Campus was brimming with feelings of love this Valentine’s Day—love for AU, that is. Students and faculty were given the opportunity to express their appreciation for AU during I <3 AU Day, the Friday before Valentine’s Day.
The event was put on by the Student Alumni Association and was held in the Bottom of Decker Friday morning and early afternoon. Students and faculty were invited to write down what they love most about AU on a pink heart that was then hung up for display. Those who participated in filling out the heart were given an I <3 AU button to wear throughout the day.
A photo booth from 98.7 The Song was placed in the Bottom of Decker, where students could snap a photo with their friends and a collection of Valentine’s Day and AU Spirit props. AU mascot Rodney the Raven was also there to take pictures with students and boost morale. Students were encouraged throughout the event to post these pictures on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and to share them with the “iheartAU” hashtag.
Casey Brown is the marketing and social media coordinator for the Office of Alumni Relations and one of the staff sponsors of the Student Alumni Association. Brown stated that I <3 AU Day was planned to boost spirits on campus.
“I wanted to come up with an idea of an event for students that would boost morale during a time of year that’s usually cold and bleak,” said Brown. “I heard that other schools have put on similar events to I <3 AU Day, so I thought it would be a great thing for the Student Alumni Association to put on for AU.”
Tyler Akers, who is a staff sponsor for the SAA as well as a development officer in the Office of Development, emphasized the importance of hosting positive events at a time in the semester when it is easy to become overwhelmed with schoolwork.
“The purpose [of I <3 AU Day] is truly to help students, faculty and staff build an affinity towards the university,” Akers said. “It is extremely easy to hop on board the negativity train, so the Alumni and Development Offices thought, ‘why don’t we do an event that’s fun, builds school spirit, and is overall just a positive event?’ This day is all about students, faculty and staff realizing and confirming to them what a special place AU is and how much it means to them.”
The notes that students, faculty and staff wrote on their pink hearts conveyed a wide variety of experiences and happy memories. Akers shared a memory about becoming close friends with his assigned roommate during his freshmen year. “We turned out to be great friends and lived with each other three of the four years we went to AU, plus I was a groomsman in his wedding. So if it hadn’t been for AU, I wouldn’t have made a life-long friend in Jake Hutchison.”
Alexandria Roley, who recently became a member of SAA, hopes that students and faculty took the opportunity on I <3 AU Day to reflect on the positive aspects of the AU campus and community.
“Sometimes I feel like it’s easy to focus on all of the little complaints or things you personally would change rather than recognizing what a privilege it is to be here,” Roley said. “So I <3 AU Day is really just a time to reflect on what you personally love and appreciate about AU.”
Although this year marks the first time I <3 AU Day has been held on campus, SAA hopes to make it a Valentine’s Day tradition in future years. “It’s a great time of year to do an affinity-based event during the season of love,” said Akers.
The Student Alumni Association is in the process of restructuring the organization. Changes to the club will commence at the beginning of next year. Akers hopes that the restructuring of the club will attract more members in the future.
Roley hopes that more people will be encouraged to get involved with SAA after attending I <3 AU Day. “I am really excited to be involved in SAA because it’s going to be a great chance to network and build relationships with alumni, get some leadership experience and just help spread around a positive attitude about AU,” Roley said.
SAA is planning more morale-boosting events like I <3 AU Day to occur during the remainder of the semester. On March 3, the SAA will host the annual Tuition Freedom Day, during which students can visit Bottom of Decker to sign a banner thanking alumni and friends of AU who have donated to AU.
SAA is also sponsoring the annual Senior Send-Off celebration on April 29. The organization hopes that these events will help spread positivity and encourage students to reflect on the things they love about AU.