Photographs by Elizabeth Lough
Vester “Boomer” Robester, UHHSA President: So this year we’re really excited. Not only are we looking for student voices, but we’re really trying to move into the next level and get students involved in UHHSA. We only have five positions available, but we also have a lot of volunteer options, and a lot of voices needed on committees. Every single senator is responsible for a committee, if not two committees that they’re responsible for overseeing. And student voices on those committees are also welcome too.
So far we did some training and it looks like we’ll probably do more training on top of that. We’re also in the middle of re-doing our governing documents. There’s a lot of gray areas that are not covered yet, so we want to make sure those areas are covered. That’s also tying in with the training.
Also, elections are open. Anyone who’s interested in joining UHHSA, we still have three vacant senator-at-large seats that anyone can apply for, as well as CAS (College of Arts and Sciences) senator, which students from CAS can apply for, and one Ka Haka
Ula senator, where students from Ka HakaUla (Hawaiian Language) college can apply for as well.
Once again, our office is always open, office hours are posted at the door. One of our major goals this year is good communication with students, and finding what student opinion is, what the students’ needs are.
Maile Lavea, Legislature Committee Chair: Basically what it is is we formulate a committee, which will also be having legislative training in October. We are in charge of following and reviewing any kind of bills that may be pertinent to our campus here at UH Hilo. We also engage with students on any kind of initiative that they would like to see pushed at the state level. We have very good dialogue with our senator, who is Kai Kahele.
Senator Kai Kahele has visited the campus quite often. He too has his own initiatives, as he sits on the Higher Education Committee for the state. He likes to come to campus and create dialogue with the students and the faculty. So he will be visiting in October with our campus, as well as HawCC, as well as Palamanui, and kind of gauging what the needs of the students are at that level.
Also I also wanted to promote the fact that we have the Hilo Ambassador application that is available to students. This is a program where students can apply for travel stipends which would benefit towards any kind of conferences that they may be attending on behalf of UH Hilo. We do have requirements that are all listed within this application that should be available as soon as possible on our website.
Our RISO application is also in progress. The guidelines for that are that they be pre-approved by Maile Boggeln, who in turn will send out to the CSO’s who is approved, as an actual RISO, that can then apply for the funding. What we’re looking to do this year is grant RISO’s seed funding.
Victoria Taomia, UHHSA Vice President and Commencement Committee Chair: Things went well last year, and we’re going to try to replicate it this year. Because UHHSA is about initiatives, right? We pick up initiatives, we try to fund them for the first couple years, and hope that the institution picks them up. So at any given time we’re running initiatives through the CSO’s. And so the commencement initiative last year was the kihei initiative. Our goal was to kind of re-indingenize the academic system in our institution, and hopefully in the UH system.
And our way of contributing to the re-indigenization of the system was to create commencement kiheis. And so if you were an undergraduate student last semester you got a kihei at commencement. And basically, our main focus was to bring culture back, and to reintroduce culture. Because that’s part of going to school in Hawai`i. You’re coming to a place that has its own culture, that’s unique from anywhere else in the United States, from anywhere else in the world. And it’s very easy to forget that when you come here, because everything is stone buildings, it’s very - the culture itself is absent. The kiheis were a way to invite others to learn more, to publicize the culture. To be like, “We want to talk about it, we want to have a conversation.” We had open forums about it, the commencement committee, we were talking about it to everybody, anybody who would listen for the whole year.
Last semester we were just kind of getting it going, we didn’t really know what we were doing. We were making it up as we went a long, it was really difficult. We were learning about the kihei protocol and the Hawaiian culture, and then trying to find ways to present that to the student body in ways that they would be able to receive it.
And so this year we are full steam ahead. We know what we’re doing, we know how to do it. We know what works, we know what doesn’t work. Open forums are really popular, we’re going to have more open forums for the kiheis, where people can come and learn about the kihei, and learn about how it relates to the Hawaiian culture , and learn about why it’s important to have it in our institution. And kind of just reiterate why we’re doing this, and why you should care. Because you should care about the culture of the people who were here, who are here.