Letter, nonprofits decry Cal Poly Humboldt event in Hawaii – Times-Standard

Cal Poly Humboldt recently invited alumni to travel to Maui, Hawaii October 12-15 for a celebratory “Homecoming to Hawaii” event with days of snorkeling, happy hour and barbecues.

However, two alumni penned an open letter urging the university to reconsider its location choice, citing several social and economic concerns Hawaii is currently facing, including the pandemic. As of Friday, the letter had 230 signatures from alumni and current students.

“It started with the alumni event and the fact that this event doesn’t align with Humboldt’s stated promise and purpose and vision and core values ​​and beliefs,” said Colleen Chalmers, a 2013 graduate with a degree in journalism who helped draft it of the letter contributed.

“(The University) says they honor traditional ways of knowledge, but this is a traditional way of knowledge, the native Hawaiians are telling them not to go to Hawaii now, and they made that decision anyway, and they’re enforcing those actions.” still through,” Chalmers added.

Chalmers co-authored the letter with Sabina Gallier, a 2014 graduate major in broadcast journalism.

The university had not responded to multiple Times Standard requests for comment as of press time.

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Chalmers said the letter is not about discouraging individual tourism, but about the university using its considerable resources to facilitate more tourism to Hawaii against the wishes of local people, particularly local Hawaiians, also known as kānaka maoli . But Micky Huihui, executive director of the nonprofit Hawaiʻi People’s Fund, said all tourism is currently harmful to Hawaiians.

“Our strong stance right now is that there is no ethical way to travel to Hawaii right now, there isn’t,” Huihui said. “It’s insanely expensive over here because of the tourism industry and the military in Hawaii.”

According to worldpopulationreview.com, Hawaii’s cost of living index is the highest in the nation and nearly double the United States average. A 2018 study by the Council for Community and Economic Research found that groceries cost 60% more than the national average.

Huihui added that while tourism and the military are the island nation’s key economic engines, the environmental degradation of several natural habitats, in addition to industry’s drain on resources and raising prices for locals, make tourism unethical. She also cited the pandemic, which continues to put a strain on Hawaii’s medical systems, as a reason not to come.
A spring 2022 study for Hawaii’s State Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism found that most of the 1,955 residents surveyed said they thought tourism was worth the problems it poses. Residents surveyed cited overcrowding, environmental degradation and higher prices as the most pressing issues related to tourism.

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Huihui said she doesn’t trust studies by the Hawaii Department of Tourism as they allow Hawaii to reopen to tourists during periods of high coronavirus transmission, leading to a peak in cases in January.

“These are the guys who didn’t turn off the tourist counter in the middle of the pandemic,” Huihui said. “Every day 30,000 people got off the plane and then our COVID numbers went through the roof.”

On September 19, an average of 10 new cases per day were reported in Hawaii for a seven-day period, compared to the peak in January 2022, when 325 new cases were reported in a seven-day period ending January 14, 2022 11.

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The event also drew the attention of some Indigenous groups in Humboldt County. The Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, an Arcata-based non-profit specializing in Indigenous issues, left a message for the Times Standard expressing concern about the event.

“We stand firmly in support of Native Hawaiian sovereignty and oppose the recruitment and organization surrounding the Hawaii event,” Chris Peters, president of the Seventh Generation Fund, said in a voicemail.

“We are concerned that this is happening without consulting Hawaii’s indigenous people,” he added.

In an email to the Times-Standard, Chalmers said she had been contacted by Stephanie Lane, director of alumni relations, and said they would likely talk about the event over the weekend.

To learn more

You can find the full letter from alumni and students at https://bit.ly/3LLr02L.

For more information about the Hawaiʻi People’s Fund, visit https://www.hawaiipeoplesfund.org/.

The details of the alumni event can be found at https://bit.ly/3LBSJCZ.

Editor’s note: Colleen Chalmers is a former Times-Standard contributor.

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