“The board wanted to come up with something fun, both for members and non-members. So many parties and meetings were cancelled this year already, and how else do you meet new people? There is no spontaneity anymore,” says Lucia Kalkman, education commissioner of Thor, the study association of Electrical Engineering and Automotive Technology.
After a brainstorming session with the board, Kalkman came up with the idea of organizing First Dates. The concept is based on the television show of the same name aired by BNN-VARA in which singles meet each other in a restaurant and allow viewers to follow their first, often awkward conversations. “Only the tv cameras are missing, but the idea is the same.”
Surplus of men
The third-year student of Electro Engineering says that it’s not necessarily about matching singles. “It’s really about meeting new people. We will draw up a disclaimer that gives people the opportunity to indicate that they’re also open to a ‘friendly date.”’ This means that students can also be matched to a fellow student of the sex they’re not attracted to. “We have something of a surplus of men at TU/e, and this is a way to solve that.”
There is however still a lot of work to be done before the dates can actually take place. “We want to open the registration in late May or early June. We are currently still in talks with the university.” Thor would like to make use of a grant pot to reduce the costs of the dinner. “Having to pay thirty euros or ten euros for a dinner makes a quite a difference to students. We believe that the costs will play a part in people’s decision to register or not.”
The dates take place spread out over three evenings, and Thor aims for fifty participants per evening. “That way, we comply with the corona guidelines, and it will also remain organizable for us.” In total, there’s room for 150 people wishing to go on a date.
Hanging up coats
There’s definitely no lack of enthusiastic volunteers who want to help. “Many of our members volunteered to take place behind the bar, or to welcome the singles at the door and hang up their coats. Hopefully, an equal number of people will be just as enthusiastic and willing to take the plunge and go on a blind date.”
Participants shouldn’t take the idea too seriously, Kalkman says. “If it results in a relationship, that’s great of course, but the goal is to bring back some spontaneity in the lives of students.”