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Wednesday, March 6, 2024
"A move by Senator Donna Mercado Kim to reshape the Board of Regents into her name, image, and likeness"
By News Release @ 6:53 PM :: 2337 Views :: Ethics, Higher Education, Labor


from UHPA, Mar 5, 2024

In a highly suspenseful vote, a divided Senate rejected Alapaki Nahale-a to a second term on the UH Board of Regents by a razor thin margin of 13 – 12.  A defeat can be viewed either as a loss or an opportunity.  We understand that there were at least 15 no votes before UHPAʻs Faculty Members started reaching out to their respective Senators sharing their concerns over the conduct and behavior by certain Senators in the Higher Education Committee.  The effort you started and followed through on, resulted in a vote that couldʻve gone either way.  Given a little more time, who knows what the outcome would have been.  

It is in this light today’s vote was not necessarily a defeat.  Instead, UHPA members demonstrated that faculty will no longer condone and be silent as certain Senators continue to wreak their damage on the academy and its members.  This was not a fair fight.  Intentionally handcuffed by a weekend and short announcement, UHPA Faculty put up a valiant fight and effort in an attempt to change the narrative.  UHPA Faculty believe, given a level playing field, the outcome wouldʻve been different.

With just roughly 2,600 active UHPA members, we almost changed the course of history.  Thatʻs impact.  Thatʻs a statement.  Thatʻs activism.  

Now is a time that UHPA Faculty regroup and evolve as we continue this fight.  Beginning April 1st, UHPA will add 1.7 million new players and supporters when our affiliation with the AFT becomes official.  Next week, AFT officials from their organizing and legislative strategy department will be coming into town and meeting with UHPA and its membership on various campuses to start building a campaign and strategy to expand UHPAʻs voice and presence. 

The Faculty will no longer be spectators in the stands.  It’s time we enter as players to protect one of the Stateʻs most precious commodities, our beloved university and the students and communities they rigorously and proudly serve with honor, dignity, respect – and most importantly with ALOHA.

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Abuse of Power

There are no limits – When there is no challenge

from UHPA, Mar 2, 2024

It appears that making a statement about legislative interference and/or influence over the selection of the next UH President comes at a cost.  After watching the debacle, vicious character attacks, and hard-line criticism of BOR Chair Alapaki Nahale-a over a biased view of a lack of authority over UH President David Lassner and the administration, Senator Donna Mercado Kim and the Senate Committee on Higher Education is now prepared to stick the final dagger by sending the confirmation to the Senate floor on Tuesday, March 5th as it was announced today.  

It’s no surprise because anyone who displays calm, professional, and collaborative leadership doesnʻt get the nod of approval.  What the committee seems to be looking for is candidates who display a more combative, argumentative, hostile, and contentious attitude and behavior to get the confirmation.  There were three (3) candidates up for confirmation that day.  One candidate had all positive testimonies on their behalf.  The other two (2) had mixed reviews.  Yet, one gets the nod and the other one doesnʻt.  The only difference, that candidate spoke out against the Senator.

So here we are again.  A move by Senator Donna Mercado Kim to reshape the Board of Regents into her name, image, and likeness so that finally the Senate can get what they have long desired – control over the UH.  It appears that the advise and consent process is contingent upon being controlled.  While we hope and want to believe otherwise, the writing was on the wall way before Governor Josh Green submitted his list of nominees.

The vote will be close for sure because there are still some Senators who believe in an honest, open, and collaborative process of government that does not succumb under political pressure or performance politics.  This vote is not about Alapaki Nahale-a.  This vote is about abuse of power.  If you are frustrated now about not being at the table for the UH Presidential search or concerned about threats over your tenure, academic freedom, and decreased funding, there will be darker days ahead on the horizon. 

With the vote being scheduled so quickly time is of the essence.  UHPA urges all its members to email or contact your State Senator and ask them to keep an open mind and to objectively review a candidate's qualifications and block out the noise and speculative biases.  “Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence” – Leonardo da Vinci 

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Demystifying Facts From Fiction

Graduate Assistants Claim 80% of Undergraduate Students Are Taught by GAs

from UHPA, Feb 28, 2024

While UHPA supports the right for all public employees to have the ability to collectively bargain under the State’s collective bargaining law, statements that go unchecked can lead to unintended consequences that impact other parties.

Most recently, Academic Labor United (ALU) claimed that 80% of all undergraduate students are taught by a Graduate Assistant (GA) in any given semester.  This claim is now being used by Senator Donna Mercado Kim, Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, to attack and question the issue of Faculty workload.

ALU claimed that “In Fall 2023, out of the 1,536 graduate student workers, 579 were Teaching Assistants.  If TAs average 20 students, that means around 11,600 undergraduates have been directly affected by our labor.  The UH Mānoa undergraduate population is approximately 14,500, that’s almost 80% of the undergraduate population attending TA led classes.  And that is only considering one class.  In most cases, undergrads take multiple classes that are taught by TAs.”


In February 2023, the UHM had a total of 498 Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA). 
Of the 2543 undergraduate sections (excluding x99s) taught at Mānoa, a total of: 

579 sections, or 22.7%, involved a GTA serving in any capacity
187 sections, or 7.3%, had a GA as the instructor of record 

If we include the additional 123 sections (labs and recitations) that a GA led, we would have a total of 310 sections that involved a GA teaching undergrads, or 12.1% of all undergrad sections taught at Mānoa.


Basic elementary math reflects that these numbers do not equate close to the 80% claim by ALU and now being used against UH Faculty by Senator Donna Mercado Kim.

We hope that this type of misinformation will be corrected and clarified in that it doesn’t distract from the real issue which is GA’s are public employees and should be entitled to collective bargaining rights under the law.

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SA Column: Senators’ UH bullying is bad for aloha, state


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