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Skidmore College

‘Love is all you need’

February 20, 2024

Love was in the air as students, faculty, and staff gathered in the Wyckoff Center for Lovefest, a colorful celebration that included reiki, a sound bath, chair massages, emotional support animals, arts and crafts, delicious treats, and so much more, courtesy of the Office of Institutional Diversity and Strategic Planning. 

The 2024 event marked the second year of the tradition, conceived of by Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity Joshua C. Woodfork. A number of campus offices offered support for the program.  

Coinciding with Valentine’s Day, Lovefest aims to offer the community a space where everyone is loved and welcomed. It honors the tenets of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice to which the Wyckoff Center is dedicated. The program also reflects Skidmore’s commitment to the health and well-being of the community, a strategic priority of the College.  

The Feb. 14 celebration was guided by the work of professor, author, cultural critic, and feminist theorist bell hooks and her book “All About Love: New Visions.” Attendees were encouraged to consider hooks’ wisdom as they gathered, laughed, and reinvested in self-care during the event. 

To truly love we must learn to mix various ingredients — care, affection, recognition, respect, commitment, and trust, as well as honest and open communication.
bell hooks

CELEBRATING LOVE IN ALL its forms

Members of the Skidmore community reflect on love’s components while recounting their experiences at Lovefest.  

Care

Francie chats about healing at Lovefest 2024.

Lovefest featured homeopathic therapy stations to offer students, staff, and faculty some much needed relaxation.

"When people ask me if I am excited for Valentine's Day, I usually respond with anything between mild disinterest to passionate dislike. Especially in years past, the holiday has just felt like a day for extreme consumerism and showing off your newest relationship. And while that is great for the lucky few, it gets very frustrating to be inundated with pink and red, chocolates, and flowers. 

"Lovefest seemed like the perfect way to reroute my frustrations toward positivity. And it did! I crafted, chatted, snacked, hung with my friends and with the dogs.  

"While I would not consider myself a believer in practices like energy or sound healing, I was interested in the various homeopathic therapy stations set up in the Wyckoff Center and sat down to learn about, and experience, energy healing.

"To be honest, I don’t know if it worked, but it was nice to lie down for a minute and have someone validate that I was stressed. Even hearing someone else say “you seem anxious and overwhelmed” slowed me down enough to realize I need to commit more time to caring for myself. Overall, I found Lovefest to be very enjoyable; the Wyckoff Center was colorfully decorated, the mood was high, and the participants were friendly. As a Valentine's Day cynic, I will say I was pleasantly surprised!

- Francie Wharton ’25 

Affection

Clara pets therapy dog Melinda at Lovefest.

Therapy dogs at Lovefest showed their love for the Skidmore community.

"The gaggle of therapy dogs at Lovefest made us all laugh with their antics but also emphasized the importance of mental health in academic settings. I felt my worries melt away as I played with a yellow lab named Melinda, and I got to watch my fellow students experience the same canine-induced joy. These dogs played an important role in lowering my stress levels and those of everyone in attendance.  

"The station also helped me to connect with classmates I had never met before, even if it was just to joke about the amount of dog hair on our outfits. Overall, the therapy dogs at Lovefest provided a fun way to connect and to give and receive affection in a low-stress environment."

- Clara Morgan ’26 

Recognition  

Love notes at Lovefest

Lovefest celebrated all sorts of ways to show care and recognition, from love notes to heart-shaped cookies and chair massages.

"Valentine’s Day has always been an exciting day for me because it has always belonged to my parents. Each year on this day, I would wake up to my dad blasting reggae love songs in the kitchen and 'frosting' a heart-shaped slice of bread with peanut butter for my mum before sticking a candle in it and taking it to her. 

"So when I walked into the Wyckoff Center for Lovefest and the first thing that greeted me were the heart-shaped cookies, I could feel the memories of this beautiful day brimming in my eyes. I have always celebrated Valentine’s Day by proxy — first through my parents, and this year through Lovefest, which was an open invitation to celebrate the day in a way that honors various forms of accessing and acknowledging our own love alongside the transformational and inspiring love of others.  

"For me, it brought me back to my parents’ kitchen, where love was being exalted in silly and joyous ways through music and frosted goodies. Although I participated in a little bit of everything, the chair massage was my favorite experience because not only was it relaxing, but it also felt like a moment to receive tangible, embodied care, like the way my dad recognized my mom. The experience was tremendously grounding; it was really the frosting on the cookie for me!"

- Anesu Mukombiwa ’24 

Respect 

Lovefest 2024 Poster

David Salinas ’25 created this artwork for Lovefest.

"One of the most important themes of Lovefest is not only the love you give to others, but the love you give yourself. It’s something I kept in mind during my sketching process. And as someone who was raised, taught, loved, and inspired by strong Black women, I wanted to capture their everlasting presence, especially within the Wykoff Center and what it stands for."

- David Salinas ’25 

Commitment and Trust  

President Marc Conner speaks to other Lovefest attendees.

President Marc Conner showed his support for the Skidmore tradition.

"Lovefest is a new tradition at Skidmore, but it’s already one of my favorites. Of course, we include the more traditional elements of the day, like giving valentines and flowers, but we’re also invested in the philosophical aspect, and it has a health and wellness component, too.  

"This year’s event was informed by philosophers of love, like bell hooks. At Lovefest, attendees get to consider how we think about love in our community. So it has a light-hearted Valentine's Day feeling to it, but that is accompanied by a recognition of the very core of the human experience: We are all seeking that sense of loving and being loved. Really, it’s a tradition that honors the commitment that we have to one another on campus, in the community of trust that we are continuously building at Skidmore."

- Marc C. Conner, President  

‌Open and honest Communication 

Three students make valentines.

Members of the Skidmore community were invited to make valentines celebrating their family, friends, and other loved ones.

"Love is a spectrum, and it takes different forms for everyone. This year’s Lovefest celebration highlighted that idea, calling everyone to notice the importance of love in our everyday lives — not just our romantic experiences.  

"The arts and crafts table provided students with opportunities to make cards, collages, and all sorts of crafts. My friends and I made cards for each other to show our care for one another. On my friend's cards, I drew their pets, knowing just how special their furry companions were to them.  

"Other students were making art for their loved ones as well, ranging from cards to posters with heart-shaped collages. Art allows people to express their love, whatever form that may take. Cards for families, friends, and partners are a thoughtful way to communicate your care and appreciation for someone through a gift that they can cherish forever."  

- Grace Mahon ’26 

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