Erin McAuliffe | February 27, 2017
It was 50 degrees in South Bend on Valentine’s Day, but the weather was pretty much the only thing heating up on campus.
Besides the people playing catch, lounging in hammocks and break dancing on North Quad, the day was just like any other in February. Even after volunteering to report on Valentine’s Day interactions around campus, I was still surprised by my professor’s choice of Feb. 14 attire: a navy and white striped T-shirt adorned with red lip prints. Only after she put economics-themed Valentines on the projector (along the lines of: “I don’t think you’re great, I think you’re fantastic. For what you’re supplying, my demand’s inelastic.”) did I remember the holiday.
Dressing up in pink or red for the day was popular among my professors, but in my marketing class only one student was sporting the holiday colors. She also gushed about her boyfriend from home, who had surprised her with a visit, while a girl on my right, dressed in a gray sweatshirt, muttered that all her boyfriend had surprised her with was the medium cup of Einstein Bros. coffee she was holding.
I overheard a telling conversation between classes in DeBart: “I always wear black on Valentine’s Day. I hate this holiday,” one girl said. Her friend responded that her roommate had woken up and put on a red shirt, but had changed into something more neutral when she realized what day it was.
It seems as if this ambivalence — or even hatred — toward Valentine’s Day could stem from the logistics of college: Many students study abroad during the spring semester and miss out on celebrating with their significant others. Others date people who go to school somewhere else. Of course, many students don’t date at all.
A lot of us associate the holiday with other kinds of relationships. My Instagram feed was filled with pictures of people showing love to their families (pets included) and having fun with friends at Galentine’s Day celebrations on Feb. 13, a holiday popularized by Leslie Knope, Amy Poehler’s character in the series Parks and Recreation. One friend even posted a screenshot of a text message with her dad: “Will you send me flowers for Valentine’s Day? I don’t have a valentine” to which her dad had disappointingly not yet responded.