will make an impact. It’s not every day that somebody asks us what we think with the intent to listen to our opinion. And the professionals at ASG will listen (see next point).

“We believe it’s real important to have an engaged process,” said associate principal Kevin King during the September 6 meeting. “We find that if we get people talking about these issues, we learn more about the process, people feel like more of their ideas are being used and incorporated into the plan, and I think there’s a greater sense of ownership about that.”

Community engagement is a standard practice in all campus strategic planning initiatives because it is necessary for making college education better.

6. Our feedback will make us better citizens. This is how we create a responsible society – it starts with realizing that our voices have value and it continues with exercising our freedom of expression.

A case in point: In the recent SGA elections, only about 500 of the entire HPU population voted. That’s one in eleven, or 9.09%. Do we want to live in a society where 9% of the eligible vote? Of course not! It’s up to us to make the world of tomorrow a better place, isn’t it? Well, here’s what college is for. Let’s forget for a second about our aspirations for a degree and the pieces of paper we will get. Forget about the jobs we’re hoping to land once we get out… It’s not only about that. It’s about preparing ourselves for the world outside, the world where we will be making stuff happen – manage businesses, save lives, teach others, create art, write novels. So let’s start making stuff happen now.

7. We will show that we matter. A story to illustrate the point. In 1981 UC Santa Cruz became a member of NCAA. Then Chancellor Robert Sinsheimer ignored the popular unofficial campus talisman – the common on campus grounds banana slug – in favor of a “mascot with spirit and vigor,” namely, a sea lion. Bad decision. A grassroots movement ensued and after a couple of years of campaigning and activism in 1986 the Plato-reading happy-go-lucky yellow mollusk became the school’s official symbol under the banner Fiat Slug (“May there be a slug”).

What this shows is that students are not and should not be expected to be passive receptors of the decisions of administrators. Students matter. Students can direct where a University is going with the help of the administrators they pay with their tuition: we need to get the power direction right here – they work for us, we don’t work for them.

We all have points of disagreement with some of HPU’s policies. Administrators have years of experience in what they do, but their lives would be made much easier if they could get some sense of direction from us.

If you’re given the chance to say what you feel, what you admire, and what you despise, but waste that opportunity, you have no right to criticize.

“If you don’t want to make it better, even though you see room for improvement and have been given the chance, then don’t complain.”

Don’t be that guy, disgruntled and ill-willed, fuming on some Internet review site warning others from making a mistake. Now there’s a real opportunity for impact and legacy that we just can’t afford to miss.

Love it? Show up and say so. You’ve got a problem – well, most of us do.

Come to the next Town Hall meeting, Tuesday Oct. 22, and bitch out loud!

Remember: it is about us. It’s not about the Master Plan, and it’s not about the architect company that’s so kindly asking us for constructive criticism. It’s about us and our future.


Photo: Maren Bjoergum