HONOLULU — The University of California system has invested more than $68 million in the Thirty Meter Telescope project in Hawaii, a report said.
The contributions were divided between the university’s private funds and grants received from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday.
The university is one of the partners seeking to build the giant telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s tallest mountain.
Students with the #UCDivestTMT campaign used California public-records law to obtain the report showing the university system’s financial contributions to the project over the last six years up to April 30.
The student group wants the university to divest from the project, arguing it is unethical for the university to support it.
The proposed $2.4 billion telescope has been on hold for five years, the victim of regulatory hurdles and a prolonged protest.
Demonstrators blocked an access road in a months-long protest against the project. Telescope opponents have said the project will desecrate land considered sacred by some Native Hawaiians.
The University of California’s support “will enable a new frontier of discoveries about the contents, nature and evolution of the universe including the search for life on other planets,” Stett Holbrook, a spokesman for university President Janet Napolitano, said in an interview with The Daily Californian, the student newspaper of the University of California, Berkeley.
In addition to the University of California, the project partners include The California Institute of Technology and science agencies in India, China, Canada and Japan.
The state of Hawaii plans to launch an independent review of the University of Hawaii’s oversight of Mauna Kea.
The review is expected to focus on the university’s compliance with the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan, which was approved by the Board of Land and Natural Resources in 2009.