Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Dead or alive, NU dating scene ripe for campus discussion

Although “going steady” and “Coke dates” may be relics of the past, confusion about on-campus dating still is alive at Northwestern, concluded about 40 students and faculty members at Friday’s 2003 Leslie A. Hoffmann Undergraduate Colloquium.

Panelists and participants raised more questions than they had answers as they discussed 21st century romance at the event, sponsored by the Gender Studies liaison committee. The seminar, “Dating Is Dead: Myths and Misconceptions,” featured commentary from a panel of five students and university staff on topics such as same-sex dating and romantic traditions in other cultures.

Weinberg senior David Nyweide, who is studying NU romance from the 1920s to the present for his thesis, spoke about the evolution of NU’s dating scene. During World War II, when women outnumbered men by a 10 to 1 margin, dating was almost non-existent, he said.

Because men and women lived in separate dorms until 1970, the concept of a date was more defined. A “coded dating script” existed, he said, because men and women otherwise didn’t interact. But Nyweide said current dating at NU involves more ambiguity — from water-fountain flirtations to Instant Messenger conversations.

“A lot of people cannot define what a date is today, ” he said. “People form relationships even before they go on their first date, when before, the only way to have a relationship … was by dating.”

Panelist Brandy Jensen, an area coordinator who oversees Bobb and McCullough halls, talked about problems with same-sex relationships in college. She discussed being harassed while walking past the fraternity quads with her girlfriend last spring.

“Since we’re two women in a relationship, a lot of people don’t respect that it’s a real relationship,” she said.

Another panelist, Weinberg sophomore Ha-Thanh Nguyen, broached the issue of interracial dating. Nguyen, a Vietnamese American, said it’s difficult to balance the expectations of her culture with her own desires.

“Academics have often assumed that we choose simply between marrying out versus marrying in, dating white or dating Asian,” Nguyen said. “In reality, Asian Americans negotiate between much more than simply two choices.”

Judi Singleton, a graduate student, shared research from her studies of dating in South Africa, commenting that single men and women there have specific health and family circumstances that influence dating.

“The institution of marriage is dying (in South Africa) because of the high level of poverty, which is complicated by AIDS,” Singleton said.

Counseling and Psychological Services psychologist David Shor tried to debunk the biggest myth of all — that men aren’t interested in intimacy. Participating in one-night stands may allow both sexes to reach some sort of intimacy without the work of a relationship, he said.

“You wake up in the morning, and what you get out of it is a little bit of a connection,” he said. “For men, having physical contact goes towards proving masculinity, which is a very important thing for a lot of young men.”

Attendees then discussed in small groups the conflicting definitions of hook-ups, sex and commitment. Audience members said they were glad to have the chance to discuss a sometimes-taboo topic.

“It’s wonderful to have an academic event that caters to the personal lives of students,” said David Osborne, a Weinberg sophomore. “I felt a lot of empathy. It didn’t really give a solution, but there was a lot of comfort in the discussion.”

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Dead or alive, NU dating scene ripe for campus discussion