Tag Archives: university of hawaii

Special Comment: Is it Contempt or Ignorance with Eric Cantor?

Earlier this month, GOP Congressman Eric Cantor introduced a strategy to help reduce government spending.  His solution: force college students who are receiving loans to repay them while they are still attending college rather than upon the completion of their time in school.

It seems like a pretty far out way of thinking.  Mr. Cantor would like to financially handcuff students who are already financially handcuffed trying to afford an education.  Either Mr. Cantor dislikes college students or he just doesn’t know any better.  I personally think Mr. Cantor is a decent human being.  That said, he likely doesn’t know any better.  The only other explanation is he doesn’t care about those struggling financially.

Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia's 7th Congressional District

Let’s take a closer look at what Mr. Cantor has presented us.  Some college students, like myself, require financial assistance to go to school.  If it were not for grants, scholarships, and loans, there would be a large section of young adults out of school.  Using the University of Hawaii at Manoa as an example, we see that resident full-time tuition (12 credits or more) is roughly $4,500 for the Fall 2011 Semester.  Out of state tuition comes in at about $12,000.  Considering that UHM is considered a bargain for tuition, we still have college students paying at least $9k and up to $24k for a single school year.  Take that number and expand that over five years (the typical amount of time to earn a Bachelor’s Degree), assuming tuition doesn’t increase, and we have total cost between $45-$120k.  Anyone have that type of money lying around?

Are we expecting the parents of those students to pay for college?  Continuing to use Hawaii as an example, the median household income from 2009 was $67k.  That would mean the average family in Hawaii would need to spend roughly 67% of their income for an entire year just to pay for tuition for a single child.  What if that family has multiple children?  Let’s also not forget mortgage/rent, food, healthcare, transportation, and other costs associated with raising a family.

This is why the federal government offers financial assistance for college students.  A healthy society needs educated citizens.  Every past civilization has shown the need for an educated population.  Mr. Cantor would seemingly like to end this goal.

If college students could afford to begin paying back their loans while still in school Mr. Cantor, there is a great chance these students wouldn’t be using loans or other financial aid in the first place.  Common sense tells us that someone using these types of services is in need of them in the first place.

For all the talk about protecting our future, it is obvious that Mr. Cantor has not followed through on that campaign promise.  His plan in no way helps protect our future.  In fact, it puts our future at risk.  This is not wise leadership Mr. Cantor.

Perhaps you are the one who needs to be in school.

*This post can also be found on The Young Writer’s Block.

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Djou Faces Hawaiian Electorate That’s More Pro-Democrat Than Pro-Incumbent

By: Jimm Phillips

Even before Rep. Charles Djou (R-Hawaii) was sworn in Tuesday, less than a week after his special election victory against a pair of feuding Democrats, pundits were already debating whether he would be able to win a full term in November. One thing some believe will work in his favor is his incumbency — and conventional wisdom states that Hawaii is one of the most pro-incumbent states in the nation. But at least one political expert says what appears to be state voters’ pro-incumbency attitude is actually just a case of being pro-Democrat.

“Generally I don’t think it’s any different than the rest of the country, which votes incumbents in most of time,” said Neal Milner, a political science professor at the University of Hawaii. “I think what’s important about Hawaii is not incumbency, it’s how strong it is for the Democrats.”

Read the full story: Washington Independent

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HB444: Civil Unions Reaching Final Battle

The issue of civil-unions in Hawaii has been much debated over the past few years.  The debate was brought to a head as HB444 made its way through both the 2009 and 2010 legislative sessions.  HB444 is centered around Hawaii recognizing civil-unions made by heterosexual and homosexual couples.  The legal recognition would allow for tax benefits, medical insurance, and various other benefits and protections that are currently afforded married couples under state laws.  Opponents of the bill point to the potential decaying of marriage if civil-unions are adopted by the state of Hawaii.  Proponents of the measure paint it as a civil-rights fight for equality and point to the possible economic boom to local businesses and tax revenues.

Thousands of people across Hawaii and the nation have come out to support civil-unions.

HB444 met a relatively quick death in the earlier session while up for vote in the Senate.  It was understood by supporters and opponents alike, that the measure would be heard again during the 2010 session.  The flow of events began quickly as the Senate passed the bill within a few weeks of opening the legislative session.  The first hurdle had been passed.  The bill was then sent to the House, which had originally created the legislation.  Under pressure by the Governor and many opponents, House Speaker Calvin Say, indefinitely postponed any voting on the bill.  The thought was to focus on the issues of the budget, teacher furloughs, job creation and boosting the down economy.  The bill would sit dormant for nearly the entire session.  With a huge groundswell of public participation, proponents of the bill rallied their supporters and flooded the legislature with pleas to bring back the bill for a final floor vote.  Some opponents also argued for the bill to be brought for a final floor vote.

On the final day and in the final hours, HB444 was reintroduced to the House and promptly passed a final vote.  Cheers went through the gallery of supporters.  The bill is now sitting on the desk of Gov. Linda Lingle.  She has the choice to sign the bill into law, veto the bill or do nothing and allow the bill to become law on its own.  Gov. Lingle recently wrapped up meetings with delegations from both ends of the debate.  She also was aided by a recent release by two University of Hawaii researchers on the economic effects of HB444 becoming law.  Gov. Lingle has not released any timetable for her decision.

The fate of HB444 will likely be decided in the residence of Gov. Lingle.

The recent report on the economic effects of HB444 on Hawaii was released earlier in the week.  The report included some very interesting conclusions.  One such conclusion stated that the state of Hawaii would not be saddled with a large monetary hit by extending services and transferring benefits to couples who enter into civil-unions.  The report also seemed to poke a hole in the tourism aspect of the debate for proponents.  The research found only slight bumps to the economy and tourism of areas in the country that have adopted similar measures as HB444.  The report found that most of the visitors will have already entered into civil-unions and would be traveling here with their families.  Initial response from proponents point to the fact that none of those areas have the tourism clout as Hawaii has.  It seems to be an interesting debate that will continue even after the actions of Gov. Lingle.

HB444 has been a very polarizing issue for the state of Hawaii as well as the rest of the nation.  The legislative session of 2010 will be remembered for the passage of the bill and could very well be immortalized if the legislation becomes law.  From a prognosticator stand point, it seems that Gov. Lingle will weigh all of the arguments for and against the measure.  She will also take an independent look at all the resources available to her on the matter.  Hopefully Gov. Lingle will not allow political pressure or religious beliefs to cloud her decision.  It is the hopes of this writer that she will allow the bill to become law.

Hawaii needs to lead on this issue.  It is time we begin to earn our moniker as the “Aloha State.”  If you haven’t shared your opinion on the issue, you can do so by contacting the Office of the Governor of Hawaii.

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Finding a Way Forward for University of Hawaii Athletics

*cross posted with Kanu Hawaii*

The University of Hawaii is searching for a way to put it’s athletics program back in the financial black.  The school is also looking to get increased support from the student body for athletic events.  One simple yet controversial idea is being pushed by the UH-Athletics Department and UH Chancellor.  The athletic department would like to see a $50 student activity fee be added to every student enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Manoa for every semester.  The fee has been calculated to raise about $2 million every year for the school.  That money would go towards student-athlete scholarships, summer school and various athletic equipment.

Currently, Hawaii competes in the Western Athletic Conference(WAC) for most of it’s athletics teams.  Hawaii is the only school in the conference that does not have an athletics or activity in place.  Many of the schools in the conference charge a fee that is higher than the proposed $50 fee for Hawaii.  The money is a way of paying it forward in terms of student involvement in the schools’ athletic programs.  UH has already announced it’s intentions of increasing the amount of seating available to students at sporting events.  Many of the events would allot for a number of free tickets to be made available to students.  Imagine an additional 5,000 boisterous University of Hawaii students at every home football game.  Imagine a larger student presence at every basketball or volleyball match in the Stan Sheriff Center.  One needs only to look at any successful football, basketball, or volleyball college program to see the huge impact that is made when an arena or stadium is filled with highly caffeinated and disturbingly loud college students.

Free admission to UH sporting events would be available with the $50 student activites fee.

The University of Hawaii has long been trying to get it’s students to be more involved in the campus life.  The $50 fee would also go a long way in increasing the amounts of concerts and other activities that would take place on the campus.  Students are more likely to engage with their peers at these events than they are to ignore them completely.  The more popular the events are that will be held at the school, the more likely there is to be an increased affinity for the university by the alumni and community.  That affinity would lead to a stronger alumni donor presence and an increased community participation in the school’s activities.  Ultimately a successful and strong university needs a good foundation of involved alumni and community.

The current state of the athletic department is one of a constant struggle to put out successful programs while being tied to a tight budget.  Prior to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the athletic department routinely returned a profit.  However, rising costs across the board and the changing athletic landscape has put a serious hamper on any effort to balance the budget.  The department has contemplated cutting different sports in an effort to help bridge the gap to economic recovery.  Going down this road of cutting a program would mean a loss of a cherished athletic program and also the loss of enrollment connected to the sport itself.  The department has already made difficult cuts in its travel budget and in the administration areas.  Many of the vacant positions have been cut and many offices have been combined or streamlined.  The department has also invested in finding smaller ways to save money like becoming a more green and energy efficient department.

The University of Hawaii makes about $400,000 annually from parking generated by sporting events yet the athletics department receives none of that money.

Ultimately the increased $50 fee that will be added to students will allow the University of Hawaii to lessen the amount of appropriation in its budget for the athletic department.  $2 million would be essentially freed up from its current use and could be spent on facility upgrades and expanding educational programs.  The money would also likely increased the effectiveness of the athletic programs of the university and would exponentially increase the exposure of the school.  After all, sometimes its a lot more helpful to see a thirty second segment on Hawaii football on a national sports program than it is to read about a science award being given to the school.  The University of Hawaii needs a successful athletics program and one step in that direction is this simple $50 fee.

Get Informed and Get Involved!