Over the past few months during multiple meetings, we’ve been told one thing or another by KapCC staff, faculty, and administration. It was all based around one idea: the Kapi‘o shutting down.

In Feb. our advisor, Mitchell Dwyer, informed us that his new supervisor, Dennis Kawaharada, decided that he had a new direction for the Kapi‘o. Kawaharada’s plan was for Kapi‘o to cease to exist as we know it. Kawaharada met with us on March 4 to further elaborate on his new plan.

Kawaharada informed us that the Kapi‘o news was going to turn into a student life website to publish outstanding student work. All the content was going to be generated from students in classes such as English or Journalism. He and the professors would be determining what was considered exceptional and would then publish those pieces.

If students wanted something published that wasn’t produced in classrooms, Kawaharada would determine if it was newsworthy then publish it, giving the student a gift card for their submission.

This meant that the Kapi‘o would no longer be a student-run student publication. Students on this campus would no longer have their own voice because they would be told what to write and how to do it.

The current staff was also informed that they would be laid off because there was no longer any use for them. Kawaharada said that he might keep one of us because someone needed to upload the content to the website, but we were no longer needed to create content for publications since it would all be generated from classrooms.

We were upset with this new direction, but since Kawaharada was our new supervisor, we felt that his word was final. At no point in his decision making process did he ask us or any other student for our input.

Thinking this decision was final, we updated our facebook account :
“With heavy hearts, we are sad to announce that the Kapi‘o News has met its end.

“On May 16 this student run campus publication will be departing Kapi‘olani Community College forever. This decision was made by the school administration who wanted to move Kapi‘o in a new direction.

“In the future, the Kapi‘o is turning into a place to post outstanding student work, and other events as deemed important by the school. This way a writing/editing staff is no longer needed. All decisions are going to be made by KapCC faculty and staff – therefore we will no longer be a student publication.

“We are currently putting together a farewell issue to be distributed the week of April 28. We would like to share the thoughts of our readers and Kapi‘o alumni about the matter in it. If you are interested in being quoted, please respond to this post.

“Thank you all for being wonderful readers of the Kapi‘o News.”

After that simple status update was posted, the community responded with outrage. The media also became interested in our issue. Various media sources contacted the administration to find out their side of the story.

Dennis asked to meet with Chayne Toyama, Kapi‘o’s current editor-in-chief, to discuss his plans again because he felt that we didn’t understand what he was intending to do.

That meeting was held on April 14 and Dennis talked about his new plan. He revised his original plan by stating that he wanted to temporarily shut down the Kapi‘o and implement Journalism classes in the fall 2014 semester to correlate with content. Once students in those special Journalism classes were deemed proficient enough, he would then hire them to reopen the Kapi‘o. Once they were hired, he would ultimately be their boss and still determine what was going to be posted. In a normal newsroom, that is the editor-in-chief’s job. This still meant that the Kapi‘o would no longer be student run.

At this point KapCC Chancellor Leon Richards got involved. The Kapi‘o had a meeting on April 29 with him, Mona Lee, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Tyla Smith, editor-in-chief for LCC’s Ka Mana‘o, and Stan Au, husband to Wini Au, who is a former Kapi‘o advisor.

“Let me start off the bat by at least emphatically stating that Kapi‘o will continue as a newspaper,” Richards said. “It is not being stomped out.”

Richards explained that the newspaper represents the school and it should represent it excellently. To get to that place, courses would be offered that would help students learn how write for publications.

Richards also stated that Kawaharada was not the Kapi‘o’s supervisor. He was supposed to be responsible for the direction of student publications. Since Kawaharada was not the Kapi‘o supervisor, Richards said that we should not have listened to Kawaharada and should have spoken directly to Richards when the issue of the Kapi‘o closure was brought up.

The biggest point from that meeting was that at the end of the semester, the Kapi‘o staff would be laid off. In the mean time a Board of Student Publications (BoSP) was to be established because only the board can determine if and how the Kapi‘o will continue to run.

The campus hasn’t had a BoSP since 2011. This was due to students not being interested in being on the board, not due to the Kapi‘o advisor failing to recruit a board.

When the Kapi‘o asked Richards what would happen if the BoSP wasn’t established, he failed to answer and simply stated that there will be a board.

Moving forward, all the Kapi‘o needs to survive is four students, and three faculty or staff members to create the BoSP. The fate of the Kapi‘o and student voices are in the hands of the campus now. If you know any student interested in serving on the BoSP, please contact Mitchell Dwyer at mkdwyer@hawaii.edu.