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Valentine’s Day at Aquinas

Valentine’s Day is approaching, and as always, various AQ departments and groups have worked hard to help the Aquinas community celebrate, creating events that have become standard parts of Aquinas’s winter calendar.

For three years, the cornerstone of Valentine’s Day programming at Aquinas has been the AQ Date Night, hosted by Alumni Relations. The event was held on Friday, February 8 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Brookby House.

The theme this year was “Love Sustains All.” It featured food and drink from organic farms and wineries, catered by Creative Dining Services.

Brigid Avery, director of Alumni Relations, said that although they specifically invite alumni married to other alumni, any Aquinas graduate can RSVP and bring a date. “We don’t check your marriage license at the door,” Avery said.

The atmosphere of the Aquinas campus complements a romantic evening well, Avery said. “We have this beautiful building. Holmdene just lends itself to this nice, intimate event.” For the first time, though, AQ Date Night 2013 was held at Brookby, a recently donated property serving as the president’s home.

Even though this marked only the third AQ Date Night, it already connects deeply with Aquinas tradition. “We have seven decades of couples represented,” said Avery, noting that alumni from the 1950s will be able to meet those who graduated in the last two years. Avery added that alumni from different eras of the college’s history can easily connect over the role Aquinas played in their love stories.

AQ Date Night is far from the only Valentine’s Day tradition at Aquinas. The Jane Hibbard Idema Women’s Studies Center will hold their annual Equality Bake Sale on February 14.

The Equality Bake Sale began in 2000 to call attention to the U.S.’s gender disparity in wages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women earn only 78% of what a man would earn in the same job with the same qualifications. For that reason, the Equality Bake Sale charges women 75 cents per item, while men must pay a dollar.

“It is an easy way to get [men] to think or say, ‘That’s not fair,’” said Margaret Miller, an intern at the Women’s Studies Center. Miller added that Valentine’s Day is a natural time to raise this subject, because the entire day focuses on how men and women relate to each other.

The Equality Bake Sale will run in the lobby of the Academic Building from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Valentine’s Day. Every year, the proceeds go to an area nonprofit that serves women, such as the educational fund of the Women’s Resource Center, or the Women’s Center run by Dégagé Ministries.

In addition, the Wege Café is planning a special lunch on Valentine’s Day. Marla Poterack, director of Campus Dining, said the menu includes raspberry chutney chicken, portabella pizza and shrimp scampi, with Valentine’s Day cookies and red velvet cake for dessert.

Given Valentine’s Day’s reputation for promoting materialism, Aquinas strives to offer an alternative by organizing events that engage not only people’s hearts, but also their sense of community, responsibility, and social justice.