Between classes, extracurricular activities and weekends on campus, students meet many different people over their four-or-more-year stint at college. With it being that time of the year — Valentine’s Day — students single and taken weighed in on the rocky terrain that is the dating scene in college today.
Students agreed that the biggest difference when it comes to dating today versus in their parents’ generation is undoubtedly technology. That’s a given, but has it had a positive or negative effect on the ability to find and keep a relationship?
Joseph “Sam” Rubaker, a sophomore biomedical engineering student, said that while social media outlets allow students to share pictures of themselves and their significant other with their friends and family, it can get a little weird when the amount of likes and comments begins to affect how they feel about their relationship.
“I personally don’t care and neither does my girlfriend, but I would imagine some people would take that to heart,” he said.
Others commented on the positives of dating today that were not possible for past generations. Katelyn Miles, a freshman occupational therapy student, said the ease of communication has helped her maintain a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend who attends a different university.
“I love that I am able to contact my boyfriend whenever I want to,” she said. “Him being only a call or a text away puts my mind at ease.”
Technology has also made dating easier for single people looking for a relationship. Meeting new people is only a few swipes away on dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble.
Kennedy Walters, a sophomore psychology and criminal justice major, said that there’s always a chance to find true connection on dating apps, but acknowledged the stigma that often goes along with this and said that she’d be particularly hesitant to tell her family about meeting someone online.
“I think people are always like, ‘Oh, you met him on Tinder? That’s kind of weird,’” she said.
But just because parents can’t understand the new generation’s obsession with online dating doesn’t mean that it’s not becoming increasingly common. Leanne Casserlie, a junior physician assistant major, admitted that her experience studying abroad shaped the way she views meeting people online on dating apps.
“When I was in Australia, everybody had them,” she said. “It doesn’t have as negative of a connotation as it does in America, and a lot of people just use it as a positive thing.
“Even if you were on Tinder, it didn’t mean you were just on there to hook up or necessarily date. It was just people you meet and get to know more and go have a beer with.”
Other students have been lucky enough to have found love on campus without the use of dating apps, like Donoven Chase and Anna Swick.
Chase, a junior history major, and Swick, a senior social work major, initially met through class and also attended an Alternative Break Service Trip together before they officially started dating.
“Here’s the thing – we’re like 90 [year-olds],” Chase said in regards to the couple’s relative lack of familiarity with the online dating fads of today.
Meeting someone to go on a date with is only the first step, though. Many students admitted that they almost always look up someone online to find out a little more about them before committing to a date with them.
Casserlie said she fully supports those who choose to do a little independent research before going out with someone who they’ve only recently met, primarily as a safety protocol.
“If they don’t have [social media] then it’s not a big deal,” she said. “I mean, I might dig a little more, maybe ask somebody about them.
“But because [Facebook] is a resource, I will use it, just for safety, especially if you meet them on a dating app.”
But whether students meet out in the wild or on the internet, they all still share one of the biggest drawbacks of dating in college: limited methods of transportation.
Luckily, Police and Safety’s Knight Watch van has been a more than welcome addition to campus this year. However, not everybody agrees that it’s acceptable to use it to pick up your date.
Chase and Swick both commute, but they didn’t mind giving their opinion on the matter, both having many friends who utilize the new service.
“Not to pick them up, but to take them home…” Swick said. “Like, ‘I want you to be safe, here’s the Knight Watch, be OK,’ not to pick them up though.”
Chase was quick to offer a different point of view, though, explaining how the van ride could actually be charming if you played your cards right.
“Are you going to pop out of the van with flowers?” he asked. “That would make it better.
“But if you’re like, ‘Hey, babe, they’re gonna pick you up in an hour, let’s go out,’ that’s not a good idea.”
Other men of Gannon seemed to agree. Jordan Fuller, a senior marketing and supply chain management major, said that if you know what you’re doing, a trip in the Knight Watch could be memorable.
“There might be a text that says ‘Your chariot awaits’ or something like that,” he said. “And I’d be outside a gray passenger van that has a humongous knight on it.”
When students have found a date, done a sufficient background check and have scheduled transportation, the biggest question is always where to go. As for the best place to go on a date in Erie, the response was overwhelmingly mutual — Presque Isle.
Rubaker said that hanging out at the beach is one of his and his girlfriend’s favorite things to do in the summer.
“That was our first date,” Rubaker said.
Chase and Swick agreed, adding that the local Erie Art Museum is also a great place to go during the winter months when it’s too cold to get your tan on at the peninsula. The museum offers free admission every Wednesday and offers a student discount the rest of the week.
“A bad idea, though, is going to the movies or something like that, because if you’re not spending time connecting, then what are you doing?” Chase said.
Regarless of how students choose to navigate the dating scene today, one thing’s for sure — it can be challenging. But that isn’t keeping anyone from trying, even if that means attempting to use the Knight Watch van to sweep their date off their feet