After ‘academics’ or ‘coop’, the University of Waterloo might be best known as a virgin sanctuary. A stroll through campus presents questions abound: Is anyone here getting any? What do couples (if they exist) even do here? Study together quietly? I sat down with students to hear about UW virgin vibes, dating recommendations, and campus love stories.
When students at the Pure Math Club office were asked if they would like to comment on sex and dating on campus for Imprint, they erupted into laughter. Like any other stereotype, we see a disparity in behaviour between those who wish to accept, reject, or subvert expectations. Subversion of expectations might explain the fascination with sex among math students — legends of MC basement orgies, the ‘Escort Dude Redemption Arc’ on r/uwaterloo, and the recent mathNews article “RATING EVERY UW RESIDENCE FOR HAVING SEX.” The fixation with sex seems to be fueled by the allegations of mass virginity, taking on a new level of taboo.
When asked if the virgin stereotype is true, Sandra Irek, a 1B legal studies student, said, “Yeah, I think so… I’m here, it’d have to be.” We shared a laugh, and she continued, “… I hear at other universities, it’s just a lot easier to be social and make friends, and obviously that would go with dating as well.”
Reliance on online dating seems to be falling out of fashion as we return to our pre-pandemic habits. Janine Louis, a 4A psychology and legal studies student, talked about the changes to the dating scene as we move out of COVID measures. “I feel like just something has changed. Like especially being back in person, you’re craving that increased sociability.”
Maitea Soto, a 3A AFM student, sees value in meeting organically, especially as you move from your teens into your early twenties. “I think that there’s something really special about meeting someone organically and just having the guts to be like ‘Hey, you’re cute. What’s your number?’”
Despite the fact that most people who I spoke with wanted more in-person interaction, there’s a lot of perceived social pressure stopping students from actually acting on this. “It’s a nerve-wracking thing to talk to someone even platonically; asking someone out romantically is even bigger,” said Rasleen Pannu, a 4A psychology & SMF student. She still encourages people to get out there. “At the end of the day, the way you walked in would be the way that you’re leaving. If they reject you, it just doesn’t really make a difference.”
Sebrina Joergensen, a 3B literature & rhetoric student, had her own meet-cute story. Joergensen explained how she spotted her boyfriend at the Glow Centre: “On my left at a different table was a guy with a chewlery necklace and tie-dye crocs, and I thought 1) he’s autistic, like me! and 2) this is the cutest guy I have ever seen. So of course I wanted to strike up a conversation, and I did it the only way I know how — commenting on a shared thing — autism — and infodumping about a special interest. Turns out he was also trans, like me.” A couple weeks after this meeting, the pair made it official. “It’s been a little over three months since then and I’m so happy with him. Moral of the story, I suppose, is to be authentic.”
To couples on campus, Jordan Litt, a 1B honours biology student, advises, “Make sure you make time for each other every day.” Litt says of her boyfriend, “A lot of our relationship was spent online during lockdown, and we did not have many chances to go out on dates or physically see each other. Now I get to see him all the time! Even if it’s just getting a quick lunch from Tim Hortons or going for a walk through the Peter Russell Rock Garden, it’s important to us to hang out despite our busy schedules.”
Making time for informal dates in between classes at more aesthetically pleasing campus spots such as Funken Cafe, the EV courtyard, and the Conrad Grebel campus, all of which come highly recommended, seem to be the key to success for couples on campus.
While walking around campus interviewing students for this article, I found myself faced with awkward little rejections over and over again. I soon found that they did not bother me: I was completely comfortable with this low-level rejection. While meeting new people and hearing about their dating lives, thoughts on love, and advice for others, I began to have a little more faith that love — or at least friendship — is out there for everyone, so long as you’re willing to get comfortable with rejection.