Sophie Haywood ‘21, Office of Sustainability intern, sat down with Nelson Martinez De Los Santos ‘22, RHA of Alumni Hall, to explore how sustainability integrates into living in a residential hall.
Q: What compelled you to become an RA?
Nelson: Community building was the main reason I wanted to become an RA. I felt that I could have had a better first year if my RA was someone that I could turn to whenever I felt like I needed somebody to hang out with or confide in. I felt like I needed a mentor to help guide me because I did feel a little lost as a first generation latino student from the west coast that was going to a predominantly white institution on the east coast. I came to the conclusion that I would try to be that person for first years could look to, and that is what made me want to become a first year RA.
Q: What about sustainability interests you?
Nelson: Growing up in Arizona I saw a lot of solar panels, so it was something that was always on my mind. The ability to make energy out of natural sources, such as sun and wind has always been really cool to me. As a vegan, sustainability is a big part of why I decide not to eat meat because I don’t believe it is an efficient use of our resources. Personally, living sustainably is just how I live.
Q: What is one green behavior that you have seen students doing well in your residence halls already?
Nelson: Recycling! I have been seeing a lot of students recycling this year, and have not seen very many trash on the floors or outside of residence halls. I have also seen students cut back on food waste. With Kimball giving out portions now, I have seen students eat most of their food which is a good thing to see.
Q: In your experience, which kind of reslife programs have you seen students get the most excited about? What would be any advice you have to get students excited about the new Green Student Living Program?
Nelson: In my experience, students are the most excited about programs that give out free food, or do something for the student that interests them. They also get excited when they are doing something active that gets them involved in the community. For students to get excited about the Green Student Living Program, they need to understand why they are doing it. Physical representations of the impact that they have are important because many times, students have to see it to believe it. If it is something that students care about, students will respond better to it.
Q: Do you have any goals or ideas for collaboration with the sustainability department and the residential life in the future?
Nelson: One goal for sustainability and residence life in the future would be for students to live more intentionally, and to be more cautious when choosing what they are taking and using.