April 26, 2012
College social life is often characterized by a “hook-up culture.” In essence, this entails one-night stands, an absence of deep emotional connections and a large amount of alcohol. Given the difficulty of meeting people outside of academic or party settings, many college students resort to hooking up (anything from kissing to sex) in lieu of a positive environment to meet potential partners. Last Thursday at Hamilton, though, Emily Palen ’14 and Ashley Williams ’14 tried to create this missing environment in the form of the College’s first speed dating event.
Williams “figured there had to be some other way to meet new people in a fun, sober setting, and speed dating seemed like the perfect way to do it…the goal is simply to get Hamilton students to meet one another and have real conversations. We wanted to bring back some semblance of a dating scene for those of us who want to see more than just a hookup culture.”
The idea, which the two originally conceived on the Posse Plus retreat, took off, garnering them the financial support of the Sadove Programming Board and the organizational support of Noelle Niznik. After much planning and publicity, speed dating took over the Sadove conference room.
While the crowd of over 65 mingled outside of the conference room, the soothing acoustic tunes of Andrew Hove ’15 matched the sensual mood of the chattering speed daters to a tee.
The speed daters, who represented a healthy slice of Hamilton’s demographic, with their intermingling of khaki-clad fraternity brothers and beret-wearing darksiders, came to the event for myriad reasons. Some came to support their friends, others came to find a potential relationship and still others came to improve their small-talk acumen. Whatever their motive, everybody certainly had an open mind toward the experience, letting go of any preconceived notions of what speed dating ought or ought not be.
When the doors to the conference room opened, the gentlemen entered the room first, seating themselves on long tables peppered with candles. The females followed shortly thereafter, gingerly choosing which male to begin their speed dating venture with. After each male and female had been accounted for, MC Anthony Mathieu ’12 kicked off the festivities by giving a conversation-starting question for each pair (“Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr?” was the first.) Thereafter, the room exploded in lively conversation for (a rather quick) two minutes, before Mathieu called for the females to move down one seat. Speed dating thus continued in this manner, with a conversation-starter provided by Mathieu and an animated conversation—often between two people who had never met each other—immediately following for two minutes. Many times, though, the conversation would quickly veer from the planned topic, as pairs discussed their majors, hometowns or favorite spots on campus. After about 20 minutes, a break was taken before the start of another 20 minute round.
While the two-minute time frame was hardly sufficient to get to know somebody in depth, it nonetheless gave two people a chance to decide if their partner was someone worth seeing again. If either person thought so, they wrote their partner’s name on a sheet; if both thought so, Palen and Williams would e-mail the two potential lovers the next day with each other’s phone number.
To most who attended, speed dating proved a fun and novel undertaking. “I came just for for sh*ts and giggles. But it turned out to be a lot of fun!” said Benjamin Pena ’12.
Kaye Kagaoan ’15 concurred: “At first it was kind of awkward, but I definitely enjoyed meeting all these new people…It’s a shame some of them are seniors.”
Williams and Palen both agreed the event was a great success, and they look forward to expanding speed dating at Hamilton in the future.
“We do plan on making this a regular event next semester since our trial run went so well. We hope to attract a larger portion of the student body including more of the LGBT community. It is such a fun event, and we want to make sure everyone is included,” said Williams afterwards.
With passionate leaders like these at Hamilton—and a whole host of students willing to support them—it is likely that further steps will be taken on the Hill to provide new opportunities for meeting partners, besides Annex and Bundy dining hall weekend parties.