Doug Simons, executive director of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope already on Mauna Kea, is concerned that abandoning the project could prevent other Big Island students like Kaluna from educational opportunities in science.
Thirty Meter Telescope officials launched the Hawaii Island New Knowledge Fund
for STEM education, a fund that will contribute $1 million annually for the 19-year Mauna Kea sublease with the University of Hawaii
"We don't have that kind of philanthropy flowing into the school community," Simons
"That would be a huge loss."
Having lived on the Big Island for 30 years, Simons
sympathizes with protesters' cultural concerns.
"TMT and Mauna Kea have served as something of a focal point in a range of longstanding concerns within the Hawaiian community," he
said, adding that he
knows protesters are not against science, or the telescope itself.
"It happened to be a telescope," that protesters banded together to oppose, he
"It could have been something else somewhere else in the islands."
Despite their disagreements about Mauna Kea, Simons
has had a good relationship with the protesters who maintained constant vigil on the mountain to prevent construction from resuming.
"I've always been treated with respect and I've never felt threatened," he