Traditions That Work: Valentine’s Day in Benzing Residence

Written by Elizabeth Vietor

I understood the work that goes into throwing an event at Benzing Residence after spending most of a Saturday afternoon whipping up buttercream frosting to spread on dozens of tiny heart-shaped cookies. The other RAs and I were prepping for “Real Love is More than a Valentine,” the dorm’s annual Valentine’s Day event.

The idea for this event and many others came from Sue Postle, Benzing’s much-loved former house director. She was known for her detail-oriented leadership style, which resulted from a desire to appreciate every resident in the dorm. Her legacy lives on in the events she created—and the detailed recipes and lists she left behind.

“Real Love” and most other Benzing events follow a simple structure: home-cooked food and low-pressure ways to build or strengthen friendships. For this event, that means Valentine’s-themed desserts and a speaker—often a recent graduate—with a message for the women in the dorm. Abigail Trouwborst, who has been an RA in Benzing for the last three years, said “Real Love is More than a Valentine” is her favorite event of the year. “The presentations have been effective at speaking insightfully into where young women are,” she said. “They’ve done it in a way that is relevant but not trite.”

Abigail added that the small-scale, women-only nature of this event allows the RA team and the speakers to prioritize the people there. I can attest to this. Last year, as a resident, the RA team invited my roommate and me to help them cook the food for their fall event. While I was there, they informed me of how indispensable my services were, even though I didn’t know the RAs well at that point.

This personal touch is common here. The events don’t change much year to year—Benzing is a dorm that values traditions that work.

The leisurely, hospitable atmosphere of this and every Benzing event is what makes them so memorable and makes me want to keep coming back. They’re not about being glamorous, or being completely original, or even having record attendance rates. They’re about feeling relaxed and welcome, as you would in a family. In my book, that’s worth any amount of baking the day before.


Elizabeth Vietor is a junior Latin major with an affinity for thrift shops, butter, and scrunchies. She hails from Phoenix, Arizona, originally, but now that she’s here, doesn’t know how she existed for so long without seeing the leaves change every fall.


Published in March 2019