Finding love can be a challenging undertaking. It’s no different at Bowdoin, where the dating scene can use a bit of a boost, according to Laurel Varnell ’14, an organizer with Josh Friedman ’15 of this year’s Date-apalooza.
Date-apalooza is the latest Bowdoin incarnation of what used to be known as Date Week or Date Month, an annual tradition at the college to promote healthy relationships and new connections. This year, dating festivities took place over two and a half weeks, and included a range of activities to help students meet new friends or, if they were interested, new partners.
“Our goal behind this is to foster deeper relationships, both dating relationships and friendships,” Varnell said. She’s observed many students on campus fumbling when it comes to striking up new connections, and that she wants those people to not fall back on easy options, such as picking people up in a “dark, sweaty basement. …We realize that’s not the best way to meet people,” she noted, “so we want to create different venues for meeting people.”
The kick-off for Date-apalooza, on Oct. 31 in Jack Magee pub, attracted a crowd of students, including slam poets who recited original love poems at the event. Other events this November included a day when students could send anonymous “flirt” notes to students’ P.O. boxes; an evening of speed dating in the Main Lounge of Moulton; a candlelit dinner for two or four in Daggett Lounge; romantic movies screened by the Bowdoin Film Society; stargazing on the museum steps; and several all-women and all-men discussions about dating and love.
One of the well-attended events was a newlyweds game for Bowdoin professors. Erica Hummel ’16, who attended the event, said eight Bowdoin professors were pitted against each other in an intense competition of wits.The challenge: how well do you know your romantic partner? Contestant couples were Assistant Professor of Romance Languages Allison Cooper and her husband, Associate Professor of Engliah Aaron Kitch, Assistant Professors of, respectively, Government and Legal Studies and Asian Studies Jeffrey and Vyjayanthi Selinger; math professors Jennifer Taback and Thomas Pietraho; and Professor of Neuroscience Richmond Thompson and Visiting Assistant Professor of Film Studies Sarah Childress. Questions ranged from favorite cheeses (Childress goes for Evangeline) to celebrity crushes (Taback, in a shocking twist, likes Vin Diesel), to preferred brand of deodorant (Thompson wears Mitchum). Taback and Pietraho, who met at math camp in high school, crushed the competition to win a $50 gift certificate to Frontier Restaurant in downtown Brunswick.
Downtown restaurants got into the spirit as well. This year, Little Tokyo, Shere Punjab and Frontier offered discounts from 10% to 20% for students who presented a OneCard. Ruben Martinez ’15, who has designed a Bowdoin app for setting up friend dates, added a new option to his online tool for those seeking love. He did this after Date-apalooza organizers approached him about incorporating an online element into their offerings. “It appeals to a different demographic,” Varnell explained.
Most of the events offered this year were new, Varnell continued, such as the evening of stargazing on the Museum of Art steps. Hot chocolate, coffee and cookies were provided and students were encouraged to bring blankets and friends to the quad.
Date-apalooza is coordinated by The Alliance for Sexual Assault Prevention, an umbrella organization made of up representatives from many student groups, such as Peer Health, Safe Space, V-Day and the Bowdoin Student Government.
Although Varnell doesn’t have statistics about how many relationships — romantic or friendly — have been born from past Bowdoin Date Weeks or Date Months, she at least can offer her own personal testimony to its effectiveness. “I met one of my best friends [Greg Rosen ’14] during Date Week [two years ago],” Varnell said. “He asked me to go to the Great Impasta for a friend date. It’s a success story.”
Photos by Erica Hummel ’16