Weekly Spotlight: To Write Love on Her Arms at FAU

Check out the organization dedicated to supporting those suffering from mental issues


To Write Love on Her Arms at FAU hosts social events such as bowling, beach events and more. Photo Courtesy of Andrew Archibald, club president.

Brittany Ferrendi, Features Editor

Welcome to the Weekly Spotlight, where you can learn about on-campus organizations in one easy place.

This week we spoke with Andrew Archibald, president of To Write Love on Her Arms’ FAU chapter. The organization promotes hope and peace and provides support for mental health, suicide prevention and more.

UP: How did a TWLOHA chapter at FAU begin?

AA: It started last summer when I was an orientation leader. I have always loved TWLOHA as an organization — I have a lot of past experiences with them — and I finally found a university chapter program for them. I was only able to form it because my coworkers through my job helped create the framework and ideas for what it could accomplish. Through that, we worked together and created it totally grassroots style with our boss being our advisor.

UP: Were there any big challenges in the creation of the FAU chapter?

AA: Generating interest. If you ever look, there’s not really any organization on campus that tackles mental health and suicide (as a student organization) so getting people involved was really hard at the get go. A lot of people have taboos about talking about this sort of stuff, but it’s gotten better since. There was also inexperience as all of us were new to the concept of leading an organization at large

UP: What has your organization done to increase awareness about mental health and make it less taboo around campus?

AA: We have meetings that cover a spectrum of topics every week, from hope to suicide. It’s super varied and lets us have open conversations about things because we’re getting close as a community. We share our experiences from the week and make sure our meetings have a feeling of community to make it easier.

We also have events where we openly share our biggest fears, dreams, and hopes. We aim to make it a very talkable experience. We have an open mic night coming up to further showcase that.

UP: Is it like a support group?

AA: It’s partially a support group, but not as much. We don’t aim to be counselors or anything, that’s not our purpose. Our purpose is to bring … issues out of the darkness and encourage and inspire others to talk about the harder things in life and to get others. It’s all about self-empowering and raising hope.

UP: Have you had any major success stories so far as a result of your FAU chapter?

AA: We planted a bunch of personalized positive letters all around campus during finals week, so I like to imagine that they helped bring people’s spirits up. Our Hope ‘N’ Mic night is coming up next Friday and it looks to be our biggest event yet. It’s been in the works for quite a long time.

During tabling events on campus, students wrote out messages to those who were in need. Photo courtesy of Andrew Archibald, club president.
During tabling events on campus, students wrote out messages to those who were in need. Photo courtesy of Andrew Archibald, club president.

UP: Can you tell us more about your Hope ‘N’ Mic Night?

AA: Our Hope ‘N’ Mic Night is an open mic concert we will have next Friday night. It’s open mic in tradition, however, those who perform — anything from music, poetry, even art — talk about their respective pieces, like what led to its creation, etc. How this works in the end is we have an environment where we can have talks … about potentially real problems and let everyone know that even if they’re a mega-talented performer, we’re still human inside.

We’ll be raising money at the event to donate directly to TWLOHA, which in turn donates it to treatment centers, so it can be a charity, if you will. It’s going to be next Friday [March 4] at 7 p.m. at the Grand Palm Room in the Student Union.

UP: What other events are in the works?

AA: Yeah, we have a couple of events in the near future. March is TWLOHA’s 10th anniversary as a national organization, so we hope to celebrate it. We are planning on participating in the Out of the Darkness suicide prevention walk, some form of birthday celebration, as well as trying to go up to Orlando on April 2 for a TWLOHA anniversary show.

UP: Do you have weekly meetings?

AA: It’s not a perfect system but we’re still working to establish ourselves for long term. We meet weekly from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. usually. Room tends to vary but stays within the Student Union mostly. A day or two before the meeting I like to send an email out to everybody with the details of the meeting, such as subject or location.

People who are interested usually can find out through social media or OwlCentral. Our meeting notifications are public so people are able to see when events are scheduled to happen, even with the location.

UP: How many active members does your organization have?

AA: We have about 10-15 people who actively contribute, and a larger group of those who aren’t able to come all the time. We even have a member studying abroad in Portugal who still contributes ideas.

UP: Is there anything you want new and prospective members to know?

AA: I’d want them to know that we’re working to create a lasting framework for this organization. I know I can’t be the president forever, but we are working to make sure future leaders are going to always have a group to go to. I want them to know that TWLOHA@FAU is a safe place for talking about real issues, and that anyone is allowed to come, and to bring friends.

We’re working hard to try to make a great experience for prospective members, I ask that they try to join in and help build a legacy here on campus. There’s tons of potential.

Brittany Ferrendi is the features editor of the University Press. If you would like to contact her regarding this or other stories, she can be reached at [email protected].