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Main Squeeze: Transfer Student Hugs Strangers
Scott Longhofer is an introvert’s worst nightmare.
Every Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon, Longhofer, public affairs and community service junior, has vowed to stand outside of the Union near the eagle statue, with a handwritten sign offering free hugs to passers-by on their way to and from class. He also occasionally doles out words of encouragement or a few easy laughs, all part of his larger plan to “spread a little love.”
“I think a free hug for anyone could make their day better,” Longhofer said.
This is his first semester at UNT after having transferred from North Central Texas College in Corinth, Texas.
“I’m new to this school, and this probably is the easiest way meet people,” he said. “It’s hard for a lot of people to break that social barrier to do something like this. A lot of people aren’t used to it.”
Danny Sanders, an employee at Baptist Student Ministries, got one of Longhofer’s hugs as he and a group of students made their way through campus.
“It was the best hug I’ve had in a while,” Sanders said. “It was a good, solid hug.”
Longhofer said the reception he’s received from the student body to this point has been mostly positive.
“Surprisingly, I’ve gotten way more hugs from girls than guys, which I thought was strange,” he said. “It’s like a 5-to-1 ratio.”
Many students who weren’t willing to hug said that they were late to class or in a rush. One student who identified herself as Emily, a German major, was uncomfortable with the hugging.
“It creeps me out a little bit,” she said. “It’s a little weird.”
He is generally undeterred when someone turns him down for a hug, though he does find it hard to take no for an answer. Walking after those that pass him up and playfully goading them into hugging him is just one of the techniques Longhofer uses to break the ice.
“There’s a lot of people who will make eye contact or maybe smile at me, so once I say something or approach them, they open up and they’re willing to give a hug,” Longhofer said.
Longhofer remains steadfast in his goal of uniting the student body, one hug at a time.
“Wouldn’t it be great if everyone was friends with everyone on campus? That’s the environment I hope to cultivate,” Longhofer said. “Physical touching is one of the best ways to create a bond with others.”