Students write empowering valentines focused on respect

By Gabi DiPaulo | February 18, 2019 1:28pm

Students take part in Diversity and Inclusion Programs empowering valentines event writing valentines.
by Jeffrey Braccia / The Beacon

Amid flurries of pink paper hearts and mountains of chocolates, a different kind of Valentine’s Day Celebration was taking place on Thursday night in St. Mary’s Lounge. At a table stocked with sharpies and construction paper, Diversity & Inclusion Programs (DIP) led a celebration of “Empowering Valentines.”

Originally, Diversity & Inclusion Programs had planned an event entitled "Love Shouldn’t Hurt," featuring Health and Counselling Center coordinator Megan Cohara. But Cohara fell sick the day of the event. Instead of cancelling, DIP quickly turned the event around and created a new event, called “Empowering Valentines.”

These non-traditional Valentines focused less on idealized, traditionally heterosexual elements of the holiday and instead emphasized individual values of autonomy and respect. Some of the cards read “Put Your Needs First” and “Let’s Resist Together.”

Junior Lauren Kerr writes out some empowering valentines.
by Jeffrey Braccia / The Beacon

Students were provided with Valentine’s supplies and encouraged to write to any person they loved. Valentine’s candy, snacks and non-alcoholic rosé were also offered to those in attendance. 

Freshman history major Hazel Stange, who spearheaded planning the "Love Shouldn’t Hurt" event as well as its quick turnaround to “Empowering Valentines,” hoped to create an environment that welcomed all students, regardless of their sexual identity or relationship status.

“The thought was to be as inclusive as possible to LGBT+ communities,” Strange said. “I hope that people on campus know there’s more outside the heteronormative Valentine’s celebrations.”

Sophomore Karl Kahambwe writes an empowering valentine at Diversity and Inclusion Programs empowering valentines event.
by Jeffrey Braccia / The Beacon

Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator Yuri Hernández Osorio said that the "Love Shouldn’t Hurt" event would still occur as planned within the month.

“We aim to dispel some of the myths out there around domestic and intimate violence,” Osorio said of the original  event. “We think this conversation is important regardless of the date.” 

The Diversity & Inclusion Programs will continue to hold events consistently throughout the year designed to support and uplift marginalized voices.

Gabi DiPaulo is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at