The Lawrence University campus offered students two opportunities to reach out and meet new friends over the Valentine’s Day weekend with the Palentines event on Saturday and the Speed Friending event on Sunday. Both events paired students up for timed encounters, helping participants find similarities and foster friendships.
On Saturday, the 13th, Palentines, organized by the Student Organization for University Programming (SOUP) and the Lawrence University Community Council (LUCC), took place virtually. It used the website glimpse.com, which matches participants together for limited amounts of time. If participants wanted, they could add more time and continue talking, but after time runs out or the call is ended, participants are matched up with someone new. The platform was accessible for those unfamiliar with it and made meeting a new friend safe and easy, all while maintaining social-distancing guidelines.
On Sunday, the 14th, the Valentine’s Day Speed Friending took place in the Somerset Room in the Warch Campus Center. Students came and participated in the event, which was similar to speed dating but centered on making new friends, much like the virtual event that came the day before. Tables were set up in Somerset, allowing space for two people per table, where each person was situated on either end. This protocol insured that students could converse face to face while still abiding by COVID safety guidelines. Students were then given a few minutes to talk to their partner, or their “match,” before they cycled on to the next person. This rule provided plenty of different chances for participants to meet people to connect with without any encounters feeling awkwardly long or uncomfortable.
Chances to make face-to-face connections during COVID are few and far between, so, students took advantage of the controlled time to meet new peers. Because of the safe environment created by both events, no one who wanted to participate in the festivities was excluded due to COVID concerns. The extremely cold weather that has impacted most students for the past few weeks can have an isolating effect, so, participants were eager to talk to new people outside of an academic environment.
All of the interactions between participants were friendly and relaxed. In fact, it seemed to have a positive effect on everyone’s mood. People were having fun and seemed to be truly excited to meet new people amidst COVID.
Valentine’s Day can be a difficult holiday for some, not to mention with the constrictions of the pandemic, but the Lawrence community made sure that everyone who wanted some company this past weekend could find what they were looking for. The atmosphere of both events was not just friendly but was also welcoming. They left no room for rudeness and simply provided students with a fun and safe place to spend their Valentine’s Day. The events also created a safe place, both mentally and physically, for students to branch out.
Palentine’s Day and Speed Friending could not have happened in a traditional manner this year, but the Lawrence community adapted. Instead of forfeiting these events this year, LUCC and SOUP put measures in place to ensure Lawrence students could meet new friends during a pandemic.