Arts, Culture & Entertainment

Trojan love is in the air

USC students are eager to celebrate all forms of love this Valentine’s Day.

A graphic of a love letter with photos of the Coliseum and USC over it.

I would have rather licked a seat in the Coliseum than walk around USC’s campus asking people how they felt about Valentine’s Day. I felt embarrassed and ashamed. It was a big “no-no” in my book.

I didn’t want to ask people about love — it’s too private and too personal.

I’ve been dating a USC student for three years. We enjoy our reserved, easy-going relationship and don’t make a big deal about things. I thought, ‘Valentine’s Day is coming up?’ OK, let’s pick a day to get dinner this week. Nothing grand. No need to mindlessly blow away our hard-earned money on overpriced paper cards or candied chocolates that don’t do anything good for our health anyway.

We know we love each other and that’s enough.

But after talking with people on USC’s campus for half an hour, I realized that there is something to celebrate on that often dreaded Feb. 14 holiday. Love was in the air. And it’s not just the ooey-gooey-coupley-relationship love, it is the strong ever-lasting-BFF love. Or the hey-I’m-happy-to-know-you love. Whatever type of love it is, USC has plenty of it.

When asked why she celebrates Valentine’s Day, 21-year-old computer science and business administration student Shreya Kedia replied, “Because, why not?”

Kedia said the holiday grew on her over time.

“I feel like Valentine’s Day used to be kind of mushy and sappy, but it’s grown on me a little bit because I feel like it’s a cute opportunity honestly to show anyone you love and care about them. And so, I think now it’s a cute occasion to celebrate,” Kedia said.

Kedia plans to celebrate the day by not only enjoying a beach picnic with her boyfriend but also spending time with her group of friends — whether that’s getting dinner, grabbing drinks or just having fun together.

Poorvi Gorripati said the beauty of Valentine’s Day is that it celebrates friendships, not just relationships.

“It’s more common now for girls who are single to get together and have a Galentine’s Day,” the 20-year-old global health student said. “I think if you are in a couple it is great for you, but also it is always great to have a nice time with your friends as well.”

As Gorripati said, Galentine’s Day has become an unofficial holiday. Cosmopolitan claimed that the holiday was created by the fictional character Leslie Knope in the witty and comical sitcom “Parks and Recreation.” The season two episode titled “Galentine’s Day” featured the spunky and overzealous Knope celebrating her closest friends with a waffle brunch the day before Valentine’s Day.

Knope declared that Feb. 13 is a day reserved for just her and her ladies to leave the men behind and hang out “breakfast style.” Knope described the day as, “like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus, frittatas.” Who could complain?

“Parks and Recreation” writers likely had no idea that Galentine’s Day would become such a widespread phenomenon when they wrote the episode in 2010. Years later, Galentine’s Day spirit overflows on the Trojan campus.

USC sound design alum Mia Glen was basking in the sun and chatting with their friend at the USC Village when I approached them asking their thoughts on the special day.

“I think [Valentine’s Day] is cute as hell,” 24-year-old Glen said. “I buy myself flowers every week, I love that s--t. I love baking, I love spending time with my friends and the people that I love. I think it’s all cute as s–t. I think it’s over-corporatized, but so is everything.”

And over-corporatized, indeed.

Americans spent $21.8 billion on Valentine’s Day in 2021, according to the National Retail Federation, and spending is expected to increase by more than $2 billion this year.

The day is often considered yet another “Hallmark holiday”—i.e., a holiday that is thought to exist for commercial purposes.

But ties to greedy corporations don’t stop Trojans from celebrating in the good-old-fashioned Valentine’s Day spirit.

“It’s the one holiday that I definitely buy into capitalism. I love love, I love red, I love pink, it’s hearts. AGH!” Belle Alatorre, a 20-year-old sound design major, said as they balanced pink heart sunnies on their nose.

Lennon Wesley III said while he recognizes the “Hallmarkiness” of the day, he appreciates the holiday for what it is supposed to celebrate.

“I do think sometimes it is a little bit over-hyped or over-pressured,” the 22-year-old philosophy, politics and law, social entrepreneurship and business administration student said. “I do think that overall it is a positive thing that is really good for people’s relationships as long as it’s a healthy concept.”

Facing my fear by “licking the Coliseum seat” and listening to strangers speak so openly about love helped me realize that it does not have to be a taboo topic. In fact, who doesn’t need more love in their life? Maybe if we talk about it more, there will finally be enough to go around.

This article is part of a special column series for Valentine’s Day 2022 and was created in Prof. Miki Turner’s JOUR 431: Feature Writing course. Visit the Valentine’s Wishes page to view more perspectives on the holiday of love (or lack thereof).