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Students attend speed dating event


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By Kirsten Clark



This year’s Sexploration Week kicked off Monday evening with a slightly different take on the traditional speed dating event.

“The speed dating is orientation-inclusive, which means GLBT, heterosexual — everyone’s welcome,” said health educator Patrick Nagel, who organized the event.

After a brief ice-breaker activity, about 60 students were allotted three-minute conversations with other event-goers, during which they would briefly get to know one another and indicate on a piece of paper their interest in pursuing either a friendship or romance.

Nagel collected students’ email addresses to connect participants who expressed mutual interest in a romantic relationship.

“You’re going to meet people you’re not romantically interested in,” Nagel said at the start of the event. “This is orientation-inclusive. Just try to be respectful.”

Last year’s Sexploration Week marked the first time IU educators organized the speed dating event.

It resulted in multiple match-ups, Nagel said before Monday’s event, and he hoped this year’s event would yield similar outcomes.

Senior pre-med student Jeff Tippin said he attended a speed dating event at IU before and had fun meeting new people.

“I’m here to see if there’s someone here of interest,” he said. “But it’s a good study break.”

If nothing else, he said, it would be good for a laugh.

Nagel provided a list of questions — Where are you from? What’s your sign? — for participants who experienced difficulty getting a conversation off the ground.

The room resonated with chatter in three-minute intervals, each separated by the ring of a bell that signified when it was time for participants to switch partners.

Altogether, Tippin spoke with about 14 participants.

He met one person he was interested in, he said, but was unsure whether it would turn into anything.

“It was fun,” he said after the event. “I met a lot of really cool people, a lot who were pre-med.”

He said he thought it was important for the event to be orientation-inclusive to cater to people with different preferences.

It would be discriminatory, he said, to not include everyone.

At the end of the night, Nagel said it was too early to tell how many romantic matches had been made.

He said he would notify participants who expressed mutual interest in a romantic relationship via email within a week or so.

Nagel said the event’s orientation inclusion was important and coincided with the goals of Sexploration Week: to encourage positive behaviors about things like sex, gender and sexual orientation.

“I think it’s important because a lot of people have these heteronormal ideas ... a lot of traditional speed dating events are heterosexual,” he said, adding that many heterosexual individuals tend to think of relationships in terms of heterosexuality and not in terms of homosexuality or bisexuality.

He said the event went well, and participants were respectful of differences in sexual preference.

“There was a good mix of orientations,” he said.

Last year, he said, the turnout was largely heterosexual, and participants of differentorientations felt left out.

“I think it worked out well, and no one felt singled out or isolated by who they might be attracted to,” he said.

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Senior Jeff Tippin mingles with other students at the Speed Dating event organized as the kick-off of Sexploration week by the IU Health Center on Monday at the IMU State Room East. Sara Singh Buy Photos

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