Kerry Cronin, a Boston College philosophy professor first introduced the bizarre sounding task to her syllabus 12 years ago.
The assignment was simple. Ask someone out on a date, where there will be no alcohol or physical contact.
Fast-forward to today and her seemingly straightforward test is no longer mandatory. However still exists for extra credit should her students want it.
Cronin created the assignment when she found out that many of her graduating seniors had never been on a first date. Something which will still ring true 12 years on as traditional dating culture diminishes.
This is exactly why she sets out guidelines for the task;
- The student has to ask in person
- The recipient has to know it’s a date
- If they say they’re busy and to check back later, don’t, move on
- Shouldn’t cost more than $10, involve drugs or alcohol
- Shouldn’t last longer than 90 minutes because “no one is interesting after three hours”
There is method behind the strangeness. She sees the conversations as part of the larger topics that her class tackles. Which does kind of make sense.
“If students don’t learn how to date while they’re in college, while surrounded by thousands of peers all in a similar stage in life, it only gets harder to build those skills after graduation. One skill that comes with practicing asking people out and inevitably experiencing rejection: Learning that your “ego strength” doesn’t come from someone else,”
Obviously her methods have had their critics. She tackles this by saying that relationships are what it means to be human.
In fact, thanks to the whole experience Erika Peña who took her class in 2008 met her future husband. She asked a friend-of-a-friend to go for ice cream, several years later the two were engaged in that very same ice cream shop.