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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Life + Arts

Students compete to become UH’s best hugger

Free hugs anyone?

A campus-wide hugging competition organized by the Student Program Board concludes today.

Competing students carry signs that say ‘Free Hugs’ and receive one point for every student hugged. Hugs from faculty members are worth five points each. The winner will receive a $25 Visa gift card as well as the title of ‘University of Houston’s Best Hugger.’

Competitor Neha Dixit, a biochemistry and psychology junior, had earned 30 points by noon Wednesday.

‘(The competition) initiates people and allows people to help people that they wouldn’t normally talk to,’ Dixit said. ‘It’s just really cool that the Student Program Board is taking the initiative to involve us in spreading the love throughout campus.’

Julia Babcock, associate professor and co-director of the center for couples therapy at UH, said that the event would most likely succeed if there is no pressure on the students and if they’re given an option to choose whether they want the hug or not.

‘It all depends,’ Babcock said. ‘Culture differences and gender differences can affect greatly on the desire of the hug.’

Babcock said that most hugs are intimate and that not everyone will feel comfortable being spoken to by a total stranger, let alone hugged.

However, Dixit found that most students gladly accepted a free hug.

‘Sometimes they’ll just be walking around the lobby and you’ll just go up to them and be like ‘Hey!” Dixit said. ‘They’re very nice, very sweet.’

While some students willingly accept a friendly competition to hug strangers, others such as Babcock prefer to pass.

‘I would think it’s cute, but I would not participate,’ Babcock said.

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