GRC aspires to redefine campus dating culture
Rachel O'Grady | Tuesday, December 2, 2014
The Gender Relations Center (GRC) intends to spend the first week of December redefining the dating culture at the University of Notre Dame through constructive conversation, social media campaigns and featured speakers.
“Notre Dating Week is a way to remind college kids that there’s a fun place between the ‘ring by spring’ and casual hookup mentalities,” junior Annie Kuster said.
Kuster, an anthropology and international economics major, is one of the coordinators of this year’s event, as well as a peer educator at the GRC.
“The GRC and FIRE Starters (GRC peer educators focused on Finding Identity, Relationships and Equality) want to debunk this myth that you have to already be boyfriend/girlfriend-dating to go on dates,” she said. “A lot of the week is just a focus on what it means to be in or start a healthy relationship of any degree.”
Another FIRE starter and coordinator, senior Amanda Peña, said she is excited to see how students respond over the course of the week to the events, most of which focus on breaking the ice and moving beyond the so-called friend zone.
“There seems to be a culture on campus where students feel there are only two options when it comes to relationships: super serious or some vague, undefined fling,” Peña said. “This week, I think the GRC is hoping to open up the dialogue about the different levels of building relationships — from new friendships to getting students comfortable with the language of dating to entering and maintaining healthy relationships.”
To supplement the week’s events, the GRC will keep a blog all week proposing some creative and primarily off-campus date ideas for prospective couples, junior Connor Hayes said.
“One of my favorite parts of the week is the date blog run by a few FIRE Starters at the GRC,” Hayes said. “… Given that most students rarely think to go on dates off-campus, I think the blog could be a really unique resource for students.”
Hayes said he joined the GRC as a FIRE Starter hoping to change the dialogue after noticing a general unwillingness to talk about gender and sexuality issues on campus.
“Notre Dating week, I think, helps create a dialogue on campus surrounding these issues, or at the very least encourages people to begin critically thinking about the relationship culture on campus,” Hayes said.
Regina Gesicki, assistant director of Educational Initiatives at the GRC, said she is particularly excited to attend a talk on “the friendzone” tonight at 8 p.m. in 106 O’Shaughnessy.
“This interactive talk presented by Emmanuel Cannady of the Gender Relations Center will provide an opportunity to think about common personal and social barriers to dating that might exist at Notre Dame,” Gesicki said. “Students who attend will have a chance to debunk well-worn myths and misconceptions about dating in general and specifically at ND.
“Yes, it’s a challenge, and it can be awkward, but it’s important to have authentic conversations about this topic if we’re going to change the dating climate on our campus.”