Published: Feb. 13, 2018

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Valentine’s Day can be a polarizing holiday. Even for those who are in relationships, there’s pressure to spend money on gifts that can seem impersonal and insincere. This year, however, a group of CU Boulder students are working to make Valentine’s Day more meaningful by bringing a new campaign to campus.

Featuring the hashtag #RespectHer, the campaign was created as a passion project by several female advertising professionals—including College of Media, Communication and Information alumna Brynna Aylward (AdvertSoc’11), who is a copywriter at BBDO Energy in Chicago. It’s built on the idea of reframing Valentine’s Day as a time to respect women and fight for their rights and equality.

Through the campaign, people are encouraged to give their loved ones something more meaningful than chocolate, jewelry or flowers. The group’s website,, allows people to personalize a card and then donate to six selected organizations that promote women’s rights and fight issues like sexual harassment and assault. 

“After #MeToo and #TimesUp, this is a call to action,” said Alec Parezo, a senior studying strategic communication who is leading campaign efforts on campus. “It’s time for individuals to cross that line and issue a vow of respect.”

In addition to visiting the group’s website, Parezo and fellow students from departments across campus will run a pop-up shop on Valentine’s Day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the University Memorial Center. The students will pass out cards and hope to have an area where people can write about and discuss what respect for women actually looks like. They also plan to create a video of female students describing what respect means to them, as well as an art installation, Parezo said.

“The whole idea is to tell women we’re listening,” he said. “Respect is about listening and being heard.”