Chair Chang, Vice Chair Nakashima, and members,
The League of Women Voters opposes HB 1501 which would require the University of Hawaii Board of Regents to auction naming rights to buildings on the West Oahu campus. While it is well intended – that is, to generate income for the UH-West Oahu special fund for electric generation from renewable energy resources – it is wrong-headed to “sell off” building naming rights to the highest bidder. Such crass commercialization also sets a bad precedent, especially in the field of education.
Buildings on university campuses have long been named to honor intellectual contributions, or because financial contributions were given to further a field of study or for similar purposes. It is a fitting way to recognize such contributions.
However, the auctioning of naming rights smacks of professional sports stadiums or arenas. While it may be suitable for those venues, requiring that approach would certainly seem to sully the image and lower the value we place on our highest educational institution. Frankly, it is offensive to effect a bidding war for naming rights.
We strongly urge you to hold HB 1501. Thank you for this opportunity to testify.