On December 8, 2015 UHHSA Senator Amber Shouse was reappointed to her position of Senator at Large by Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Gail Makuakane-Lundin. Makuakane-Lundin is being replaced. Makuakane-Lundin declined to comment.
Shouse said, “I am thankful the wrong has been righted. I hope UH Hilo can further bring justice to this situation. I am looking forward to serving the student body as I was elected to do.”
Shouse had been unjustifiably removed from UHHSA on October 2, 2015, and then again on October 5 by a cabal led by UHHSA President Lazareth Sye and Treasurer Melinda Alles. Campus Center Director Ellen Kusano was present during the meeting and did not discourage the unjust removal.
Kusano sent an email to Sye on 9/28/15 mentioning Shouse in a derogatory manner 4 days before the removal saying, “Amber persists in believing that I’ll be the puppetmaster of the advisor just as she believes I’m UHHSA’s puppetmaster. She needs to realize that whoever is feeding her this garbage needs to be ignored. … I hope she hears what Aunty Gail is really saying rather than what she wants to think Aunty Gail is saying.” Kusano has declined to comment. Shouse has filed complaints with UH Hilo.
Vice President Abraham Jose, former UHHSA Data Director Kawehi Kanoho-Kalahiki, COBE Senator Alison Pham, Senator David Khan, Senator Jessica Penaranda, Senator Nick Nguyen, Daniel Woods along with Sye and Alles were responsible for Shouse’s unjustified removal. Only Senator Pham chose to comment. She said, “I would like extend my sincerest apologies to Ms. Shouse for how she was removed. I hope we can improve UHHSA to provide a better, more fair, and more transparent student government for UH Hilo.”
UHHSA Adviser Shara Mahoe sent an email responding to Shouse’s 10/27/15 appeal saying, “The preponderance of the evidence collected supports your allegation that you [Shouse] did not overstep your boundaries as an UHFISA Senator by communicating directly…with Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Gail Makuakane-Lundin and Dean of Students, Kelly Oaks.”
Shara Mahoe stepped down as UHHSA Adviser on 11/5/15. At the 10/8/15 UHHSA meeting Mahoe had requested funding from UHHSA to supplement her income possibly in violation of state law.
President Sye and the rest of UHHSA have yet to issue a formal apology to Shouse for the unjust removal.
UHHSA Senator Briki Cajandig said, “Amber’s reinstatement was a fair and ethical decision. She has always deserved her spot on the Senate and represents students to the best of her ability with integrity. I’m so glad we have the chance to work together once again.”
Dean Kelly Oaks was also present at the 10/5/15 UHHSA meeting, the 2nd meeting Shouse was unjustifiably removed. She declined to comment regarding the reappointment.
Former UHHSA senator and UHSUnews reporter Jennifer Ruggles said, “Our student government receives $170,000 in student fees every year and unsettling events like this discourage student participation. It’s alarming how the student affairs administrators who oversaw Shouse’s removal, like Director Kusano, continue to allow such undemocratic behavior at a place of higher learning.”
UH Hilo has not commented.
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