Numerous scholarly studies and personal experiences of faculty and students demonstrate that the inability or failure of certain students to succeed in school cannot be appropriately and justifiably explained solely by students’ lack of intelligence or drive to do well. Rather, it is the schools that have continued to devalue, set aside, or even completely ignored the needs and interests of students that would have allowed them to succeed in the first place. Many unfairly expect students to do well in an environment that is set up to make themnot do well. PIPE recognizes this unwarranted finger-pointing at students by taking proactive steps to directly provide a set of tools to assist in the retention and eventual graduation of P.I. students. But what sets PIPE as a unique project in this regard is that the tools that it uses spring from the practice of traditional cultural values that are directly applied to mentorship and integrated with schooling. PIPE is a place in school where native culture is valued rather than subtracted, where culture is a source of empowerment rather than merely a site of extracurricular activity.
Pacific Islander American students at U.W. consist of: Chamorus (natives of Guam), Chukese, Filipinos, native Hawaiians, Palauans, Pohnpeians, Samoans, and Tongans. It is important to know that these are not the only groups that comprise Pacific Islander Americans. Other Pacific Islanders include: Melanesians who are natives from Fiji, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and the Marshall Islands; Micronesians, who are natives from Guam, Saipan, Pohnpei, Micronesia, Yap, Chuuk, and Palau; as well as Polynesians who are natives from Hawaii, Tahiti, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Samoa, and Tonga. PIPE reaches out to Pacific Islanders in particular who number about 1,000 on campus, but in our study table and mentorship sessions, we also attract different students from other groups, making our project highly diversified. Black and Chicano students have also expressed a strong interest in following PIPE’s model after hearing about its success or participating in its activities. PIPE has become an inspiration for other minority groups on campus.