Two months after the announcement that $200,000 had been lost in the Stevie Wonder concert debacle, the Associated Students of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa has yet to take an official stance on the issue.
“I didn’t want to take a stance on it [the Stevie Wonder concert] just yet ... because of the fact that we didn’t have enough ... evidence or facts on what really happened,” said ASUH President Richard Mizusawa.
At a news conference on July 10, then-athletics director Jim Donovan announced that Wonder would not be performing in a department fundraising concert. Donovan and Stan Sheriff Center arena manager Rich Sheriff were put on indefinite paid administrative leave.
Since then, Donovan has been given a position in the Office of the Chancellor with an annual salary of $211,200, while Sheriff has been reinstated to his position.
A 57-page investigative report regarding the concert was released in the late afternoon on Aug. 22. As of Sept. 14, Mizusawa said that he had not fully read the report, but had forwarded it to ASUH senators to look over.
“I sent it out to our senate, so we’re going to try to have a decision on that matter. And we definitely do want to take a stance on it ... [but] we would rather have all the facts laid out first and then take a stance, rather than have an immediate initial reaction to it,” he explained.
Mizusawa said that he contacted the athletics department inquiring about whether or not the $200,000 payment had come out of student athletic fees, but has not received a response.
“So I think if [the $200,000 had been taken from student fees], that would be a huge issue for students because that’s $200,000 of their monies that were lost and could’ve gone towards other things related to athletics or anything that would benefit them in that department,” he said.
ASUH was chartered by the Board of Regents in 1912. The organization is responsible for advocating on the students’ behalf with administration, faculty, staff, community groups and government officials, as well as using student fee money to put on events on campus.
“I believe we’re growing in that. We have a really young senate and one of the things I really want to have a big focus on is advocacy,” Mizusawa said. “... We’re very strong with our campus events, we’re really strong with our scholarships and funding to organizations, but [advocating on students’ behalf is] another focus that this year I want to take a more transparent approach on.”
Mizusawa said he would like to have students come up with resolutions to current issues and extend a web of communication through social media, email and word of mouth.
Mizusawa said that only a few students have contacted him so far about the issue. He has, however, discussed the lack of response from administration with KHON2.
“Just a few [students] here and there [have] expressed their concerns, and we’re definitely taking a lot of the different viewpoints into consideration,” he said.
Mizusawa is the sole student member on the Search Advisory Committee for the new athletic director, but was unable to comment on the process due to a confidentiality agreement signed by all members.