An interview with Michael Taylor on elections and representation of the students attending UH Hilo.
Staff Writer Breandain Clarke
Photos courtesy of Raiatea Arcuri
With the current positions of the UH Hilo Student Association (UHHSA) coming to an end with their elections for the next academic year, Executive Senator Michael Taylor spoke upon his thoughts on the importance of UHHSA and what it means to the campus and its students.
With the first election focusing on the positions of president, vice president, data director, and the College of Natural and Health Sciences Senator, the second election is for the positions of College of Business and Economics Senator, College of Agriculture Forestry and Natural Resource Management Senator, Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy Senator, as well as two of the four Senator-at-Large.
Along with the new positions being filled in this year’s elections, Senator Taylor was also very excited about the newly elected chancellor coming into to UH Hilo this summer. Bonnie Irwin is coming from CSU Monterey Bay as provost and vice president. Taylor said, “Irwin has great experience, and it shows. UHHSA had the opportunity in the fall semester of this academic year to interview the top candidates for chancellor; and when the selection committee chose her and brought her nomination to the Board of Regents, I had typed up a memo, signed by UHHSA President Victoria Taomia, to be submitted in support of her appointment.” The effort was successful as Irwin will be coming in July of this year.
Iwin has many new ideas for the campus, one of which she would like to bring from her previous campus. It’s an App called Otter Eats, and it sends out notifications to the students who have the app, and it informs them of all of the events that happen on campus and that there is spare food for them to come get.
Senator Taylor said, “I think this can work integrally with the UH Hilo app.” Students in need of some extra food or drinks can get that extra source of energy to help them through their day; it will also benefit the events themselves, as the students will bring up their attendance rates.
For those unaware of UHHSA, or the impact of the association, Senator Taylor said, “The UH Hilo Student Association is of great importance. If you take a look on the UH Hilo website we are considered under campus leadership, alongside the chancellor and vice chancellors. We are the voice for the students.”
“Administration understands that having an avenue for students to speak to them, as well as having an entity that actively listens to what students have to say about what the various issues that pop up on campus are, is why student governments and councils are important on any school campus.” he continued. “For me, I've always been apart of student governments. From middle school as a class representative, to high school as a Hawaiʻi State Student Council and two-time Student Government President, as an intern for the US Senate, I know from experience that on all levels representation is important. We want someone they can go to; we want to be their advocate.”
Michael Taylor is also a Senator-at-Large, which represents the university as a whole, and was recently tasked with speaking to the LGBTQ+ committee. One of the concerns and something he will be working towards is UH Hilo having gender-neutral bathrooms.
Senator Taylor also said, “You don’t hear about these kind of issues. Going forward into next year, I want to do less tablings, less ‘hey students come to us.’ I want to make sure UHHSA reaches out to the students. We are volunteering to do this, so we do this because we want to students to have a voice.”
“ We can expect students to come to us, so if students aren’t coming to us, we have to go to the students,” Taylor continued. “I see it as very integral to campus leadership as a whole. It’s important to have that representation, and I hope that going into the future UHHSA works harder on reaching out to students rather than students reaching out to us.”
When asked what Senator Taylor would like to accomplish this upcoming academic year, he said, “This coming academic year, a few of UH Hilo's majors are up for permanent status, like the Gender and Women's Studies major. I plan on gathering student input to provide a testimony of their opinions to the Board of Regents.”
Senator Taylor also discussed the new-to-UH Hilo Aeronautical Science major, which will be available this upcoming fall semester. It will be used for both flying as well as drone piloting. “I’m really excited about that,” said Taylor. “We are the first college in the state to have an aeronautical science program, and that’s really cool.” He continued, commenting on the new major’s potential for boosting attendance, “A couple of my friends in Washington heard about this, and said that they might come back.”
With the recent results for the first elections recently in, Senator Michael Taylor will be the president for UHHSA next semester. Kevianna Adams will be the new data director, Raiatea Arcuri will be the next vice president, and George Donev is going to be the senator for the College of Natural and Health Sciences.
The upcoming semester has a lot in store, as there are many beneficial opportunities for not only the students but the campus as well. As the UHHSA members look to move toward, they also look to properly represent all students on the UH Hilo campus.