NEWS

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February 14, 2006

Students recognize V-Day sans hooplah, cheesiness

Valentine’s Day has arrived yet again, and U of C students are acting accordingly: The Feminist Majority has planned its annual reading of the Vagina Monologues, Queers and Associates is hosting a Wine and Whine event, and there is even rumor of a party “celebrating love, affection, and romance” in the form of tequila and porn.

“Yea, people seem more bitter than usual,” said second-year in the College Zach Herz, when asked if there is any palpable Valentine’s Day culture on campus.

Third-year in the College Elliott Powell, concurred: “I identify myself as being anti-Valentine’s Day.”

“Mock Trial is my Valentine,” admitted another student, who wished to remain anonymous.

The University of Chicago has earned a reputation of anti-romantic clichés: “Where the squirrels are more attractive than the girls and more aggressive than the guys” and “Where the only thing that will go down on you is your GPA” are two that come to mind. Students often see, if not purchase, one of these t-shirts around campus. And certainly, speaking about sublimated desires and unrequited love is part of the U of C culture; it is assumed with the same sardonic pride as choosing to go to the school “where fun comes to die.”

But what does one expect in a place where love is treated in the abstract, worthy of analysis in classes like “On Love”? Students often complain that heady courses such as this demand that they supplant real life experience in love with cold-hard analysis in the classroom.

Second-year in the College Danielle Tcholakian said she will not be celebrating Valentine’s Day because she has class.

But before attacking the University, it’s important to take a look at the University’s greater surroundings here in Chicago. In 2004, on the day that estimates the largest candy sales of the year, Chicago aldermen organized a boycott of Fanny May chocolates, because Archibald Candy Corp. was closing down its Chicago plant.

This is the same city in which ex-Shoreland resident and gangster, Al Capone, engineered the famous “Valentine’s Day Massacre,” ordering the murder of seven people in cold blood on February 14, 1929. Even at best, it would be difficult to argue that Chicago prides itself on romance. After all, this is the city where, in 2005, the “Dodge Dakota Pickup Pucker-Up” contest awarded an all-new 2005 Dodge Dakota to the suitor who could lock lips with the shiny-new, bright-red pickup for the longest time on Valentine’s Day.

At least some people are resisting the anti-Valentine’s Day-sentiment. Second-year in the College Nadia Aksentijevich reported that she will be spending Valentine’s Day having dinner with her boyfriend.

“I’m expecting concert tickets,” she said, adding her sympathies for her friends who won’t be celebrating this year. “I think about 90 percent of the people at this school look down on Valentine’s Day.”

Whether or not the University is anti-romantic, one thing is for sure: People here like to think they have the right answer, especially when it’s off the beaten track or escapes mainstream radar. And in this case, perhaps they do. After all, St. Valentine’s Day was never originally about romance, it was about the execution of St. Valentine, who was martyred for secretly marrying couples against the orders of Roman Emperor Claudius II, who had banned marriage to encourage military involvement. Perhaps the alleged 90 percent of the U of C community not celebrating this year can take solace in historical origins. Happy Valentine’s Day to the other 10 percent.