Campus elevators to receive a lift

Published on Oct. 20, 2014.
Published on Oct. 20, 2014.

Last spring, history professor Karen Jolly was riding in one of Sakamaki Hall’s elevators when the elevator’s power went out, leaving her confined in the dark for more than half an hour.

 Jolly was with another staff member, but this wasn’t the first time she had gotten stuck. During the same semester, Jolly’s elevator stopped between two floors when she was alone.

 The elevators in these buildings are part of a group of 17 elevators that will be replaced in the second phase of the campus’ Elevator Modernization Project.

 “This project was started because the elevators have exceeded their normal life cycle expectancy and are performing unreliably,” Stephen Meder, interim assistant vice chancellor for Planning and Facilities, said  in an email interview.

 The repairs come when many elevators on campus are already 10 to 20 years beyond their intended lifespan. Consequences of using such old elevators have ranged from extended wait times to faculty and students getting stuck in cabs for hours at a time.

 The project should minimize the amount of trouble calls, Meder said.

 “The UH Mānoa campus administration and Office of Planning and Facilities are spending millions of dollars to modernize the campus,” he said. “We are making it safer, more energy efficient and better operating. This is happening on many fronts – from rooftops, through elevators, to renovating buildings and modernizing infrastructure.”

 Since the incidents last spring, Jolly has taken the stairs to get to her fourth floor office.


 There are approximately 94 elevators on campus, some of which are between 30-50 years old. According to Meder, the typical lifespan of an elevator is between 20-30 years.

 “That’s really scary, because I’ve been in some where they make funny noises, and I just assume that they’re up to date because it’s a school, right?” senior Tessa Peaslee said. “I hope nothing bad ever happens.”

 Junior George Bonilla said he supports the project since elevator maintenance is a safety concern.

 “If there’s any technical difficulties, they should fix it because that’s a hazard for students,” he said. “It’s a safety factor, and it’s all about the students being safe to go to classes.”

 The main factor that determines an elevator’s life span, according to Michael Plunkett, branch manager for KONE elevators in Honolulu, is the amount of use it gets.

 “If it’s in a heavy-used area, it’s going to wear out a lot faster,” he said. “Just like a car, it’s not so much the years but the miles. It’s the same with elevators.”

 Another thing to consider is the environment in which the elevator is installed.

“If it’s exposed to a lot of water, salt air, that type of thing, the elevators will wear out a lot quicker than if they’re inside a building where it’s basically sealed up,” he said. “In climate-controlled buildings, the equipment’s going to last a lot longer.”

 The original design of an elevator also plays a role.

 “Some elevators are better than others” Plunkett said. “I find that traction elevators, for example, are ones that have steel cables that move them up and down, tend to last longer than hydraulic elevators.”


 According to Meder, there will be as many as five phases of the project as the number of trouble calls there are about them determines the elevators in each phase. Currently, 44 elevators on campus have been identified.

 Since July 2012, Facilities Management has renovated 13 elevators on campus, including those at the Art Building and Bilger Hall. That figure doesn’t include any of the 17 currently under repair.

 General Obligation Bond Funds for Mānoa Capital Renewal and Deferred Maintenance projects are used to fund the project, according to Meder.

 In March, Facilities Management plans to start work on 14 elevators, including some in Kuykendall Hall and Watanabe Hall.

 Jolly said she looks forward to the new elevators but is concerned about how well they’ll function. The same day she got stuck in Sakamaki’s elevator a second time, she was told another person had gotten stuck in one in Moore Hall.

 “That made me nervous because I thought well those are new elevators,” she said.

According to Meder, Thyseen Krupps, KONE, Otis, Schindler Elevator and Mitsubishi Electric maintain campus elevators.

 “UHM is in the early stages of a decade of renewal,” he said. “We may be inconvenienced by the ongoing construction, but each new improvement moves us closer to the high-quality 21st century campus that our students, faculty, staff, alumni, visitors and the people of Hawai‘i deserve.”


From Jan. 1, 2014 to Oct. 10, 2014, there were six reported instances where the elevator did not open when a rider was inside, according to information from the Work Coordination Center. This figure does not include situations where the door opened before a trouble call was placed and/or before service personnel responded.

 Three of the instances occurred in the Sakamaki Hall elevators. Five instances occurred during the spring 2014 semester, and one occurred during this semester.

Elevator problems should be reported to the Work Coordination Center at 956-7134 or to the Department of Public Safety at 956-6911 on weekends or after 4:15 p.m. on weekdays.


Students express their message again

Published on Sept. 22, 2014.
Published on Sept. 22, 2014.

Written by Noelle Fujii and Meakalia Previch-Liu.

After having their message removed from the front steps of Campus Center the first time, a group of students has once again chalked a message: Fix UH Mānoa.

Students from the campus Graduate Student Organization (GSO), along with  other students, wrote the words (which were determined at the time Ka Leo went to press) Sunday evening in an effort to share their message with the campus community.

“We feel that essentially we need to fix UH Mānoa; we (need) shared governance, we need to fix any barriers to shared governance, we need transparency,” GSO Vice President Rebekah Carroll said in a phone interview. “Faculty, staff, students, we’re the key stakeholders. Particularly students; there are 20,000 of us that administration is responsible to. And being responsible to us means, listening to us, and across college campuses shared governance is a cornerstone to how a campus should be run.”

GSO had chalked its message last Monday night, but it was taken down due to a miscommunication with the overnight crews, according to Carroll.

“We’ve been discussing what happened with (Student Life and Development) SLD. We’ve been in contact with them,” she said. “And then because it was washed down before, obviously, before our reservation, it something much too large to put back up the next morning…. We feel that because it was washed down before 5 a.m. nobody saw it, which means that what we were trying to express and share with the campus community wasn’t seen.”

Sunday’s message will be up for as long as GSO’s reservation of the free speech zone is good for all day, according to Carroll. GSO sought permission from another student organization to keep the sign up through Thursday and it was approved.

The loosely-formed group of students and faculty that wrote the message, according to GSO President Michelle Tigchelaar, shares the name “Fix UH Mānoa.” The group has been trying to improve transparency and accountability and shared governance on the campus.

The first chalking

Bonnyjean Manini, interim director for SLD said at ASUH’s meeting last Wednesday that she was present on the night of the chalking at the recreation center at 9:30 p.m. when the chalking had started. She said she wasn’t aware that GSO was going to be writing “Fix UH Mānoa” in chalk.

“I saw a cluster of the student and full-time employees standing around and I could sense that they were concerned about the chalking,” Manini said. “My immediate response was to go there to support that the chalking not be removed and that student voice be represented in the Campus Center, whether or not we agree or disagree with it as the workers of Student Life and Development.”

She said when GSO left, she let maintenance know about the chalking that had occurred, as work shift changes took place.

“We have people that work 24/7, so there are shift changes that are happening. I called to say, ‘Be sure that shifts will know overnight to not wash down the stairs, to let it stay’,” she said.

Manini added that she contacted GSO as soon as she discovered the chalk washed away in the morning.

“I emailed GSO immediately, the people that I had seen the night before to communicate to let them know,“ Manini said. “They didn’t come to me, I went to them to let them know, ‘I’m sorry, but it was washed out, I’m going to find out what is going on,’ and all yesterday we’ve been in communication by email.”

Manini said there’s no established protocol in SLD’s maintenance unit for chalking.

“… It’s just suppose to be washed down,” she said. “I plan to address this protocol because I feel like that’s where one of the issues is, where they just assume that they have to wash it down immediately to clean up the facilities so that it’s nice, but in this case it caused a real challenge cause the student voice was erased.”

ASUH reacts to first chalking

ASUH senator Martin Nguyen introduced a resolution Sept. 17 condemning the lack of accountability and transparency in response to the chalk incident.

The resolution was not passed at the meeting as many senators wanted numerous amendments. Senators said they wanted a clearer picture of what they were voting on, Nguyen said, and the student body ultimately decided to table the motion until its Oct. 1 general senate meeting.

“We will present a version of the bill, typed and printed out to the senate where they can have a better understanding of what their voting on,” Nguyen said. “From what I feel, everything we needed to talk about in principle was there, it’s just there were a few senators that didn’t understand what they were voting for.”

Is Mānoa missing out on international students?

Published on Oct. 6, 2014.
Published on Oct. 6, 2014.

Written by Abbygail Sadoy and Noelle Fujii. 

As universities and colleges across the country see increasing international student enrollment, the Mānoa campus has seen a decrease.

For the past 20 years, the number of students coming to Mānoa from other countries has declined from nearly 1,800 students enrolled in 1994 to nearly 1,200 students enrolled in 2013.

“It’s kind of hard to believe, considering Hawai‘i is a good location to study,” said Justin Calso, a junior finance and international business major.


According to the Institute of Higher Education’s Open Doors Data, the number of international students studying at U.S. universities and colleges is increasing. In academic year 2012-13, the country saw a 7.2 percent jump from the previous year with a 5.7 percent jump before that.

According to numbers provided by the International Student Services (ISS) office on campus, 1,778 international students attended Mānoa in 1994. In years following, that number varied, decreasing to 1,333 in 1999 and increasing to 1,703 in 2004. In 2013, there were 1,128 international students.

These numbers, taken each fall semester, include students on  F-1 and J-1 visas who are required to be full-time students, according to Martha Staff, assistant director of ISS.

“The key to whether a student receives the F-1 or J-1 certificate of eligibility for a visa depends on various factors: funding in general, requirements of specific scholarships (both East West Center and Fulbright students are required to have J-1), home country preferences or requirements and in cases, student preferences,” she said in an email interview.

Staff said the campus’s international enrollment decline has been happening for quite some time.

“There has been a steadily decreasing international enrollment at UH Mānoa in the past two decades,” she said.

This decrease reflects numerous influences, she said, including dramatic increases in non-resident tuition, as well as concurrent decreases in some scholarships for international students that had been offered by the campus and the East-West center.

According to tuition data from the Office of the Registrar, non-resident tuition was $2,230 a semester in academic year 1994-95 for full-time undergraduate students. In 2014 dollars, tuition cost $3,579.01 in 1994.

This academic year, tuition is $14,316 for full-time undergraduate non-residents a semester, according to the campus’s course catalog.

“We believe that the high cost of living, the limited job market in Hawai‘i and Hawai‘i’s geographical isolation continue to play significant roles in the choice of UH Mānoa as a study destination for students [and their parents] from some parts of the world,” Staff said.

Calso, who has been a member of the campus’ International Student Association for the past four years, agrees.

“The first reason that I thought of was that it’s expensive. Tuition for regular students has gone up. I wouldn’t be surprised if international students had to pay way more,” he said.

He added that the name of the school is also a factor in how international students decide where to go in the U.S.

“Students may prefer to go to the mainland for that full American experience with schools that are more well-known, especially the Ivy Leagues,” he said.


The Asia-Pacific Tuition Differential Exemption (APTDE) was offered by the campus until 2007 to entering international students from selected Asian and Pacific nations. The scholarship, which was established by the state legislature in the 1980s, was administered by the ISS to up to 600 undergraduate and graduate students per year. If the students met the required 3.0 GPA at previous colleges and universities, their non-resident differential was waived so they could pay resident tuition rates.

“This very generous scholarship preceded the so-called UH autonomy, and large state budget cuts and the resulting tuition increases that have occurred over time,” Staff said. “The lack of this scholarship since its demise has, we believe, made a significant difference in recruitment as well as retention of international students at UH Mānoa.”

Governor selects members to fill Board of Regents vacancies

Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed four nominees to fill the four vacancies on the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents today.

Abercrombie appointed Simeon Acoba, Dr. Dileep Bal, Peter Hoffmann and Helen Nielsento the 15-member board; their appointments, which are interim and subject to state Senate approval, will take effect immediately.

“With backgrounds in law, health, the military and environmental sustainability, these appointees bring a diverse spectrum of leadership to the University of Hawaii,” Abercrombie said in a press release. “They each have a proven record of success in their respective fields of expertise and will help guide the university to a new level of excellence.”

Acoba, who was appointed to a City and County of Honolulu seat, is currently a lecturer in UH’s William S. Richardson School of Law. He also served on the Supreme Court, starting in 2000.

Bal, who was appointed to the Kauaʻi County seat, works as Kauaʻi’s district health officer and as special advisor to the director of the Department on Cancer, Chronic Disease, Tobacco and Nutrition/Obesity.

Hoffmann, who was appointed to the Hawaiʻi County seat, served on the Hawaiʻi County Council for eight years, representing the Kohala District. He also served as council chair for two years.

Nielson was appointed to the Maui County Seat and is currently a field representative for Sen. Brian Schatz. She also co-owns and manages commercial properties on Maui and Hawaiʻi island.

Students lose stipends to financial aid

Published on Sept. 29, 2014.
Published on Sept. 29, 2014.

Students receiving financial aid up to their cost of attendance now have to pay back their stipends to the campus financial aid office.

According to Jodie Kuba, director of Financial Aid Services, the office has always asked students to report any financial assistance – or any aid received because of post-secondary enrollment – they are receiving.

That includes stipends from on-campus volunteer positions at Mānoa’s chartered student organizations, such as the Associated Students of the University of Hawai‘i, Ka Leo and the Campus Center Board, which depend on hundreds of students and pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars in stipends each year.

Kuba adds that if a student receives a stipend and his or her financial need is reduced, his or her aid that was based on financial need will also be reduced. Stipends are considered estimated financial assistance, according to the financial aid office.

In fall 2013, the office began to receive monthly reports through the university’s Kuali Financial System that listed students receiving stipends and began adjusting students’ aid at that time.

Approximately 12,000 students receive financial aid at Mānoa, according to Kuba, and roughly 10 percent of them receive stipends.

According to Jill Shigano, a staff member for Student Life Business Services, approximately 265 students receive over $480,000 in stipends a year from the fiscal office.

Paying back stipends

Stipends are paid through Mānoa’s fiscal office as a paper check. They do not go through the Banner Student Information System (SIS), which financial aid uses to track most student funding.

“Financial aid, at the end of the month, gets the Kuali report; we reflect their stipend as a resource and adjust their other financial aid accordingly, which may cause the reversal of their financial aid on the Banner SIS,” Kuba said in an email interview. “Now the student will owe the institution for the reversal of financial aid.”

Robinson Bucaneg, a senior in mechanical engineering and a member of the campus’s Student Activity and Program Fee Board, is one student who is affected by this change.

At the beginning of the spring 2014 semester, Financial Aid Services put a hold on his account for $400 and notified him that he owed the money.

“I contacted the financial aid office and they proceeded to tell me that now they’re counting stipends as income,” he said. “I had to essentially pay back that money, which I thought was very odd.”

After questioning financial aid, Bucaneg discovered that the policy had always been there, but the office has just started to enforce it.

The money he owed was the amount he received in stipends the previous semester.

“I don’t think they really made that policy clear. I don’t think they’re making it clear to everyone else,” he said, adding he never received notification that financial aid was enforcing the policy other than through his contact with financial aid.

According to Kuba, the office has always asked students to report the resources they receive. The office then follows up with an email to them.

The email states that if students receive other forms of financial assistance in addition to those in the office’s Award Offer – such as assistance from Kamehameha Schools, the UH Foundation, stipends, fellowships and resident advisor stipends, they must notify FAS. Students may receive adjustments to their awards to reflect the increase in their resources, as mandated by federal regulations.

“Failure to notify FAS may delay your financial aid disbursement and/or may require you to repay the university,” said the email that Kuba provided.

A possible workaround? 

“We’re volunteering our time and the stipend is essentially supposed to be like a reward for the time we put in,” Bucaneg said.

He doesn’t think stipends should be considered income, but if there’s no way for financial aid to change its policy, he thinks it should be made clear that a stipend could possibly jeopardize a student’s financial aid package.

“If I knew that, then I wouldn’t have accepted my financial aid in full so that I wouldn’t have to pay it back later on. I would have been able to prepare for it, essentially,” he said.

According to Kuba, if the stipend was used to cover additional expenses not already reflected in the student’s cost of attendance, the department that issued the stipend can provide a memo of expenses associated with the stipend. This would increase the student’s cost of attendance, which would allow the student to receive additional funding and possibly not affect the aid they already received. Students would not have to pay back any funds.

“If the stipend does not have any associated expenses tied to it, the student would need to check with our office for options on increasing their cost of attendance,” she said. “However, increases to cost of attendance are limited.”

Kuba added that the office allows increases to a student’s cost of attendance for items such as cost for a computer, out of pocket medical expenses, childcare expenses, air fare travel costs for outerisland and non-resident students.

“The student would need to ask what is possible and provide the necessary documentation/ receipts,” she said.

According to Kuba, the number of times a student will need to pay back his or her stipend depends on if that student informs the office ahead of time.

“If the student tells us ahead of time the total amount of their stipends for the academic year, then we would only need to adjust once,” she said. “If the student does not inform us, we use the monthly Kuali report and if every month, the student receives a stipend and it affects their other financial aid, we will adjust each month accordingly.”

Bucaneg said the office should have made this clear from the beginning.

“I would’ve prepared for it or I would’ve just taken my stipend and put it on the side because I would have just known that oh, I’m going to have to pay this back anyway,” he said. “Part of me has even considered just rejecting my stipend and not receiving it at all just so I don’t have to worry about this in the future.”

ASUH gives approval for student sustainability fund

A fee that will fund students’ sustainable initiatives and research gained the undergraduate student government’s approval at a meeting earlier today.

The Associated Students of the University of Hawaiʻi (ASUH) passed resolution 02-15, “In support of the creation of a student sustainability fund on the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa campus,” with a majority of senators present approving it.

“We’re making change,” said ASUH senator Blaize Sanchez, who introduced the resolution. “Pretty much, we have taken the steps in our own hands to change the way we view ourselves, the university and what we can do in the future. We made the change ourselves; we didn’t wait for the administration to make the change.”

A fund for sustainability

Under this fee, students on campus would be charged a $4 fee each semester they are enrolled. According to the resolution, the fee is aligned with the UH system’s newly-adopted sustainability policy as well as the campus’s strategic plan.

In order to garner ASUH’s approval, a group of students circulated two surveys and a petition around campus to receive student input on the fund. The surveys received more than 300 responses, according to the results.

A majority of survey participants ranked their satisfaction with campus sustainability efforts between one and three. According to the results, participants listed solar energy and waste management as the top initiatives they would support funding for.

In addition, 25 percent of participants supported a $5 sustainability fee, while 28 percent supported a $10 fee and another 28 percent supported a $20 fee. Twenty-two percent of participants said they support a $50 fee.

According to junior Kristen Jamieson, who is also a member of Sustainable UH and helped to circulate the surveys and petition, many students she talked to while tabling for the fee said $4 was not enough.

“There was such a student voice for sustainability,” she said in her testimony to ASUH. “I think this is something the students really support and something that the school needs. The school has stated in its policy that sustainability is important to the entire system.”

When she first came to the campus, she was surprised at the lack of sustainability clubs, initiatives and infrastructure on the campus.

“I mean lack of recycling, lack of composting, lack of just general awareness in the student population. I was just really disappointed by that,” she said. “But as I’ve gotten more involved, I’ve decided that it’s really the students’ responsibility to make the school as sustainable as they want it.”

The importance of sustainability

“Hawaiʻi is the most fuel-dependent and fossil fuel-dependent state in the country. We’re in serious need of change for sustainable efforts,” said senior Anthony Primer in his testimony to ASUH.

Primer added that anthropogenic climate change is the biggest challenge of our lifetimes.

Junior Ian Anderson echoed that the world is in need of sustainable solutions, and so is UH.

“I advocate this (student sustainability fund) because if we don’t make sustainability our top priority in our society, in our institutions, and individually, the luxuries of abundant resources and natural beauty we enjoy today will be gone by the times our kids grow up, the time most of us here are middle-aged,” he said.