Jamie Baum’s upbringing as well as her beautiful outlook on the world and community has a deep and meaningful connection to the work that she does both on and off campus. Her love of the mountains brought her to CC, where she is deeply involved with projects such as SASS (formerly known as SOSS) and TESSA, is starting her own group on campus called START, and is the Co-chair of Hillel. Originally from New York, she is a junior sociology major and feminist and gender studies minor at Colorado College. Baum can be recognized by her non-stop engagement and presence in campus groups and projects.
The Catalyst: How are you involved in the CC community?
Jamie Baum: I am Co-chair of Hillel; for the whole time I’ve been at CC I’ve always gone to Shabbat, I really love the community there. I was SOSS Co-chair my sophomore year, and I really love that. I love SOSS and I love that work. I love the people that are drawn to that work, and I love the outcome of that kind of work. I volunteer with TESSA sometimes; it’s hard to do during the school year. It’s really hard work, but I love it. And then starting START was driven by my experience with SOSS and TESSA, and just as a friend and a person on this campus. START stands for Student Title IX Assistance and Resource Team, and three students—McKenna Becker, Leah Ciffolillo, and I—started this team of students. We’re currently in the process of figuring out who’s going to be in the group for next year. We founded this group to be a peer to peer resource for students dealing with issues related to Title IX, so that includes sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, gender based discrimination, etc. Basically what we realized just in our time here—and our work though SOSS and TESSA, and just in the CC community in general—was that students really needed and seemed to want a peer resource that kind of just eased the pressure of going to the SARC, or maybe felt less severe. It’s just easier to talk to a peer than an adult or someone through the school: that is our goal and our mission with this club, and it will officially be a group in the fall, so it’s really exciting. The goal is that this will continue, ideally forever, so that students will eventually know that there is a peer resource for these types of issues. And I try to do school somewhere in between.
TC: What is your favorite part/what is the hardest part about working with Kobi and the Interfaith House?
JB: I would say my favorite part is the people: that’s what keeps me going, and the connections that I’ve made and the friendships that I’ve built through that. I love working with Kobi. He, in my mind, is the reason why Hillel is so successful on this campus, because he makes people feel important, and he makes people feel heard and welcome. I think the fact that everyone who knows Kobi feels welcome at Shabbat, and literally any Jewish function and any Hillel function, like Passover and everything—it is a true testament to Kobi and the way he makes people feel like they’re part of a community, even if they aren’t Jewish, and I think that’s really special. I would say the hardest part might just be the time—finding the time—because we want Hillel to be able to do more, but I’m just one person, and I only have 24 hours in a day. Next year we’re going to have two co-chairs, and two people who are in charge of mitzvah projects, which are good deeds and charity work. Next year we will have more opportunity to do more things, and more people to delegate things to, so I think that should be better next year as far as time goes. But I really love it, and it doesn’t ever feel like a burden, and it feels like I’m lucky to be a part of this community and have this role with these people.
TC: Describe the way in which you were raised and how it has made you who you are today.
JB: I have chronic pain, which I have had since I was 12, so for 10 years now. I definitely think that that cultivated my empathy. I feel like I am a very empathetic person, and I try to understand other people’s pain and connect with people through empathy, and I think that has driven me to a lot of the work that I do. I find that oftentimes people come to Shabbat and are exhausted from the week and just want to debrief and just talk about all the things in their head, and I think it’s a very special place for that. I definitely think that my work with SOSS and START and TESSA is very much connected to my empathy. My mom is the nicest human in the world, so I think that having a role model like her, who has just taught me to be as kind as possible, definitely has shaped my decisions and led me to these things.
TC: What were the top three factors that motivated you to come to CC?
JB: My high school has this program for juniors and seniors—it’s called The LIFE School, which stands for Learning Independently From Experience—and it is basically a lesser version of the block plan with academia. You have smaller classes, you have to apply to get in, you take fewer classes for longer hours in a day but shorter periods of time over a semester. In LIFE school, I realized how much I benefited from this alternative style of learning, so I’m really lucky that I had that experience in high school that encouraged me to find a different type of academic style, because I really benefit from that. Also, I have always romanticized Colorado my whole life. I love the mountains, I love snowboarding, I love hiking, I love camping, I love all the things in the mountains. I think I was just drawn to Colorado. My mom didn’t let me apply to any schools that weren’t driving distance from home—I’m from New York, and the only exception was if it was in Colorado because then my parents could come visit, and that is where I ended up going! I think the type of person that goes to CC, and the mentality of students who go here, of being non-academically competitive, was very important to me. My high school was super academically competitive and I really did not like that, and I think that that’s a really unhealthy way to go through academia. So finding a school that was not academically competitive was really important to me.
TC: What are your thoughts on the religious/spiritual culture on campus?
JB: I remember really early in the school year, there was an event for freshmen in Shove that all the religious and spiritual communities were there to advertise their community. That was my first real integration into Shove culture, and it really blew my mind how beautiful it was, and how lovely and open and welcoming and really authentic. Everyone was just really great, and I remember leaving that experience and really feeling grateful that I was in this community now. I’m not really involved in much outside of Hillel, but every time I do step into that community it’s really lovely, and I’m always really blown away by how wonderful people in that community are. So, as far as the rest of the student body goes, I think that the spirituality component of having such an interfaith chapel is present—the way in which Shove is so interfaith and spiritual—and not aggressively religious is, I think, really well received on this campus.
TC: Do you feel there needs to be any kind of improvement in the inclusivity or general approach to events hosted by the chaplains office?
JB: I think there is always room for improvement, and there are always ways to make things more inclusive. I think unless you have the entire student body voluntarily choosing to go to an event, there is more to do, I’d say. I don’t want to speak for the rest of the Shove Chaplain’s Office because I know they work really hard and do really amazing work, and I don’t know enough about that. I think, in general, that a good way of going through life is that you’re never done, you’ve never reached everyone, there’s always more work to be done, there’s always more people to reach, there’s always more ways to be inclusive. Being open to hearing other people’s feedback about things you can do better, or working with others and being able to recognize that there is so much to learn from others, and that you’re never really done.
TC: What was your favorite birthday party?
JB: My sister’s birthday is in August, and mine is in January, and so she would have these outdoor parties with magicians and relay races and stuff, so I was always really jealous of her. But then I would have ice-skating parties and she was always really jealous of me. I loved ice-skating when I was growing up; I did a lot of ice-skating. Until I was eight or nine, I ice-skated a lot, and so I liked having ice-skating parties because it’s just kind of a fun little thing: good memories. That was a time to be alive.
TC: What kind of change, if any, have you observed in the work you do with the several projects you work with on campus over your past three years at CC?
JB: When I was a freshman, you had to apply and interview to get into SOSS, and it was a closed group. That was because it used to have a 24-hour phone line. So my freshman year there were no longer people who had the experience to work the phone, so when I got here there was this new gap in resources, and there had been this peer to peer resource—that is similar to what START will be—that disappeared. I’d say entering as a freshman, and hearing everyone in SOSS talk about how we used to have a phone and we used to have training and it used to be “xyz,” and realizing that students really loved that and students really need that, and having a peer resource is really beneficial, so in that regard, I think recognizing that that was a gap on this campus, and then trying to fill that gap is definitely a reflection of my three years here so far. In that regard, SOSS also changed at the beginning of my sophomore year; it became an open group, which I think was really beneficial and really brought in so many beautiful and passionate members. SOSS has done so much good education prevention work since then. With Hillel, it honestly hasn’t changed much, and I think that is a part of what makes it so great: kind of just knowing that no matter what, every Friday you will find all the same people in the Interfaith House eating dinner together. I would definitely say there are more people. My freshman year a small Shabbat was 10 of us, and this year a small Shabbat is like 20 or 30 people. It’s been really cool to watch. Since my freshman year, I only ever missed one or two Shabbats over my three years at CC.
TC: How do you plan to incorporate the work that you’ve done with CC into the greater world when you leave?
JB: I think I have learned a lot about myself in the work that I’ve done, and so being able to be self-reflective about what I have personally gained out of these experiences and how to turn that into other things. Kind of just realizing that I’ve learned to listen better and value all the feedback [I] can get. I’m a sociology major and a feminist and gender studies minor, and I think that that goes hand in hand with the work that I do as well. I’m currently in the Sociology of Israel/Palestine, and I would say, as far as self-recognition, recognizing where I fall and recognizing my positionality, and my perspective and understanding that everyone has their own different perspectives, and everyone falls somewhere different in the world. Keeping this self-recognition, and an open mind, and an awareness of the importance of collaboration and listening. I think that goes hand in hand with my major and my minor, and the work that I want to do: whatever that ends up being.
TC: Where do you see yourself in four/five years?
JB: I’d say the most important thing for me is that in four or five years I have maintained the relationships that I have here, whether that means that I’m living in the same place as friends, or I’m keeping in contact. I don’t know where I’ll be. I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing something related to the topics that I already spend a lot of my time on, but I truly don’t know. I think that as long as I maintain the relationships, I’ve made so many amazing friends; I’ve met so many amazing people here. That’s where I see myself, maintaining these relationships and holding onto the good people.