The CSU ballroom buzzed with nervous excitement on 7 p.m. Tuesday as students lined up to try their luck at Speed Dating, an activity hosted by the Student Events Team. Some had obviously styled their hair for the occasion or taken extra care with their makeup, in hopes of forming a lasting spark with another student. Others came more casually, simply in search of friends in their new home.
As each student approached the table at the ballroom entrance, they received an ID number so they could remain anonymous throughout the event. They also got a Tinder-themed piece of paper with a chart to mark their interest in the other people they meet. As they filed into the ballroom, they chose seats at tables with four chairs, two on each side. At first, many sat alone, or in quiet groups of two, looking around with an air of expectancy. But the line outside lengthened, and at 7:15, there were still new participants swarming inside. By the time the event got rolling, over 130 students were deep in conversation.
In a round of speed dating, students had three minutes and thirty seconds to get to know the person across the table from them. After the time ran out, they recorded their partner’s ID number and checkmarked whether they were not interested, interested in friendship, or interested in more than friendship. Then the Student Events team members told them which way to rotate so everyone was sitting across from someone new, and another round began. To help with conversation, each table had a list of prompts, such as, “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” and “What is your ideal date?”
“It’s just a good way [to] capture the new students trying to meet new people,” said Brandin Schmidt, senior at MSU and president of the Student Events Team. Sure enough, the activity was definitely weighted with freshmen and international students, both groups searching for their “niche” of friends during Welcome Week. However, there were upper classmen present as well.
Schmidt said the team’s idea of a speed dating event stemmed from doing similar icebreakers at their own meetings. MNSU has done similar events in the past, but the last record of a speed dating event was five years ago, and there are no evaluations of how students hosted or performed. “We’re testing the waters again this year,” said Schmidt. “It’s definitely a revival of [speed dating].”
The friendship aspect of the event removed some of the awkwardness in finding a potential date. “I’m from Virginia, and I’m just hoping for friends here,” said student #16. Most weren’t too concerned with finding the love of their life, but took a casual approach and remained open to anything. “Whatever happens, happens,” said #25 with a shrug.
During the coming week, the Student Events Team will go through all the paper slips and email students who have mutual interest with someone they spoke to in the ballroom. Thus, the true results of their event remain to be seen. However, possibilities are bright. Judging by the numerous conversations and laughter that happened in the ballroom, a flood of new couples on campus would be no surprise.