The Relationship Between Sustainability and Residential Life with HRA Hannah Baker ‘21

Headshot of Hannah Baker ‘21
Sophie Haywood ‘21, Office of Sustainability intern, sat down with Hannah Baker ‘21, HRA of Williams Hall, to discuss the relationship between sustainability and residential life.

Q: How many years have you been a part of reslife here at the college?

Hannah: I was hired as an RA at the end of my first year and began sophomore year. Then junior year I became a head RA, which I am doing this year as well. During my sophomore year, I was an RA in Brooks-Mulledy. I then lived there as a junior as well, as I was the HRA of Brooks-Mulledy. I’m currently working as the HRA of Williams.

Q: What compelled you to become an HRA?

Hannah: I loved working as an RA because I got to reach a group of residents who were just beginning their time at Holy Cross. I felt that as an HRA I would have even more opportunities to connect with first year students and help them with this really important transition. I also just loved the experience of being on an RA staff. My staff had a really great connection during my first year as an RA, and I attributed our great dynamic to our HRA. I hoped I could create the same sort of positive work environment on a staff of new RAs if I became an HRA.

Q: What about sustainability interests you?

Hannah: I’ve always felt like it’s our responsibility to take care of our planet. I don’t really know how that started — I think it was just growing up in Vermont and never really giving things like recycling a second thought. It was just what we did, and I knew it was important so I did it. Then as I grew up I started to see how that wasn’t really as common everywhere else in the world. I have become really focused on educating people around me about simple things we can do, like composting and reducing plastic waste.

Q: Have you been involved with environmental programming/ taken any relevant courses/ or learned about sustainability in any capacity while at Holy Cross or elsewhere?

Hannah: I led some book talks on The Uninhabitable Earth for the Montserrat clusters in Brooks-Mulledy when I was the HRA there, since that was the first year book for 2019-2020. I’ve taken an environmental studies course and been an active participant in the sustainability-focused initiatives at Holy Cross. I also participated in the climate strike last year, which was so exciting. I participate in Plastic Free July every year, which is a really cool initiative that challenges people all over the world to be more mindful of how much plastic is a part of our everyday lives and then to make changes to that.

Q: What is one thing you would like to see change in your residence hall in the future?

Hannah: I think a big one would be installing more reusable water bottle fillers. If we could have more refill stations in residence halls, students would be less likely to buy the plastic water bottles in the lobby shop. Anything that is going to make the lives of residents easier.

Q: Do you have any goals or ideas for collaboration with the sustainability department and the residential life in the future?

Hannah: Any sort of educational programming between sustainability and residence life would be awesome! We could make the first part educational and then the second part could be more interactive and could involve student input.