So you’re having “one of those days” again, as you step out of Walton and make your way towards McInnis, when suddenly you look up and are welcomed with open arms to a free hug. One can only dream, right? Well dream no more students of Eastern, because now every Tuesday and Thursday between 10 and 11:30 a.m. you can have a free hug thanks to first year Jon Young, better known as “Big Jon,” and his partner in crime, sophomore Matt Milford.
How did this unique tradition begin? “Well one day last September, Matt and I were just hanging out in the basement of the library after class, and we were just being silly and greeting everyone that walked by. Then we got the idea to do it outside, so we sat down at one of the benches in front of McInnis and started offering people free hugs,” Young said.
They agreed that it was a huge success and decided to take the idea and run with it. From then on they’ve faithfully provided free hugs twice a week and have even made “free hugs” signs.
In this type of situation, one might think that a possible reason for this activity would be to pick up a few hot girls, but the two confirmed that it has nothing to do with that at all.
“We don’t do this to creep out people or meet women, but we notice that even when people don’t take a hug, it still makes them smile and feel good. We’ll see people looking sad and if they take a hug, they can sometimes have a better day,” Milford said.
As one observes this activity taking place, he or she will notice a variety of reactions that people had as they walked by. First you have your typical stop, contemplate, and then think, “Eh sure, I’ll take a hug.” Second you have your see, giggle, and walk away kind of person. Lastly, you have those few that coldly walk by pretty quickly and pretend not to see anything at all.
After five months of partaking in this idea, the boys came up with a clever motto which they were pretty proud of.
“Our motto is pretty unique, but we like it. We like to claim ourselves as Hugging Unconditionally Many People. It’s an acronym,” Young said.
Milford and Young have become rather well known around campus for their attempts at giving students a chance for a brighter day, and they plan on continuing to do so throughout the semester.
If it’s raining outside though, don’t expect to see them. “Because nobody likes a soggy hug,” Young said.