Campus Sustainability Council Brings Environmental Awareness to CUH

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Victoria DelaCruz

The Campus Sustainability Council held a general meeting near the Sullivan Family Library.

The Campus Sustainability Council is an organization comprised of 40 members consisting of students, faculty, and staff that promotes environmental awareness on  the Chaminade University campus.

The club was established during the Spring 2022 semester after students noticed a lack of sustainability efforts at the university. The council has since strived to make changes and brought awareness to students to get involved in creating a more environmentally conscious campus.

Every Wednesday evening at 4:30 p.m., the council meets at Hale Hoaloha and participates in plant restoration on campus on a plot of land behind the Saint Louis football field as part of a partnership with the Pālolo Planting Project. During restoration Wednesdays, they clear out invasive species and plant native Hawaiian flora.

Victoria DelaCruz, a senior Data Science major and president of the Campus Sustainability Council, explained the club’s importance at Chaminade.

“If I’m not mistaken, Chaminade is a Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander serving institution, and it [sustainability and environmental awareness] is crucial to almost every, if not all, island’s indigenous cultures,” DelaCruz said. “So we’re just trying to help promote it and spread and share it with those who value it and those who are learning about it.”

Pacific Island cultures emphasize a strong relationship with the land, recognizing that the land is not something to be owned and abused but instead honored and respected. This is showcased in the club’s motto, “E Malama ʻoe I ka ʻĀina, e Malama ka ʻĀina ia ʻoe,” which translates to “take care of the land, and the land will take care of you.”

The council works to expand its volunteer efforts outside of Chaminade and branched out to help the community. On Nov. 6, the club organized a community service event where club members could connect with the land and Hawaiian culture by working in a kalo patch called a loʻi in Kahana valley. The organization also worked alongside Aloha Tree Alliance to restore the Kuliʻouʻou Ridge Trail.

Kaiinipuuwai Keliihoomalu-Holz, a junior Environmental Studies major and vice president of the council, expressed why sustainability is a topic that others should be knowledgeable on.

“I think it’s very important, not only on campus but for everybody,” Keliihoomalu-Holz said. “Everybody should be thinking more sustainably, the whole world. But, I think it’s very important to have it on campus, especially at Chaminade … and especially in Hawaiʻi, you know, cause we’re an island and there’s a lot going on with global warming and sea level rise. So I think it’s very important to have a sustainability club just to get the education out there and have hands-on learning, for community service and volunteering or making connections.”

The organization was created by Chaminade alumna Cara Gutierrez (a former Silversword staff writer) during the spring semester. After graduation, Gutierrez went on to work at Zero Waste Schools Hawaiʻi, an environmental nonprofit. During the fall, she returned to campus to participate in Chaminade’s eco-fair and donated a worm compost bin to the Campus Sustainability Council.

In the future, the club plans to expand the practice of composting on campus, starting with the dorms. The organization also hopes to create a garden and greenhouse due to popular demand by students on campus.

To join the Campus Sustainability Council, fill out the Google form roster or email [email protected]