SMILE’s Hearts for Campus Returns

A printed message on a heart is hung on a tree outside of the Flag Building. // Photo by Taylor Gray Student Publications

Once again Tech’s SMILE club is holding their Hearts for Campus event, hanging inspiring messages on trees across campus to welcome students, faculty, and staff to the new school year.

SMILE, which stands for Spreading Messages In Love & Encouragement, is a student organization that seeks to uplift all parts of the campus community and get people involved in many different ways. Continuing their project from last year, Hearts for Campus is an initiative to welcome everyone back to Tech for the fall semester.

For the past few weeks SMILE has been hanging white and gold hearts on trees around campus, with each heart having an inspiring message from someone in the Tech community on them. These hearts offer words of encouragement for the new school year or note what Tech means to the person that submitted the message.

“[It’s] a way that we can make people get excited about coming back to campus and give people this feeling of involvement before they even arrive,” said Heather Fleming, ID ’23 and current president of SMILE. The relatively new organization formed just before the COVID-19 pandemic began, and Fleming noted that the initiative last year was started to “physically [and] visually show community on campus.”

Fleming said that the hearts last year allowed those not returning to campus to have something waiting for them when they came back, and the great response to the event prompted them to repeat it this year. She cites how many people reached out with their experiences of the hearts making them smile, and the organization wanted to start the annual tradition that embodies their mission.

SMILE has been busy hanging up the messages all over campus, and has seen an increase in submissions since last year.

“This year we’ve received over 450 to 500 messages so far, and put up probably 900 to 1000 hearts at this point around campus,” Fleming said, “and we will continue to be putting them up and receiving messages throughout the next couple of weeks.” She said SMILE would accept messages until Aug. 30 and the hearts will likely last through Labor Day weekend.

The hearts are hung at many different locations around campus, and have a variety of messages on them. “It’s 4.0 season, we got this,” said an incoming student on one heart. “I look forward to the spontaneous adventures and countless memories yet to be shared this upcoming semester with the closest people in my life,” wrote a third-year student on another.

Other messages have members of the Tech community reflecting on their experiences at the Institute.

“My favorite Tech memory was my first time swimming in the campanile. It was so spontaneous and such a nice surprise!” said a fourth-year student.

A faculty or staff member noted the importance of Tech in shaping their personal life, saying “My spouse and I were forced to sit next to each other in the Ferst Center during our grad student orientation. 2 phds, 2 kids, and 13 years later, we are both happily together and working for the university.”

SMILE has a number of other events planned for later in the semester, all focused around bringing the Tech community together and offering appreciation for all roles on campus.

For now, students can apply to join the club and can submit messages for Hearts for Campus through the link in their Instagram bio.