Campus Cursive connects students across campus through letter writing

With midterms around the corner, it’s easy to feel isolated and lonely. Imagine in such a moment, while you’re slouching towards your next cup of coffee, you find a letter.

The envelope says, “Hey, stranger,” so you open it.

Someone took the time to write to you personally, to encourage you to keep going. You stand up just a little straighter and wonder who took the time to write you. That someone might be part of Ottawa’s newest club, Campus Cursive.

Natania Abebe, a second-year student at the U of O and founder of Campus Cursive, says the founding of the club was completely spontaneous.

“Campus Cursive is the brainchild of an organization called More Love Letters,” she says. “I saw a TED Talk by the person who founded it and then I just went on the website and decided to found a chapter. Just like that.”

Her idea is to “revive the act of compassion.” To do so, she emailed all of the students in one of her classes, although she didn’t know anyone in the class, and asked if anyone was interested in starting the club.

Two girls responded: Emma Grant, who is now the letters coordinator and Lisa Dang, who is responsible for public relations.

Campus Cursive is now an official Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) club. The drop-in meetings run every Tuesday from 2:30 to 5 p.m. in the Jock Turcot University Centre, room 206. Students get together to write positive and anonymous letters they will then hide anywhere on campus.

“It’s a new and creative way to help out people in your community” says Grant. “It doesn’t matter how busy you are because it doesn’t take a lot of time. If you can only come twice a semester, but it’s important for you to help people how you can, then this is good.”

Abebe believes the letters can also help promote school spirit on campus.

“It’s hopefully something that will unify the school a little more,” she says. “It could build a common thread through all departments on campus. It’s not just exclusive to a few individuals.”

When students know about someone who is going through a dark time, they can email Campus Cursive and the group will get together. After Grant has told them about the request, she says that everyone in the group “writes a short, sweet letter to said person.”

She then bundles up the envelopes and addresses them to that person, with a note telling them who sent the request.

This semester, the club is focused on making itself known, but next year, the exec hopes to create a pen pal program and send more snail mail. The club hopes to have more writers in order to hide as many letters as possible across campus.

“I really hope that all people from all faculties and programs will come to our meetings and write letters for us,” Dang says. “We just hope that if we start putting letters out there, we’ll make people’s day a little better.”