“Not Just For Lovers”

NotforLovers_ Chandler Thompson_flickr

Chandler Thompson/flickr

Alison McKane
     Staff Writer

On Tuesday, Feb. 9, the Student Mental Health and Counseling Center and Campus Activities and Programs (CAP), hosted their annual event, Not Just for Lovers.

The event was headed by Alice Franks, Staff Psychologist at the Counseling Center at UNCG. Franks has been with the University since 2005.

The intent of the event, she said was for students to have fun, “break away from the Hallmark expectations,” show that someone other than a significant other could be one’s valentine. Additionally, the event also called attention to relationship violence and red flags in relationships.

Franks spoke about how, when the event began, it was just a PowerPoint on relationships. Over the years, though, it’s evolved. On average, over the three hours, Franks said they would see about 200 or more students pass through.

“We do things we’ve found the students enjoy, but we’re always open to new ideas and trying new things,” said Franks. In April, they hold a “Distress Fest” before finals. Franks also said it helps make the Counseling Center staff seem more approachable and less “scary.”

The different stations at the event included: decorating cookies, making Valentines, word searches and coloring.

At the cookie decorating station, three students spoke about their experiences with Valentine’s Day. Christian Prescott, Rico Cruz, and Isaiah Randall spoke about what Valentine’s Day was to them, and if they had done anything “outside the box.”

When asked about their thoughts on Valentine’s Day in our society, the three young men answered very differently.

Isaiah Randall, a former peer health educator at UNCG, said he thought it was “really cute.” Christian Prescott said he thought of it more as an “industry” than a romantic holiday, and Rico Cruz, having been in a relationship for ten years and currently married, said,“He didn’t feel like it was something stressful, but could see how it could be a source of hostility for some.”

When Cruz was asked if he felt he needed to make Valentine’s Day special, after having been in a long-term relationship, he said yes. He said he felt like, “It’s a good reminder [to show the person you love how much you do]. And it’s a great excuse to be corny.”

And while celebrating Valentine’s Day can be fun and silly and for some, stressful, the other reason for the event was one that is far more serious.

Red flags in relationships can be hard to detect and even more difficult for the person experiencing them. In the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “Choose Respect Action Kit,” the aspects they listed of what constitutes a healthy relationship include: “equality, honesty, physical safety, respect, comfort, sexual respectfulness, independence and humor.”

On the other hand, aspects of an unhealthy relationship, or “red flags” included: “control, dishonesty, physical abuse, disrespect, intimidation, sexual abuse, dependence and hostility.”

UNCG’s Counseling Center and Student Health Services also gave out pamphlets during the event. On the first page, it lists, “Ten Signs of a Healthy Relationship (Friends of Romantic Partners).” The five main points of the list included: “showing kindness, giving spontaneous warmth and affection, laughter and fun, enjoying time together and time apart and making effort to resolve conflict.”

In the Red Flag Campaign handout, from Men Can Stop Rape’s “Where Do You Stand?” there are a list of things to do as “Bystander Intervention Strategies.”

Some of these strategies talk about appealing to the victim as a friend, through using “‘I’ statements,” while some talk about the “silent stare” or “distraction,” trying to break up what may be seen as unhealthy or abusive actions towards a partner if it is seen by a bystander.

The handout lists many more issues, but one thing is clear: “say something,” as the slogan for the Red Flag Campaign said.

For more information, visit the Student Health Services and Counseling Center’s website at shs.uncg.edu

Categories: Features, Human Interest, Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: