Students protesting Hawaii telescope can study remotely

FILE - In this July 19, 2019, file photo, protesters continue their opposition vigil against the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope at Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii. Astronomers across 11 observatories on Hawaii’s tallest mountain have cancelled more than 2,000 hours of telescope viewing over the past four weeks because a protest blocked a road to the summit. Astronomers said Friday, Aug. 9, they will attempt to resume observations but in some cases won’t be able to make up the missed research. (Bruce Asato/Honolulu Star-Advertiser via AP, File)

University of Hawaii students protesting the construction of a $1.4 billion telescope are expected to have class options allowing them to remain on the mountain, a report said.

The plan to start construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island has been thwarted for more than three weeks by a group of Native Hawaiian activists who say the construction will further desecrate a mountain that already has more than a dozen observatories.

A list of more than 200 courses students can take either online or via distance learning has become available, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Monday.

The majority of the remote classes for student demonstrators are offered through UH-Manoa, while others are offered by the UH-Hilo and Hawaii Community College.

Course topics include Hawaiian religion, mythology, culture and language, Pacific Island literature, business, creative writing, and philosophy.

Nontraditional classroom environments, like distance learning, online classes and research field work, are common across UH campuses, said spokesman Dan Meisenzahl.

Justina Mattos, an assistant professor of performing arts at UH-Hilo, is one of the educators offering a remote course. Teachers can create independent study courses during the university add/drop period, while students can also earn credit for doing independent projects, Mattos said.

“While I will continue to not really speak out to one side or the other, I do feel a personal responsibility to help enable any of the protectors who are in college to be able to continue doing what they feel they need to do without impacting their college education,” Mattos said.q