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ISSUE 117 VOL 9 PUBLISHED 11/21/2003

Ready, set, 'Date it Forward'

By Diana Frantz
Variety Editor

Friday, November 21, 2003

The lack of a happening dating scene at St. Olaf is old news. Everybody knows St. Olaf students are either single or are attached at the hip to their significant other. People keep talking about the absence of casual dating, but nobody has proposed a viable solution to this socially crippling conundrum – until now.

The Wellness Center has begun a program called “Date It Forward” to encourage casual dating. Meta Herrick ’04, a Wellness Center peer educator, described how “Date It Forward” works: “One person asks out three people on three separate dates over the course of three weeks. Then, following the example of the film ‘Pay It Forward,’ those three people ask out three more people over the course of the next three weeks.” Sound like a pyramid scheme? Fortunately, a pyramid scheme in the dating realm is legal, and it may even solve the dating problem plaguing the St. Olaf campus.

Actually, St. Olaf seems to have more than one problem with casual dating: Problem #1: Since St. Olaf is a small community, it is difficult to avoid people. Students are afraid to go on a first date because they are convinced a second date, third date and marriage must follow. How can one refuse a second date with such a high probability of running into “the reject?” Solution: Get real. A mature person should understand that sometimes people just aren’t compatible. It is worth it to take a chance and go on a first date. Saying “no” to a second date does not make someone a bad person.

Problem #2: St. Olaf students are stuck in an idealistic 1950s time warp. Most students believe that a date must be formal: dinner and a movie on a Friday night, paid for by the male partner. Solution: Two words: meal plan. Try to mix things up and have a casual dinner in Stav on a weeknight. Take off the pressure and save the weekend for friends.

Problem #3: St. Olaf students marry other St. Olaf students. Students are taught this fallacy from Day One. Solution: Sure, some people meet the loves of their lives here on the Hill, but let’s be realistic, most don’t. Perhaps it isn’t necessary to take dating so seriously. Try to block the wedding bells out when eyeing any prospective dates.

Problem #4: St. Olaf is a veritable cesspool of gossipmongers. Solution: This is the era of “Sex and the City.” Should one go past the goodnight kiss on a first date, one should remain confident that others will take the “latest big news” in stride. Besides, there’s more to a relationship than holding hands.

Most St. Olaf students would likely attest that there is some truth behind these myths. Some advice to St. Olaf students looking to shed their “casual dating jitters:” a date can be a scary thing, but it only lasts for a few hours. One must remember that the world probably won’t end if he or she doesn’t strike romantic gold on the very first date.

“If you get tagged, be flattered! Dating shouldn't be overwhelming or confusing. It's just a chance try something new with someone new,” Herrick said.

Should they choose to participate in “Date It Forward,” students have nothing to fear. “If you get tagged, pass it on. If you are tagged and choose not to participate, you might just be setting yourself up for one cold, lonely winter,” Herrick said.

On your marks, get set, “Date It Forward!”

– For creative Northfield date ideas, visit the Dean of Students website at:

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