Valentine’s Day is traditionally a holiday to dote on and spoil your lover, with little regard for yourself. Title IX’s Consent Week aimed to change this concept with events that teach the importance of being completely and hopelessly in love with yourself. 

“The focus that I had this year was really more about self-love,” violence prevention and education outreach coordinator for the Title IX office, Zyaijah Nadler, said. “I know the school has been having a lot of conversations around mental illness, anxiety, depression and suicide.”

The week of Valentine’s Day marked Title IX’s consent week: a slew of events aimed at promoting the awareness of healthy relationships not only with significant others, but ourselves. 

“I think it’s very powerful, especially when you have the national holiday where the focus is showing others how much you love them, to focus just the same amount of energy on ourselves,” Nadler said. 

The first event that kicked off this week of awareness was the annual tabling of Title IX campaign “What does consent mean to you?” Students in the Angell College Center were able to stop and have a discussion about consent and write down how they define it.  

“Consent is required regardless of how anyone ever feels. It’s important and it’s healthy for everyone,” Nadler said. 

During Tuesday night’s snow storm, individuals braved the harsh conditions to attend a Zumba class instructed by Alexis Valentine and facilitated by the Title IX office. 

“Magically, about 15 people still showed up in the snowstorm to do Zumba,” Nadler said. “One of them was my intern and her friends and they said they had a great time.” 

Title IX intern, sophomore english language arts major Chrissie Shae, endured Tuesday’s snow, ice and harsh winds to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the Zumba class. 

“[Zumba] was very comfortable and judgment free,” Shae said. “It was a chance to get away from schoolwork and just dance and exercise and feel good about yourself.” 

Breathing techniques that are taught as self-care and coping techniques were needed to succeed during Zumba. According to Nadler, “If you’re not breathing right, you’re going to be struggling”. 

“In the same sense, we talk about breathing being a tip and a technique to use through self-care,” Nadler said. “So it’s reincorporating a lot of things that we tell people as self-care tips or good advice.” 

Another Consent Week event was a movie showing and discussion paying tribute to Yeardley Love, the University of Virginia student who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2010.

“Her parents started the [One Love Foundation] to raise awareness for dating and domestic violence, especially within college students,” Nadler said. 

 The movie educated viewers on the difference between a healthy relationship vs. a toxic one. After, a peer-to-peer discussion was held in which students could openly talk about how this topic has affected them or people they love. 

“We wanted to make sure it was a very organic conversation,” Nadler said. 

Shae was also in attendance. 

“The even went really well. We had it with [Alpha Epsilon Phi],” Shae said. “Everyone spoke and they all seemed really interested in the conversation. It’s interesting to know that other student orgs care about this stuff just like I do.” 

Conversations covered the difficult topic of surviving a domestically violent relationship or watching your friends struggle with a toxic partner. 

“Everyone was brutally honest but in a good way,” Shae said. 

The week of falling in love with yourself and being educated on the love and treatment you deserve ended on a lighter note with a self-love night. Students who attended the small, intimate gathering bonded through board games, making rice stress balls and DIY lip scrubs made from coconut oil, brown sugar and honey. However, the underlying message went deeper than the games and crafts. 

“Self-care is more than face masks,” Nadler said. “We can look at the external, but self-care is also taking care of yourself internally. Whether that’s going to a therapist or talking to someone, it’s still self-care.” 

Consent and self-love are very important concepts to grasp. 

“Promoting consent is very important,” Shae said. “People should be aware of unhealthy and healthy relationships.” 

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