By Alyssa Louis
Students beamed as they received red carnations, courtesy of the brothers of Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity and the College’s Counseling and Psychological Services, on Feb. 14 in the Brower Student Center.
This Valentine’s Day marked the fraternity’s fourth annual “Operation: Beautiful” event.
“This event is designed to spread positivity and mental health awareness,” said Michael Rojas, a junior mechanical engineering major and the president of Sigma Lambda Beta.
A red carnation, the fraternity’s flower, was given to anyone walking by the brothers’ table in the Student Center. The faces of most of the recipients immediately lit up with joy and gratitude when offered the flower.
“I knew when I walked by that they were giving out flowers for free, but it still made me so happy when they told me ‘Happy Valentine’s Day,’ and I couldn’t help but smile,” said Lee Smith, a freshman elementary and special education double major.
Valentine’s Day can serve as a magnifying glass on relationships –– or lack thereof –– but the fraternity is trying to change the negative stigma associated with the holiday by implementing the simple act of kindness to make students feel special.
“Handing out these flowers is a great way of spreading positivity, and they can spread the love to their significant other or anyone,” said Cesar Cruz, a senior biology major and vice president of Sigma Lambda Beta.
Stress and anxiety often consume those with or without a significant other on this annual day dedicated to celebrating love. According to a Forbes article by Johns Hopkins University professor of public health Bruce Y. Lee, the holiday can make people question the relationships they are in, summon painful memories of past relationships and overwhelm and sadden single individuals.
“For the first time, the fraternity paired up with CAPS to make more of an impact,” Rojas said.
“The expectations that accompany Valentine’s Day, the holiday intended to celebrate love and romance, can lead people into a cycle of depression,” Rojas explained.
Social media contributes to the high-stress Valentine’s Day culture, according to Smith.
“Sometimes while scrolling through social media it almost feels like everyone is just competing with each other to prove how amazing their girlfriend or boyfriend is,” Smith said.
On the other hand, many people also used the holiday to show their love and appreciation for other important individuals in their lives –– including themselves.
“Though I saw a lot of couples posting on Instagram, there were a lot of people simply celebrating friendship and self-love which is pretty awesome,” Smith said.
The fraternity hopes their actions can raise spirits while encouraging fellow students to love themselves.
The relatively simple gesture of distributing flowers is CAPS’ and Sigma Lambda Beta’s attempt to combat the negativity and despair affiliated with Valentine’s Day, while simultaneously delivering a meaningful declaration of compassion and tenderness towards members of the campus community.
“If you can’t love yourself, you can’t give love to others,” Cruz said as he unwrapped the carnations, eager to distribute them to classmates. “It makes me feel good to make others feel good.”