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Higher Education News from the Collegiate Way

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Tip-of-the-Month: Love is in the Air (Like It or Not)

— A holiday that many students will be especially conscious of this month is Valentine’s Day, February 14th. For some it will be a happy occasion; for others (the single ones) it will be manifested in an epidemic of mopeyness and in firmly and frequently expressed opinions to the effect that “Valentine’s Day sucks.” You can’t cure all their romantic ills and broken hearts, but you can do much good on this occasion for the members of your college family. Here’s how.

Go to the nearest discount store and buy several boxes of miniature Valentine cards—the kind that children give out in elementary school. You know the ones: three inches square, with miniature envelopes, and cartoon pictures that say things like “The sun shines ’cause you’re my valentine.” In the U.S. you can get 100 for $6.00. Next: announce that these are available for everyone in the college office or dining room (first one is free, extras are five cents each), and encourage everyone to stock up and start spreading love around the college. With the help of your resident staff and your student council, encourage all students to put decorated envelopes on their doors to receive valentines, and be sure your staff (and maybe even the master) writes one to each and every student saying “The College Loves You.” Be sure to put a large and elaborately decorated envelope on the college office door to receive valentines for your college mascot and announce dramatically that the mascot will also be pleased to receive demonstrations of affection in the form of expensive jewelry, flowers, candy, and sports cars.

Is this silly and childish? Yes. Will it make an enormous difference to the psychological welfare of many of your students? Yes. Will it teach an important lesson? Yes: it will teach that small acts of kindness can make a big difference in people’s lives.

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© Robert J. O’Hara 2000–2021