On Monday, Feb. 13, the University of New Mexico hosted a “Galentine’s Day” celebration in the Student Union Building atrium. With a combination of information tables and fun holiday activities, the event was equal parts entertaining and educational; conversations around consent and activism were a focal point, according to event organizer Courtney Love.
Several tables sporting festive pink and red tablecloths were set out in the atrium. Students could circle each table and participate in cookie decorating and card making. Attendees also took turns in front of a decorative backdrop to have their photos taken by Love with a polaroid camera.
Love’s idea for a Valentine’s Day celebration stemmed from the fact that forms of love that are not romantic or are nontraditional forms of love are often underrepresented. She said she planned activities that are usually associated with Valentine’s Day for anyone who cared to participate.
Love landed on the Galentine’s title specifically to emphasize female friendships, but she said all forms of relationships should be celebrated.
“We wanted to give students a chance to celebrate a love that’s not always romantic. A lot of Valentine’s celebrations are centered on boy-girl, romantic relationships rather than friendships,” Love said.
The celebration was not just about aesthetics, though. It was also attended by two organizations on campus: Planned Parenthood Generation Action and the Women’s Resource Center. Both groups had information tables at the event.
Myka Martinez, president of Generation Action, said that groups’ participation around campus is beneficial for students and group members alike.
“(Generation Action is) a student group partnered with Planned Parenthood. We provide things to students, like information or condoms and internal condoms and put on events that show that we are here on campus,” Martinez said.
The problems that occur without good education or accessibility are too common on college campuses, which is why it is important for these groups to exist, according to Martinez. Issues addressed by Generation Action are ones that are often heavily stigmatized, such as domestic or sexual violence and discrimination.
“(We are) lending a helping hand to people who need it, as well as trying to get rid of the stigma around these issues,” Martinez said.
Michelle Dugan, campus advocate of the WRC, said that accessible information allows campus organizations to spread their messages to a wider audience and get participants thinking about what more they can do for their communities. More importantly, victims of intimate partner violence or sexual violence are introduced to helpful resources, according to Dugan.
Get content from The Daily Lobo delivered to your inbox
“We provide a confidential site, a confidential source, for students on campus who are struggling with issues like domestic violence or sexual assault. We are not mandatory reporters, and we can assist with the process of figuring out what to do next,” Dugan said.
The Women’s Resource Center hosts a variety of services, including but not limited to free bilingual counseling services, interactive workshops and free printing, according to Dugan. Additionally, the WRC isn’t just for women.
“The Women’s Resource Center is open to people of all genders. Anyone is welcome,” Dugan said.
The Women’s Resource Center also helps to engage students in the legislative process, according to interim director Áine McCarthy.
“The ‘Only Yes Means Yes’ Bill would teach affirmative consent in middle and high schools in New Mexico. Bill SB 82 looks to change the statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse for those who report later in life, as most do,” McCarthy said.
The “Only Yes Means Yes” Bill was passed through the New Mexico House of Representatives in early February of this year and will be reviewed by the New Mexico Senate’s Education Committee later this month, according to the New Mexico Legislature website.
Along with their services, the Women’s Resource Center hosts and supports many events on campus. Most recently, they orchestrated a calling party with the Sexual Assault Youth Support Network, where attendees called New Mexico Senators to express their support for both bills disscussed, according to McCarthy. Additionally, they host “Crafternoons” every Tuesday at 12 p.m. at the Women’s Resource Center.
The Women’s Resource Center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Mesa Vista Hall 1160. Walk-ins are welcome.
Detroit Kallunki is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DailyLobo