(BIVN) – A University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo student went before the Mauna Kea Management Board on Friday, and tearfully asked for help as she struggles with historical trauma as a Native Hawaiian.
Grace Bezilla told the board that the Office of Mauna Kea Management “is a part of UH. It’s involved in creating all the trauma that’s happening on the mountain, and has been happening on the mountain. Its the big elephant in the room. I’m a student at UH. There’s nothing that’s currently in place for me – a student of my age – experiencing historical trauma. And so it’s failing me.”
“I don’t know if you guys know but UH students are going through unnecessary trauma,” Bezilla said, “and nothing is available.”
The University of Hawaiʻi has had its hands full, especially in recent months, dealing with various internal conflicts related to the Thirty Meter Telescope project planned for Mauna Kea. The university supports the $1.4 billion observatory, but opposition to the project has divided students and faculty. Complaints of racism in connection with the overall debate have been made, as well.
“Will it take me, a UH student, dying, to be heard?” Bezilla asked the board. “I really ask everyone in this room to hear this, because – yes, you’re making motions on things that affect something on a mountain, but you’re also part of a university that’s first and foremost thing is for students, and what’s gonna happen when students start dying? Do you want that on your conscience?”
“Find somebody on this planet that is trained in historical trauma,” she added. “A talk is not gonna cut it…. Someone that understands historical trauma that doesn’t necessarily have to do with substance abuse. Someone that understands intergenerational trauma.”
“It’s not alcoholism or substance abuse that’s gonna kill them it’s gonna be UH’s management on Mauna Kea,” Bezilla testified.
“Whatever kind of rules you guys decide, whichever which way you guys decide to go, I’m promising you,” said another testifier who offered a word of support for Bezilla. “TMT will not be built on Mauna Kea. I swear to you, it will not.”