Healthy relationships the focus of Valentine’s Day at UMass

Several groups on campus are working to promote the topic

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Healthy relationships the focus of Valentine’s Day at UMass

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

By Abigail Charpentier, News Editor

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As Valentine’s Day approaches, student groups at the University of Massachusetts are working to educate students about healthy relationships while also promoting self-care.

On Monday, Alpha Chi Omega kicked off their “Healthy Relationships” week, where they aim to promote healthy and supportive relationships along with raising awareness about toxicity in relationships.

“This week, we really want people to think of what really consists of healthy relationships, things like mutual respect, communication, healthy boundaries,” said Subah Nasim, Alpha Chi Omega’s vice president of philanthropy. “We want them to focus on those things and all the good things love can be if we take out the toxicity.”

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women and one in nine men experience “severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, use of victim services, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, etc.”

When tabling in the Campus Center, members of Alpha Chi Omega are talking to students about domestic violence awareness and selling cake pops for their philanthropic group, Safe Passage, a domestic violence shelter in Northampton. On Monday, they sold cake pops for $1 each and raised $106 for Safe Passage. They hope to earn another $100 by the end of the week.

Alpha Chi Omega also launched their “#LoveIs” social media campaign to encourage people to share their stories and experiences.

“We ask people to take a pledge in trying to promote [healthy relationships] and if they see toxicity in their lives, even if it’s in their platonic relationships, to try to address the problem instead of ignoring it and try to really focus on yourself,” Nasim said. “Like what are you doing that’s contributing to the problem. And how can you fix that and help others?”

Nasim said the social media campaign has been doing well, but hopes more men will participate by the end of the week.

“When you get a huge community of people like on social media, just posting stuff, that’s when people start to notice. So I’m hoping we can get more of that,” she said.

Similarly, the UMass Public Health Club will also be tabling in the Campus Center on Thursday, Feb. 14 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. to promote healthy relationships, self-care and oral care.

PHC will be giving away free goodie bags to the first 100 people to visit their table. Included are  condoms for safe sex and healthy decision making, dark chocolate, which contains the antioxidant polyphenols known for stress relief and Vitamin C tablets to promote the importance of prevention during the flu season. Also included in the bags are handwritten notes from members of the club.

Despite not previously knowing that both groups are working to address the same topic, Soleen Ghahraman, a public health junior and president of the club, thinks it’s important to spread the message.

“I think it’s so great… that students are able to discover this like for themselves because I feel like we’re all pretty similar ages. So for discovering the same things about respecting ourselves and others and we’re promoting it all together, I think that’s like such a great cause,” Ghahraman said.

Abigail Charpentier can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @abigailcharp.