Campus Cursive makes its mark on the University

Twenty-three-year-old Hannah Brencher sat down at her computer in New York City on Dec. 7, 2011, and wrote a “love letter” to college students going through finals. To these students, she gave words of encouragement, even suggesting that one day they would miss “the 24/7 sweatpants apparel for at least two weeks,” and reminding them, “It is a book. It is a test. It is a paper. That’s it. That’s all.” She posted the letter to her website and overnight it went viral. Emails came flooding in from college students across the nation who said they cried reading her letter; they couldn’t hold themselves together. For Brencher and her global organization — The World Needs More Love Letters — that was the beginning of the Campus Cursive initiative.

Campus Cursive is the college branch of the organization The World Needs More Love Letters – a volunteer, web-based organization founded by Brencher in September 2011 with the purpose of writing and mailing encouraging letters to those who need them. For Brencher, the popularity of her letter to college students during finals was a “light-bulb moment,” in which she realized, “Things spread on college campuses. That is the powerhouse group.” From there grew the idea of Campus Cursive, and it was launched in September 2012. As of now, more than 100 campuses, including the University, have Campus Cursive chapters that sponsor letter-writing projects throughout the school year.

From Brencher’s standpoint, letter writing is more than just the pen and paper.

“I think it symbolizes intention; I think it symbolizes presence to one another and connection. Letter writing demands your full attention, and a lot of things in society don’t require that of us,” she said. “It is a rare thing that somebody would sit down, take out a pen and paper, and think about what they wanted to write to you.”

Within the first few weeks of this semester, Campus Cursive was launched at the University as a registered student organization. The chapter’s mission is “to spread love and encouragement on campus through handwritten love letters.” Jennifer Kim, campus founder and senior in Media, saw letter writing as particularly helpful when she interned for an advertising agency this summer.

“Sometimes the workload could be stressful, so I was looking for ways to brighten mine and other people’s days,” Kim said.

She began writing letters and leaving them on the desks of her coworkers, saying things like, “have a great weekend, catch up with you Monday” or “good luck on your presentation.” She began to see a change in the way people interacted with her and observed that their smiles became a little brighter. Kim learned that “when people think that other people believe in them, they have a lot more power, they have a lot more confidence.” She hopes to bring this same level of empowerment to campus.

Before school began, Kim got in contact with Angela Yang, intern at More Love Letters and sophomore in Media. Yang helps coordinate between More Love Letters and the Campus Cursive branch, assisting campuses with starting chapters. Yang herself has been an advocate of letter writing ever since she and her best friend had to split up for college.

“We decided instead of just ‘Facebooking’ each other and text messaging, we would write each other letters,” Yang said.

Although she’s not a member of the University’s chapter, Yang helped Kim and five others launch it.

The six Campus Cursive members at the University meet about once a week at coffee shops or in the Union to write “love letters” to be placed around campus. Letters may be found in bathroom stalls, inside newspapers, by water fountains, the Quad, the Undergraduate Library or the Union. In the future, they hope to get sororities involved as a philanthropic opportunity.

This Thursday, Campus Cursive will be lining Lincoln Avenue from Pennsylvania Avenue to Ohio Street with letters in memory of Mimi Liu, the 20-year-old University student who died there in an accident on Oct. 9.

The group hosted two events in the Union this past Monday and Tuesday, which were open to all students wishing to write letters to line the street.

Adrienne Soong, senior in Media, came to the event after seeing a Facebook post about it, she said. She was specifically interested in writing letters for Liu, but expressed how nice the letter writing idea is.

“It’s nice to get a surprise like that; it makes you smile,” Soong said.

Students can be on the lookout for an upcoming event in November in which Campus Cursive will partner with International Justice Mission (IJM) and Carry the Fire to write letters to women who have been affected by sex-trafficking. Around Thanksgiving, they also hope to make “I’m thankful for you” cards and care packages that students can purchase for the holidays.

Students interested in joining Campus Cursive can contact them through their University Campus Cursive Facebook page, where the group will also be posting information about upcoming events.

Bridget can be reached at [email protected]