Brunchin’ with the besties: Women’s Center celebrates platonic love

Valentine’s Day is focused on celebrating one’s love for their significant other by gifting candy and greeting cards donned in hearts. Last Friday, Minnesota State’s Women’s Center held its annual pre-Valentine’s Day celebration; previously known as “Galentine’s Day,” now “Best Friend Friday.”

The original event was a collaboration with HerCampus and inspired by the television show “Parks and Recreation” and main character Leslie Knope’s pre-Valentine’s Day celebration with her closest female friends. Liz Steinborn-Gourley, director of the Women’s Center, said the Knope character’s iconic waffle obsession inspired the brunch theme, and said the original event was “really successful,” with high attendance and participation.

In accordance with the “Parks and Recreation” theme, the event had brunch food catered and provided crafts including frosting heart-shaped cookies and making “affirmation jars” filled with positives notes.

According to Steinborn-Gourley, the Women’s Center changed the event’s name to make it more inclusive and because there are negative historical connotations associated with the word “gal,” having been used as a derogatory word for Black women to infantilize them, similar to “boy,” used for Black men.

The event also looked different this year because it was the first year since 2020 that it was held in person. Steinborn-Gourley said they “snuck one in right before we shut down with COVID,” and in 2021 they made a socially-distanced version with to-go boxes and gift bags, encouraging people to pick them up and share them with people in their “COVID pods,” or the people closest to them during the period where isolation and distancing was critical.

“I think Valentine’s Day is just fun to program around. Kids in elementary school build the box, then you make the cards and there’s all that excitement,” Steinborn-Gourley said. “Also February is a rough month for us. It’s dark, it’s cold, we’re in the thick of the semester. So recognizing the value of platonic friendship and the love that we have for the people around us that we’re not romantically involved with is really, really crucial.”

Two of the attendees were Erin Schreifeis and Isabella Hill. The pair attended together and each frosted heart-shaped sugar cookies. 

“I think it’s very inclusive to have people come and have fun and celebrate the day even though they don’t have a significant other,” Schreifeis said. 

Bill said she feels the most important type of friend is “someone you can rely on,” Isabella Hill. “Friend love is the best love.”

Header photo: Crafts and sweet treats drew in a number of students Friday for a day to celebrate platonic love. Inspired by “Parks and Recreation,” the event brought old friends closer together while allowing students to make new ones. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)

Write to Carly Bahr at

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