We would like to begin by thanking the Graduate Fayetteville and the Park Shore Waikiki for working with us throughout this process. We are a novel company, and very little of what we’re doing has precedent in the hospitality industry, so we commend them for their flexibility. Despite its novelty, we believe that what The U Experience is introducing is also inevitable. We aren’t going anywhere. The pandemic has devastated the tourism industry and all of the people whose employment depends on it. It has also exposed massive fault lines in the current system of higher education. We are here to solve both of these problems. However, we have to approach that wisely. We may only have one shot at this, and we need to be absolutely confident that we are going about everything the right way, down to the finest detail.
We would like to inform all who have been following this story that we will no longer be moving forward with either of these properties. While we were very excited to work with these incredible hotels, we will be postponing the start date of our program until we are confident that our mission has been communicated transparently to all relevant stakeholders. We believe this is possible through the continued communication of not only our safety procedures but also our long-term vision, which we hope will be embraced by the public once we have demonstrated our commitment to safety. Our goal is to disrupt education, not local communities.
Our applicants have overwhelmingly indicated their interest in taking The U Experience to Hawaii, and we will do everything in our power to create a system that makes that possible. However, what we are doing is much bigger than any one location, and we’re aware that we will be constantly adapting to a changing landscape. We remain open to drawing from the hundreds of properties across the country that invite our support to find one that provides our students with something incredible and exciting.
We are a business, and we do not make brash decisions without deliberation. This announcement comes only after much due diligence and thoughtful consideration of the matter at hand. We have heard you. While no law prevents us from doing so, we do not intend to move forward and ignore critical voices. Nor do we intend to abandon Hawaii and those that support and have welcomed this venture. Neither of these two options would represent our brand and what it stands for. We are members of the communities we represent and believe in taking all necessary steps to create something that benefits everyone involved.
In the coming weeks, we will be devoting more time to work even more closely with prospective communities to ensure that our health and safety practices are accepted and understood. We have intended from the outset to adhere to all relevant rules and procedures set by local, state, and CDC officials, which are already required of all non-essential travelers. Our Handbook is designed to represent the ways in which our program goes above and beyond that which is typically required of any tourist. We are not an exception to state and local laws, rather an exceptional alternative to tourism that emphasizes safety while still bringing much needed resources to the local economy.
We’ve been working extensively with our candidate hotels to iron out our logistics, understand the local business environment, and ensure that they adhere to our robust system of health and safety requirements. We will be taking more time to communicate what we are before we launch, so that we are understood and well-received when we do. Going forward, there are a few things we must address:
- We received many harsh comments that threatened to endanger the well-being of our students, and we will take the time to investigate every such instance to assess its credibility, working with authorities where necessary.
- We are going to refine and extend our Handbook’s safety protocols to more clearly communicate how exactly we intend to keep our students and communities safe.
- We will continue to engage with local communities to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to make local voices heard. We have received much in the way of welcoming from local businesses, and we will make certain that their voices are not drowned out either.
We encourage you to continue reading our website to carefully understand exactly what we are aligning ourselves with, who we are championing, and the institutions and corporate interests we are taking on. The young people of our generation have been saddled with crippling student debt and increasingly severe social pressures that are damaging to mental health. The U Experience represents the only real solution being posed to solve these problems. We are building something better. This is not an opportunistic venture in response to the pandemic; it is a much-needed paradigm shift in higher education, and we need your support to make it happen.
The U Experience is not your typical company. It is a Gen Z company. It is the first of its kind, and we expect that there will be obstacles. We look forward to showcasing what our generation can build to make the world a better place.