When top UHM executive administrators agreed to attend a high profile ASUH General Meeting to give a presentation on the prioritization process, the response from students was tremendous. For the most part, they were excited for an opportunity to FINALLY be able to have their questions answered and their voices heard.[caption id="attachment_805" align="aligncenter" width="510" caption="KHNL did a great story that night from the students\' perspective. Click to watch the video."][/caption]
Our guests included UH Mānoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw, Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs Fransisco Hernandez, and Vice-Chancellor Reed Dasenbrock of Academic Affairs who agreed to answer any questions for at least an hours time. This was a extremely rare opportunity, as it was the chancellor's first public appearance to specifically address the budget situation to students.
[caption id="attachment_792" align="aligncenter" width="510" caption="We requested that Chancellor Hinshaw come to speak to students and respond to their concerns. Click for news video."][/caption]
A little bit of background information surrounding this meeting:
Since the beginning of my term at ASUH, we've been pushing for more student involvement in the prioritization process and any decisions made by administration regarding the State-imposed budget cuts. I have met with various executive campus administrators over the summer and, until last week, ASUH was considering passing a Senate Resolution expressing its:
"objection and deepest concern to the lack of transparency and student representation of the numerous committees regarding the prioritization and budget reorganization processes."
We weren't being heard, and administration wasn't being transparent. We had to do something about that. (See my previous post on this issue for more detail)
Leading up to Tuesday, the meeting was highly publicized (within the three business days we had to prepare) to empower students get them excited about its purpose, as well as to hold administration accountable for its decisions and answers.
[caption id="attachment_798" align="aligncenter" width="396" caption="The meeting was open to students, the public and media. The response was great!"][/caption]
ASUH had to make sure that the meeting was well-controlled so that administrators felt comfortable and the pace of the meeting allowed for a variety of students to be have their concerns addressed. Although not every student who attended the meeting was allotted time to ask their questions, it seemed as though most bases were covered. If the administrators couldn't provide an adequate answer, they at least exhibited an honest expression of their shortfalls and mistakes in dealing with the University's budget crisis.
At times, ASUH had to be a little more assertive and dynamic in its questioning than initially imagined, but in the end we made sure to get what we sought after:
The administrators agreed to hold further meetings with students for increased transparency and granted our request of two student seats on the Budget Process Committee to help make the final decisions. Mahalo to all of the students who showed up, and to the ASUH Senate for all its hard work!