As people filed in, the room was full of nervous anticipation. Most of the participants had never done anything like this before. It was a totally new experience and Alpha Tau Omega was going to help them out.
ATO brought speed dating to CSU on Sunday just in time for Valentine’s Day.
“We thought it would be a good event, especially for a fraternity to do,” said Cody O’Connor, a member of ATO and the organizer of the event. This is the first major event for the newly organized fraternity.
All proceeds of the night (students had to pay $5 to experience speed dating) will go to Sexual Assault Victim Advocates, the only sexual assault group in Fort Collins. The fraternity picked SAVA because they wanted to donate to a sexual assault group and they also wanted a group that was accessible to students.
After paying and filling out a nametag, students began to mingle in the large ballroom. Some came casually dressed while others were dressed to impress; girls wore heels and guys tucked in their shirts.
“I wanted to try something new; I’ve never done it before. I was inspired by ‘Hitch,'” said Callie Magdziuk, an open-option freshman. “I didn’t come expecting a date, though.”
Many other students shared the same sentiments – they came to check it out and to meet some new people.
And so when a member of ATO explained the rules (four minute “dates” and men move while women stay seated) conversations got louder and nervous laughter was everywhere. They were ready.
Rocky Giarratano, a senior economics major and president of ATO, was also one of the participants. He was excited for the night to begin, not only because his fraternity was hosting the event but also because he wanted to talk with some new, interesting people.
When ATO members said, “Go,” couples started chatting it up.
On his first “date,” Giarratano talked with Katie Evans, a junior social work major, about where they were each from and about people they both knew. As the time progressed, there was a lot of laughter, not only from Giarratano and his date, but from around the room.
The cymbal was hit and it was time to move on; four minutes had gone by fairly quickly. Giarratano shook Evans’ hand and, like the rest of the men in the ballroom, moved on to the next seat.
Across from the next seat was Kendra McConnell, a junior marketing student. McConnell is a sorority member, so she and Giarratano discussed Greek life over one of the small burning candles that lined the tables. He was shocked at how much more formal rushing a sorority is than rushing a fraternity. McConnell was only one of many other Greeks who came to support the newest fraternity at CSU.
“When we support other houses, hopefully they will support ours,” said Stephanie Villarreal, a sophomore marketing major and a member of the Chi Omega sorority.
All too quickly, the cymbal was hit and once more Giarratano was moved to the next seat.
The next girl he was to meet was Leslie Tucker, a freshman natural resource, recreation and tourism major.
Tucker looked a little nervous and her eyes kept darting back and forth between Giarratano and the guys sitting on either side of him. But her nervousness didn’t hinder the date. After some small talk, they got onto the subject of speaking different languages. Giarratano speaks French and told Tucker, “My name is Rocky and I like to play the guitar,” in French. She smiled and giggled at his antics until the cymbal rang.
After a couple more dates, intermission was announced. This was a time for students to refill their drinks, go to the restroom (because they drank too many energy drinks), move around a bit and talk to people they actually knew.
Members of ATO raffled off several prizes, including free ice cream from Walrus Ice Cream and pizza from Old Chicago.
As people were milling around, everyone seemed to be having a good time.
“It’s good. I am meeting a lot of interesting people,” Christina Garcia, a junior microbiology major, said.
The only complaint that could be heard was that the conversations were all very similar.
“I guess that’s all you can really do in four minutes,” said Gary Shafer, a sophomore construction management major.
After everyone had gotten their fill of drinks and snacks, they were asked to sit back down and begin another date. Although some people had called it a night and left for the evening, there were still plenty of willing people to meet and greet.
After a few more “dates,” ATO decided the night of speed dating had come to an end. Overall, the fraternity was able to donate almost $1,100 to SAVA from the estimated 150 students who came out for the speed-dating extravaganza.
“It went really well,” O’Connor said of the evening.
Will CSU students ever do speed dating again?
Kira Maixner, a freshman open-option major, summed the evening up when she said, “We’ll see how the night ends.”
Staff writer Anica Wong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.