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The Daily Tar Heel

Students embrace their feelings during Polk Place group hug

The event was created by senior Anna Hughes, who changed her Facebook status to “Group hug on quad?” after joking about it with her mom. Her friends liked the idea, so she decided to make it a public Facebook event.

On Wednesday, the event received a large number of attention. Around 600 people said they were interested and over 200 said they were going on the event page.

Hughes said that she did not expect such a high amount of interest.

“It was really nice, however, to see so many people interested,” she said in an email. “I wasn’t the only one who was upset and could really go for a big ol’ hug sesh.”

At noon, Hughes and two of her friends stood in a circle wrapped in the embrace of one another, breaking the bond occasionally to let in a few more huggers.

After 15 minutes, the group had grown to about 30 members. Each said their name and the food item they would be on a menu as they entered the circle.

“It was a lot more loving and pleasurable than I thought it would be,” said sophomore Paige Springman.

She said she was happy that she came to the quad instead of the library.

“Especially during this time, hugs and love are all you really need,” she said.

Jun Chou, senior, said she felt privileged to have this space.

“The quad is my favorite place ever, and hugs are my favorite things. So, it was a perfect union of the two,” she said.

For many of the students in attendance, the event was a reminder that they are not alone.

When students began to leave, Marisa Escolar, an assistant professor of Italian, said her door was always open for students.

For first-year Natalie Daumen, the decision to attend was an emotional one, rooted in her desire to be strong for others.

“Every day, I’m going to have one person that I am going to be strong for,” she said through tears, “I was thinking about the best way I could do it today and remembered that I had seen this on Facebook.”

Carole Fish, a biology major, said she stumbled upon the group hug, but that she felt that it was a great place.

“Everyone was so loving and accepting,” she said. “I feel like a lot of people need that right now. I need that right now.”

Fish’s final words: “There are people out there who do care about you, and they love you no matter what, even if you don’t know them,” she said. “You’re loved no matter where you are.”

@cjheld

swerve@dailytarheel.com

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