"Cover-up" on University of Hawaii campus at Manoa
The battle lines have been drawn at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Then they were painted over.
A mural expected to promote art, instead inspired a protest after a cover-up was discovered on campus.
Walls of art went up this weekend on the Manoa campus. Murals were created on temporary construction barriers for the upcoming Ka Leo Arts Festival. Along with showing the beauty of the islands, one mural also came with a message.
"We painted a mural that showed the most beautiful, most sacred space: Mauna a Wakea," said University of Hawaii doctoral student Haley Kailiehu.
Before they were done, the artists were told to take part of it down. Because they painted more than just a mural.
"We also wrote our stance which says, 'UH cannot be a place of learning while participating in the desecration of Mauna a Wakea,'" said Kailiehu.
After refusing to remove the text, students discovered Monday morning their words had been painted over.
"I felt like an act of vandalism had occurred," said Kailiehu.
A source at UH told KITV the mural's design had been approved, but in it there was no mention of the group's stance against the university's telescope development on Mauna Kea. The source said the murals were supposed to be promoting art, not protest platforms.
"Art provides that space where people can talk about issues and bring them to the forefront," said Kailiehu.
Students are now talking about not only development on Mauna Kea, but also free speech on campus.
"I'm really questioning what the university culture is here. Is it one that encourages dialogue over controversial issues, even some that may even have to do with the university?" asked Ilima Long, a UH student.
"I'm a huge advocate for free speech, and I feel silencing students in anyway is not good," added UH student Samantha Juntilla.
The university source told KITV the school has other venues for free speech, just not the murals.
Some students agreed it may be OK for the school to censor, if students weren't following the rules.
"It's the university's property, so I think they have the right to do that. Unless it is designated for students and the school says it is for that purpose," stated UH graduate student Mike Espiritu.
Both sides agree the cover up on campus will probably draw even more attention to the issue of development on Mauna Kea.
Students said they are organizing a protest for Tuesday morning, where they will come armed with sidewalk chalk so they can write their message all around campus.
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