On Valentine’s Day, the Student Association (SA) of UNMC organised a Speed Dating event at F1A03, from 7.30PM until 9.00PM. The entry fee was RM3, which was intended to be collected for charity. The activity successfully attracted 21 pairs of hopeful participants.
The main goal of the event was to support EPIC Homes. This non-profit organisation aims to provide underprivileged communities, especially those in Malaysia, with financial and material aid.
According to Noorulain, the head of the event committee:
We aimed to organise a fundraiser in support of EPIC Homes, which was the starting point of this event.
The event committee also chose the day of love to promote socialisation among strangers, complimentary to their fundraising aim.
How exactly did speed dating work?
In the event, female participants were assigned a specific number and table. On the other hand, male participants were given random numbers. These numbers determined the pairing arrangements and sequence throughout the evening.
The activity involved seven sessions that lasted for 6 minutes. In the first session, men and women with the same numbers would meet at the female’s table, to begin the process of getting to know each other.
After the first six minutes, the females remain at the same table while the males moved on to the female of the following table number. For example, after six minutes of chatting with female No.3, the No.3 male would have to interact with the No.4 female for the next six minutes.
Additionally, participants were encouraged to write comments about the person they had just met. These were then inserted into each person’s allocated envelopes. At the end of the activity, everyone received their respective envelopes, containing ‘feedback’ from their seven rounds of conversations with strangers.
Participants wrote comments for the person whom they had just conversed with.
What were the perceptions towards Speed Dating?
After some quick interviews, it seems that perspectives regarding the Valentine Day activity differ between participants.
A common stereotype appears to have been associated with the event. Speed dating was assumed to be limited to the single, lonely and desperate students who did not have a date for Valentine’s Day. However, this may not be the case. A number of participants were actually already in relationships or just simply participating to support their friends. Of course, there were also those participating out of curiosity.
Despite different intentions, participants of the event did share a common interest; to connect and interact with new people.
Despite their different goals, participants of the event shared a common interest; to connect and interact with new faces.
Yet, participants entered the room with either stoic expressions or bared faces full of emotions. Many were anxious or nervous as it was their first try at speed dating. One of the IGNITE writers, as a participant herself, felt keyed up as it was her first time experimenting with such an event.
Fortunately, the initial awkward silence between the dates quickly died out and was replaced with laughter and loud chatter. As a nice touch, subtle jazz music played in the background while the participants got more comfortable with the activity and the system of speed dating.
The event went well enough that some participants did not mind going for extra rounds. However, a few female participants had comments to share about the differences in ‘date’ meeting arrangements.
Does she have to play the waiting game?
It seems that some female participants felt uncomfortable having to wait for a guy to show up at their table. Feeding into the idea that women had to patiently wait for their ‘Prince Charming’ to arrive, some female students felt powerless and constrained.
I felt like I was an item on display,
said a student who was outwardly uncomfortable throughout the event, while another said,
I walked in expecting socialisation, not being constrained in a chair with no romantic feelings.
Another issue was that some participants were matched with their friends that they had accompanied. Due to the lack of interaction with new people, having been paired up with friends, these students found it difficult to actually meet a romantic match. As one anonymous participant put it,
As much as I would like to date my best friend… I’d rather not.
However, the students made the best out of the situation and got to know their friends better through the conversations they shared.
Overall, the event was well-planned. Though there is still room for improvement in the future. The committee of the event were commendable in organising and planning the program, and were also very helpful towards the participants.
In spite of the drawbacks, students left the room with more friends than before. Some may have even found the beginning of possible sparks for a romantic relationship. Most importantly, the SA gathered enough funds from the event, fulfilling their main objective. EPIC Homes will then receive a donation of the proceeds.
Written by Anussya Jayasimhan and Teoh Sing Fei
Photographs by Vera Tanzil