The mind behind the notes of positivity posted across campus

Beth Beaudry, Student Life Editor

Guests visiting the University of New Haven’s campus may be surprised to see sticky notes placed across buildings, light fixtures and furniture, but to many students, seeing these small messages of encouragement has become a regular occurrence.

Sophomore forensic psychology major Mary Lippa anonymously began this project in 2019, evolving into the Recognized Student Organization (RSO), Happy UNewHaven. She wrote inspirational messages such as, “You are loved,” “You are not alone” and “Start the day with a [smile].” Other sticky notes offer phone numbers to suicide hotlines and additional information on mental health.

Junior criminal justice major Ashley Price said that when she first heard of Happy UNewHaven, she thought it was a great idea.

“I love seeing quotes posted around campus, it definitely helps to brighten my day,” said Price. “I feel it also boosts the positivity on campus, which is something we all need right now.”

Lippa started writing the sticky notes after her therapist advised her to find ways to make other people smile. She said that mental health has always been an important topic in her life, and she wanted to raise awareness on the subject and help to spread positivity. She attempted this project in high school, but that her peers did not respond as kindly to the notes. She knew that she wanted to try again in college, and was overwhelmed with positive reactions.

At first, however, there were many questions as to how she could post the notes on school property. Lippa said that one day she had gone out to post the notes, and was stopped by a facilities worker who told her she was not allowed to leave the notes around campus.

For verification on the issue, Lippa called the vice president of facilities, who told her it was not an issue to post these notes around campus.

With permission from facilities, as well as multiple suggestions that she turn the project into a RSO, Lippa decided to take her work to the Center for Student, Engagement, Leadership and Orientation (CSELO).

On Sept. 19, 2019, Lippa posted on the Happy UNewHaven Instagram that she had initiated the process of becoming an RSO. Lippa finally introduced herself as the creator of the project, as she had run the account under the alias ‘M.’

The announcement was written on a series of sticky notes, one reading, “This RSO will focus on spreading positivity & warmth, and on breaking stigmas, especially, but not only, involving mental health and suicide.”

The organization had some difficulty starting, as COVID-19 hit during the early process of becoming an RSO. Now, the organization is known for the sticky notes they put up in addition to the discussions they hold on mental health.

“I received a lot of positive feedback from the sticky notes and so far I’ve received positive feedback for meetings and the topics that we discuss,” said Lippa. She said that many students thank her for beginning the project.

“On a college campus where there are many stressed-out students and faculty, I believe seeing the sticky notes posted around campus gives a positive and reassuring feel,” said freshman hospitality and tourism management major, Emily Smidt, who has also expressed interest in joining the organization. “We live in a world where we can all use more positive affirmations than ever before.”

Price said, “The organization is definitely achieving their goal of making the campus happy even if only for a few minutes in the day.”

Students interested in joining Happy UNewHaven can attend meetings on Tuesday at 5:30. More information can be found on Charger Connection.