Graphic by Bridget Early
BRIDGET EARLY | OPINION COLUMNIST | firstname.lastname@example.org
Valentine’s Day is here, marking the perfect day out of the year to tell the people in your life that you love and appreciate them. From friends, family and significant others, to staff and faculty, everyone deserves to have the grey monotony of their February broken up by a celebration of all things beautiful.
Although Valentine’s Day is certainly the easiest time to show how much you care, expressing love for the people you care about is something that ought to be commonplace throughout the calendar year. After a turbulent year filled with animosity and vindictive rhetoric from all kinds of outlets, love is the panacea that our community sorely needs.
Butler University has a reputation for the collective love it continually emanates; our “Community of CARE” policy is a focal feature anyone who’s ever been a first-year dawg could explain to you in detail. There is a mutual respect and dedication to well-being that dominates campus life, extending from simple manners to public unification of protest when situations- read: mishandled cases of sexual assault– are not as they should be.
This love is what makes Butler unique and strong, both as a physical community and as a graduated network beyond the confines of Atherton Mall. Love as confined as self care and as expansive as school-wide programs builds the foundation for an institution that values personal growth and mutual trust.
Throughout the past week, dozens of dawgs have spoken with me about what love means to them, an experience that has been incredibly uplifting in a week full of pre-midterms stresses.
As a whole, the Butler community is celebrated for being extremely proactive about its love. Simple gestures like watching someone’s laptop in Starbucks- which is largely unnecessary as the community has enough integrity that most students feel comfortable leaving their things unattended- and having meaningful, friendly conversations with strangers is something apparent even to visiting prospective students.
Madi Blair, a first-year English major, believes the strength of the student community’s love is something truly special among universities.
“Butler’s community is really intentional about loving others within it,” Blair said. “People across the community are all about being warm and open and willing to talk, even if you’ve just met them.”
Nick Adams, a special education major, believes the fate of Butler’s collective love lies in the community that forms in hall-style dorms. Ross, one of the only dorms on Butler’s campus like this, is on its last legs. Adams worries that the unique camaraderie that stems from spontaneous Ross adventures may be in jeopardy as well.
“Recently, something that I’ve started to understand is that the Butler connection people always talk about is in jeopardy,” Adams said.
He believes that the foundations for a close-knit community lie in the opportunities to meet and learn from new people within an open-door building.
“We need to continue to have a place to form the connections that allow students to feel willing to stand up for what they believe in and we need to make sure we continue to express our love and compassion throughout the entire school,” Adams said.
Self love also plays a major part in the foundation Butler encourages. Sarah Pate, a pharmacy major, believes loving yourself is more important than just thinking about it.
“[Self love is] not only knowing what you need physically, mentally, and emotionally, but also being certain to it to yourself unapologetically,” Pate said.
Loving yourself is the first step to expressing love more freely and frequently. Finding the things that are beautiful about yourself builds confidence and opens your eyes to the positivities in the community around you. By loving things that make you unique, you are more capable of contributing your uniqueness to a community of people willing to love you for what you have to offer.
“Everyone has things they’re dissatisfied with that they’re trying to improve or things they don’t like that they can’t change, but I think embracing that is part of what makes you love yourself more and makes you more capable of loving others around you,” Pate said.
One aspect of loving yourself students universally agreed upon is the opportunity to take time to recuperate from the stresses of school and over involvement on campus, which many dawgs have the tendency to do. Without adequate time to prioritize physical, emotional, and psychological needs on a personal level, students run the risk of “burning out”, jeopardizing their grades and health in an attempt to stay on top of continuously building lists of coursework.
Sarah Ault, a first year theater major, disagrees with the three-strike attendance policy at Butler, which brings students’ grades down a full letter after their third absence. Ault believes that the occasional heath day is crucial to the success of a college community.
“I shouldn’t feel like I have to come to class when I’m throwing up my guts or feel like I am a second away from a breakdown,” Ault said. “Adding to the stress of school with mandatory attendance just serves to bring students down and defeats the purpose of a proactive learning environment.”
Love is a defining characteristic of Butler University. From the smallest and most personally beneficial acts of love to the outreach of the campus as a whole, Butler’s community of love continues to support thousands of people each day. Although it is a work in progress, Butler’s crown jewel is something that students here are universally thankful for, and are willing to support into the future.