About 50 student protesters have been occupying the president's office at the University of Hawaii since Thursday, demanding that the interim president call off plans for a new research center affiliated with the Navy.
The protesters (whose activities are visible on a Web cam) object to the center because some of the research that would take place there would be classified. University officials, after first saying that the protesters could stay, have now threatened to have them arrested, possibly as early as today, if they do not leave.
The proposed research center on the university's Manoa campus could generate up to $50 million in grants for the university. Statements released by protesters say that conducting classified research would contradict the university's mission of promoting "the open exchange of ideas." Protesters also object to helping the military. If the center goes forward, the students' statement says, "the university would be promoting the military supremacy of the U.S. over all humanity, in direct contradiction to the core values of the institution."
The university has released information that portrays a very different picture of the proposed research center, saying that its areas of study would be much broader than those suggested by the protesters, and that classified projects would only make up a small share of the total.
David McClain, Hawaii's interim president, had offered to meet individually with protesters on Saturday, but was rebuffed by protest leaders who have continued to demand that he pledge to kill the proposed research deal. In a statement after he was turned away, McClain said that he had been "hoping to learn about each person's particular concerns, address specific questions they may have and perhaps clarify any misunderstandings."
McClain has been working out of other facilities since the sit-in started.
With final exams fast approaching at Hawaii, the protesters have created study areas within the president's office, so that students can combine academics and activism.