Trying To Make UH ‘Rape-free’

Larry Price
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Wednesday - September 28, 2005
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It’s interesting to observe the University of Hawaii-Manoa in action. Its activists seem to over-react to selected issues.

If the school attempts to negotiate a lucrative contract with the U.S. Navy, the anti-military activists storm the president’s office and demand he honor their wishes. The nice thing about UH president David McClain is he always seems to honor every activist group’s requests.

The latest demands on the UH president are a bit more serious. There was another rally of students, teachers and administrators concerned about safety at the university after two recent rapes in the vicinity of the Manoa campus.

The rally, complete with cheerleaders, was sponsored by women’s groups including the university’s Women Studies Program and the Women’s Center, the Hawaii Radical Cheerleaders, Girl Fest Hawaii, the Rebel Girl Underground and Sisters in Sound. To put it mildly, it was not a rally to be missed, dodged or ignored.

A list of recommendations issued by the rally organizers asked for some heavy-duty security measures, which included more security officers and the declaration of the campus as a ” rape-free” zone. Organizers said this would send a strong message that the crime is not tolerated on campus, and the university would take measures to prevent it.

Once again, happily, McClain spoke at the event and assured all in attendance the campus already has many of the recommendations in place, and he has already asked the Legislature for an additional $1 million to increase security at all 10 campuses in the university system.

There is no question that the University of Hawaii campuses should be “rape-free” zones. In point of fact, so should Waikiki, McCully, Hawaii Kai, Kalihi and Kahala and every other place residents live, play and work. It’s the ideal situation - no crime anywhere.

I’m not sure how up-to-date McClain is on security - he’s a math major from M.I.T. and that’s a long way from the street.

Simply put, $1 million won’t make the UH campuses “rape-free” zones, or “crime-free” zones either.

There are two things about security that need to be understood. First, it is non-revenue generating. Second, the University of Hawaii-Manoa in particular is almost undefendable in its present state, and it can’t hire enough security officers to make it a “rape-free” zone. To say it can is certain to make a promise you can’t keep.

To take resources away from the university for security is like taking away money from the science and math departments so they could appoint a task force to find a better logo for the athletic department. One of the first steps to making the UH-Manoa campus more secure without making it look and feel like Stalag No. 17, complete with hundred of signs warning the students to beware of impending attack by rapists and criminals, is relatively simple.

If they want to copy other big campuses, they would find out really quickly that the administration must control the traffic of all vehicles and visitors on campus. The way to do this is create a campus that has no traffic. All vehicles, including the president’s, would not be allowed on campus. The campus would take on the appearance of a seminary. The ambiance of the campus would take on the feel of a botanical garden with warm and fuzzy buildings, and be alcohol-free.

Right now, anyone interested in conducting criminal activity on the UH-Manoa campus can gain access by driving through the campus looking for action. Maile Way, Dole Street, University Avenue, East West Road, Lower Campus Road and many more around Varney Circle and Hemenway Hall. Under the circumstances, it would take an army of security officer officers to patrol the campus.

The administrators at the UH-Hawaii might as well accept the fact: If they are going to have students on campus from early in the morning until late at night, more security officers is not the solution. Electronic surveillance is not the answer, either. They are going to have to admit they need expert help from the outside and realize it’s going to cost at least as much as the Hilton and Sheraton hotels spend to keep their guests safe.

And that’s when they are on the property, not when they decide to stroll down Kalakaua after midnight or go sightseeing at the Blowhole.

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