By Jillian Waterhouse, Staff Writer—
In preparation for Valentine’s Day, the UTC Center for Student Wellbeing hosted a week packed full of events intended to encourage students to open up about healthy relationships.
Healthy Relationships Week, which included five days of education and discussion-based gatherings, is an annual event full of activities that provide students tools to assess their current relationships and develop healthy relationship skills for the future.
Megan McKnight, Assistant Director for education and prevention at the Center for Student Wellbeing, spoke about the content of the events.
On Monday, Feb. 8, students who purchased Valentine’s Day candy grams on campus received information about dating violence, abuse, and stalking, as well as the resources available on campus for confronting these issues.
A discussion-based event in which students could envision what a healthy relationship would look like in their personal lives was held on Tuesday.
Wednesday, a formal training session was hosted by McKnight and a campus survivor advocate in which they raised awareness for dating violence and how to intervene in difficult situations.
On Thursday, students were offered free self-care bags full of items and information encouraging them to spend time with themselves and assess their own mental health.
On Friday, a discussion-based seminar was held over Zoom which discussed the unique challenges and benefits of queer relationships. The conversation highlighed pressures that may apply exclusively to queer relationships, such as the gold star standard or the U-Haul myth. Students were also encouraged to vent about pressures and stereotypes surrounding their relationships.
Keeping student health and safety in mind, the events of the week were primarily held on Zoom, with the exception of a few craft activities held for residential students. With the move to online, participation rates are expected to fall, as events may feel less personal and interesting.
“Turnout expectations in a Covid world are very different than they were before,” McKnight said.
However, McKnight remained positive about the level of student participation achieved throughout the week, highlighting that 130 consent t-shirts were given away to students participating in campus Valentine’s Day activities. Over 100 students received self-care bags through their participation in the week’s events.
Even though Healthy Relationships Week 2021 has come to a close, the Center for Student Wellbeing is still eager to interact with students. McKnight echoed this sentiment, emphasizing that students may visit the Center to discuss nearly anything with the staff.
“I want students to know that we want to engage in these discussions with students,” she said. “We’re happy to facilitate a dialogue; not everything has to be a formal training. It could even be about a problematic TV show that they love.”
Valentine’s Day brightens the spotlight on healthy relationships, but relationships are an ever present aspect of life, whether they be healthy or unhealthy. The Center for Student Wellbeing is open for students year-round, no matter which holiday is relevant at the time.
“There’s help available on campus,” McKnight said. “There are resources. If you’re in an unhealthy relationship, we’re here to support you. If you just want to make sure that things going on in your relationship are healthy, we’re here for that too.”