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SMC hosts panel to discuss dating apps

| Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Belles Against Violence Office and Cushwa-Leighton Library co-hosted Swipe Right: A Panel on Dating Apps on Sept. 9 to discuss the usage of Internet dating applications.

Librarian Ula Gaha, who created this event, explained how the panel originated.

ANNA MASON | The Observer

“I think the idea originated in one of our meetings on the President’s committee on sexual violence, and there was talk amongst some of the members of the committee that students were commenting that they used dating apps,” Gaha said. “One of our students was talking to a young man, and he told her that he was a student over at Notre Dame, and it turned out that he wasn’t. … She couldn’t believe that somebody would say that they are something they are not.”

Gaha explained her intention for the panel to serve as a safe opportunity for students to ask questions.

“I really wanted to keep it positive and not like, ‘Don’t date, you’ll get murdered,” Gaha said.

Liz Coulston, coordinator for the Belles Against Violence Office (BAVO), spoke to the formation of the panel.

“We were able to team up and figure out who our panelists were going to be and create a clear vision for the event itself, to make sure the students were getting the right information,” Coulston said.

The panelists for the event included Coulston; Lori Smith, special victims outreach advocate for the Family Justice Center of St. Joseph County; and H.R. Jung, executive director of the LGBTQ center, Mishawaka.

The panelists discussed the importance of safety not just while using the application, but also if a user decides to convene with someone who they meet on a dating application.

Smith discussed the idea of waiting a comfortable amount of time to meet up with this person.

Whether that be two weeks or seven, wait to meet up until you know more about them. It is important in these situations to keep everyone aware of what is going on, especially if this match is new, Smith said.

Jung said to never venture off and go to a second location. He encouraged dating application users to always stay at one public location.

When asked about maintaining self-confidence, the panelists emphasized it is important to be realistic when it comes to dating applications. They encouraged users to try an application tailored to people that users hope to connect with if they aren’t getting the desired results.

“Don’t get bogged down with rejection,” Smith said.

The panelists concluded the event by encouraging dating application users to be cautious but to also have fun, as long as personal safety is maintained.

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