It takes courage to go against the grain and to stand up for what is right. Mahalo to Sen. Karl Rhoads and Sen. Brian Taniguchi for voting “no” on SB 3269 SD 2, relating to academic tenure of faculty. These two bravely called out the elephant in the room rather than simply go with the flow by voting in favor of the bill with 23 other senators. Mahalo to Sen. Rhoads and Sen. Taniguchi for standing with faculty and not compromising their principles.
SB 3269 SD 2 Still Moving to Put UH Under The PIG
Despite the bill passing to the House, UHPA remains adamantly against the bill and its implications for UH faculty. The bill, in its most recent iteration, proposes a statute that coerces the UH Board of Regents and the UH president to think and act in a way prescribed by certain legislators to suit their own agenda. The Bill states this intention very clearly:
“Direct the board of regents and the president of the University of Hawaii to discuss and adopt the recommendations of the permitted interaction group on tenure and to confer with the faculty and the exclusive representative of each applicable collective bargaining unit to implement the permitted interaction group on tenure’s recommendations.”
But the BOR Rejected the PIG
The truth is, the UH Board of Regents did NOT accept the recommendations of the Tenure Permitted Interaction Group. In fact, at its February 17, 2022, the BOR voted to disregard the findings and recommendations of the dissolved Tenure PIG (Permitted Interaction Group) and to adopt the Report of the Senate Concurrent Resolution 201 (2021) Task Force. How much clearer can this be made?
While SCR 201 Reported Tenure Should Not Be Changed
As you may recall, this report was requested by the Senate in the previous legislative session. UH administration and UHPA worked collaboratively to fulfill that request by conducting exhaustive research on the tenure system of peer institutions. The findings of the task force showed there was no reason to change the current tenure system at the University of Hawai‘i.
Accepting the Rejected and Rejecting the Accepted – Why?
It is puzzling why the Senate has chosen to ignore this document but wants to base a law on the Tenure PIG, which has already been dismissed by the Board of Regents with the support of UH administration, UHPA, and faculty.
What Kind of Faculty Will Want to Apply At UH Now?
All of Hawai‘i should be embarrassed that these self-serving legislators and their meddling tactics have attracted national attention. It makes prospective faculty think twice about applying for positions at the UH and this will adversely impact faculty recruitment and retention.
The article in Inside Higher Education, titled, “Hawaii Senator Takes Aim at Tenure—and More,” Sen. Donna Mercado Kim tells an alternative story:
A Confused Lawmaker?
“Kim notes that the effort to revise tenure emerged from the Board of Regents, as part of a task force known as a policy implementation group. ‘What I keep pointing out is this is not our recommendation; it came out of the Board of Regents,” she said… At a meeting last month, the Board of Regents ultimately adopted the recommendations from the Senate report and not the policy implementation group’s. Kim’s bill requires regents to ‘discuss and adopt’ the recommendations of the policy implementation group, which the Board of Regents previously shot down.’”
The article concludes with Sen. Mercado Kim attempting to justify her actions:
“At the end of the day, Kim suggested that it isn’t her clashes with UH at the heart of her legislation, but rather that she has a ‘history of looking at things and revamping, upgrading and renewing,’ ultimately pushing institutions toward uncomfortable changes. ‘Sometimes that’s met with a lot of objections because things have been done a certain way for the longest time,’ Kim said.”