Campus group promotes ‘compassion, love, empathy’

Encouraging chalk messages popped up around campus Nov. 9, courtesy of the campus chapter of To Write Love on Her Arms.

Henry Kathman, the group’s event coordinator, said he thought of the idea while chalking around campus to promote the upcoming open mic night.

“This was mostly spur of the moment,” the senior said.  “(I thought) ‘I want to be nice, it will make me feel good, it will make other people feel good.”

Zoe Hill, the president of TWLOHA, said from what Kathman told her there were a lot people feeling isolated, scared or upset around that time.

She said as a group they are not affiliated with any political or religious group but the group’s purpose is to reach out to people who are struggling to provide any help or hope they can.

“I really like that you did that,” Hill said to Kathman. “I know I’ve told you 20 times, but I really like (the chalkings).”

Kathman said reaction from his friends and other group members has been positive. He also had a professor tell him that seeing the messages as she walked into the Orr Center for class made her very happy.

The closest the group has come to promoting messages in this way is during Suicide Prevention Week which takes place in September.

Hill said there are people who are going to struggle at any point in their life and the TWLOHA organization wants to be a resource for them.

She said some of the feelings now could be election related, but no matter the cause they want to help.

“The main message is just that I want people to remember compassion, love and empathy,” Kathman said. “Those are three things that regardless of your political stance, regardless of whatever your feelings right now, these are principles that we need to maintain and strive to still have.”

One of the events the group does around this time to help people is its Thanksgiving dinner.

“The holidays are very stressful for a lot of people,” Kathman said. “Not everyone has a happy home to go back to during the break.”

The group encourages people to come out and bring a dish if they’d like to the “community night.”

“ (The dinner is) a happy alternative for the families we make,” Hill said, “as opposed to the family we might not have a choice in.”