February 13, 2004

Valentine descends on campus

Cupid needs no arrow to pierce second-year in the College Agraja Sharma's heart this Valentine's Day.

Sharma looks forward to dressing festively for an evening of dining and downtown delights with her boyfriend of nine months, Simren Dulai—even though she has no idea where he'll be taking her.

"He's going to surprise me. I don't care what we do as long as I get to wear pink or red—and spend time with him," she said.

With the University's emphasis on the "Life of the Mind," some students seem to forget that they also have hearts. When first-year in the College Lulwah Al Zaid was asked what she thought of Valentine's Day at the University, she joked, "It's non-existent—we're a bunch of geeks. People here are asexual."

While some University students are apathetic or believe that Valentine's Day is a corporate tool used to encourage consumption, many others—like Sharma—embrace the holiday in all its frivolity and bliss.

Before becoming involved with a boyfriend, Sharma lived it up with the ladies on Valentine's Day. "I think Valentine's Day is all about having fun and celebrating your relationships, whether it's with your friends or boyfriend," she said. "I used to have tons of fun just hanging out with my lady friends and going to a restaurant."

University festivities will be in full gear this weekend, starting with a study break, "Love in the Stacks," at the Regenstein Library on Friday, between 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., in the Special Collections Research Center. Students can munch on Valentine-themed cookies and "find a sweetheart among loves long past" as they view rare and unique items from the collections that have to do with that special four-letter word.

"This is the first year we have done this, so there are no traditions to draw on," said Jay Satterfeld, Head of Reader Services at the Special Collections Research Center.

Also in the works is a dance entitled "Strawberries and Chocolate," a semi-formal at the Palmer House Hilton. The dance—scheduled from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.—is sponsored by the Organization for Latin American Students (OLAS), the Organization of Black Students (OBS), and the South Asian Students Association (SASA).

Everyone on campus, it seems, has been frantically hustling to find out restaurants to eat at, places to go, and presents to buy.

But the commercially dominated atmosphere of the holiday may be inconsistent with the romantic roots of the holiday. Legend has it that on February 14, St. Valentine was martyred for secretly marrying couples against the orders of Roman Emperor Claudius II, who had banned marriage to encourage military involvement. Still, the saint's emphasis on acknowledging the value of love is not altogether lost, even in supposedly stoic University students.