2013 - 2014, Arts & Community
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UHHSA’S Sustainability Committee

UHHSA Senators Illuminate Bright Goals of Sustainability

By Krista Aoki, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

Image by Nainoa Kalaukoa.

Image by Nainoa Kalaukoa.

 What does UHHSA, UH Hilo’s governing student association, do?

 The UHHSA website says UHHSA aims to “represent the views of the entire student body…act(ing) as a liaison between the student body and the college administration through active collaboration.”

 When asked this question, UHHSA Senator-at-Large Jonathan Wong listed some of UHHSA’s responsibilities: “advocating for students, improving student life, and providing services.” He went into further detail, “As a part of UHHSA, I am a liaison between the students and faculty.”  Senator Wong also indicated his hopes to provide “greater outreach (to) increase the voice of the students.”  To do this, he said that this year, UHHSA planned to implement online polls to get student feedback “for issues around campus.”  While no specific date could be determined for the broadcast of these polls, Senator Wong said it was “estimated to be within a month.”

 UHHSA representatives serve on various committees in addition to their roles of liaisons.  Senator Wong, along with CAFNRM Senator Yuri Zhuraw, are Senators on UHHSA’s Sustainability Committee.

 Senator Wong explained the role of UHHSA’s Sustainability Committee.  “The idea of sustainability is part of UHHSA’s Constitution.  So, the Sustainability Committee is taking on that challenge.”  Senator Wong mentioned one of the ways UHHSA would achieve their goals would be to work closer with faculty, such as the university’s Sustainability Committee coordinated by Dr. Cam Muir, Sustainability Coordinator and Associate Professor of Biology.

 “We’re going to combine the committees,” Senator Wong explained, conveying his hopes of “attracting students and faculty who are interested (to mold) a cohesive project.”

 One of the Sustainability’s goals includes performing a Compost Feasibility Survey of materials around campus.  “Every possible scrap (of trash),” Senator Zhuraw emphasized, could be used to produce “really high quality vermicompost.”  Vermicompost, as explained by vermicompost.net, is a process of composting that uses worms to produce a rich, natural fertilizer.  Senator Zhuraw added that composting waste would save money on transporting rubbish off-campus, and on fertilizer.

 “We can use some of that money to pay students to learn about the (composting) process,” Senator Zhuraw said, suggesting paid positions could be created from potential savings.

 Additionally, UHHSA and the university’s Sustainability Committees plan to implement a Waste Diversion initiative in the Campus Center Dining Hall.  This Waste Diversion initiative would “reduce waste in (the Dining Hall) by separating waste (and sorting waste) into compost,” Senator Wong explained, indicating that the Sustainability Committees of both UHHSA and the university planned to come together to hire “one student and one non-student to supervise volunteers who want to help” work in the Dining Hall.  Senator Wong indicated the money would cover “hiring and (other) costs associated with running the Waste Reduction project.”

 “Students can help each other out,” Senator Zhuraw explained.  “If we can get students to sit there for one or two semesters, perhaps after that time, students can help each other (learn about the waste management process).”  Students would be there to indicate which bins food waste could go, as well as paper products and recyclable and non-recyclable plastic.  Senator Zhuraw said that before they could hire the workers, they were in the process of “putting together a job description.”  He added, “I would really hope to get it together by the end of October.”

 Senator Zhuraw also expressed his hopes of seeing “more student participation.”  How?  “The easiest way (students) can get involved is turning off the lights (to save electricity), closing the door (to prevent air-conditioning from leaking outside), using less paper towels (to save paper), and recycling.  Every little bit makes a difference” towards the goal of sustainability.

 To find out further information about UHHSA, or UHHSA’s Sustainability Committee, contact UHHSA at uhhsa@hawaii.edu.

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