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ISSUE 118 VOL 13 PUBLISHED 3/11/2005

Our last hope

By Jennifer Hancock
Staff Writer


Friday, March 11, 2005

In my four years at St. Olaf, one complaint has remained constant: The dating scene on campus is abominable. Lest you think this is a recent development, consider the following fact: I have a friend whose aunt attended St. Olaf in the 1970s, and she said the dating scene was nonexistent then, too.

At the very least, St. Olaf has a 30 year history of bad dating. However, times are changing. The hot new online social network, Facebook (www.thefacebook.com,) is the harbinger of a new day at St. Olaf.

You may disagree. We certainly have seen other Internet technologies enhance our social lives, but most have failed to bring about real dating change. I mean, neither Stalkernet (www.stolaf.edu/personal) nor Moodle (www.moodle.stolaf.edu) have helped to create a more hospitable environment for on-campus lovin’, though they definitely have made life more interesting. Some may not even remember the days before Stalkernet or Moodle, but as a sage old senior, I can tell the story of the effect they had on romance at St. Olaf.

I remember perfectly the beautiful night my friends and I first discovered Stalkernet. On our virgin night as Stalkernet users, we gazed at the pictures of the fine new crop of first years living in my JC friend’s residence hall. We all thought, “Only at St. Olaf would it be acceptable to be able to access the phone number, room number and picture of any student using nothing more than a first name.”

On any other campus, there would surely be an outcry over such a breach of anonymity; people would be afraid of providing a technology through which stalkers, peeping toms and other criminals could obtain personal information with ease. Here, however, Stalkernet provided hours of freaky fun. In years past, we would use it to show others the hot guy in this or that class, and we would all drool over him together.

Unfortunately, Stalkernet did not stimulate activity in the St. Olaf dating pool. It may have placed the vital statistics of objects of interest right at the fingertips of the desperate dateless droves, but it did not instill us with the courage to dial that number and get a real date. However, Stalkernet had its definite benefits. It allowed us to bond together in same-sex friendships as we all gathered ‘round a computer screen to lust over a hot fellow Ole together.

Before we had even exhausted the hours of fun provided by Stalkernet, we were introduced to Moodle, which allowed us to access the pictures of other students in our classes. Not only were we able to determine who had the most unfortunate pictures and use them for a good laugh, we could also find out the names of the various unknown hotties in our classes.

Then, we could take that information to Stalkernet to discover said hottie’s contact information. So, Moodle had some potential for encouraging students to ask each other on dates, but for the most part, it simply enhanced the same kind of benign stalking encouraged by Stalkernet. I have yet to hear about any dating relationships which started through Moodle.

But, I am confident that this latest advancement in e-technology will improve the campus dating scene. Not only can one access the photos of fellow students on Facebook, but one can also create a profile citing interests, majors and musical tastes, among other things. Users can specify if they are looking for “friendship,” “dating,” “a relationship,” “random play” or “whatever I can get.” Thus, if you want “random play” and you find someone else who also wants the same, presto! You have a potential date.

Even better, users can look at others’ profiles before asking them out. Thus, one can avoid sticky situations like a flaming liberal accidentally ending up on a date with a card-carrying member of the NRA. If St. Olaf students really want to date, and they and most insist they really, really do, they should use Facebook to their advantage.

Don’t be shy. Ask out the girl or guy who is single and likes the same music as you do. If Facebook cannot jump-start the St. Olaf dating scene, nothing can.


- Any questions or comments may be sent to sexcolumnist@stolaf.edu


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