Illustration by Jamie Morton

For students looking to connect with their peers, Colleges Nine and Ten are hosting a “speed meeting event.” For three years, the colleges have hosted speed dating just before Valentine’s Day. Last year, over 200 students attended the event and this year, the colleges are hosting a similar event — with a more all-inclusive spin.

The event will be held Feb. 10, with sign-ups beginning at 6:40 p.m. Participants will mingle with one another without restrictions of gender or orientation. Organizers hope to encourage connections of all kinds, romantic or otherwise.

“We’re not calling it a speed dating event, it’s a speed meeting event — we are giving students an opportunity to make connections not just for romantic relationships, but also for friendship,” said Kyoko Freeman, college programs coordinator for Colleges Nine and Ten. “Our feeling is, this campus is large and you want to find people you have common interests with.”

Similar meet-ups have traditionally attracted an eclectic group of people — students of all genders and orientations hoping to find someone compatible with their interests, but they only have two minutes in which to do so.

The event is made possible by the Colleges Nine and Ten activities office and spearheaded by a LGBT student.

“We had a student here who happened to be interested in hosting a speed dating event and he happened to be a member of the LGBT community and said, ‘I want to do this, but I want to make it inclusive for everybody,’” Freeman said. “So it was a really a student-initiated idea.”

Second-year Marco Suarez was among those who attended last year, moving tables and meeting UC Santa Cruz students.

“I feel like speed dating is one of those things you have to do before you die,” Suarez said.

Tables were labeled as “boy meets boy,” “boy meets girl,” and “girl meets girl.” Suarez tried his luck at both the “boy meets boy” and “boy meets girl” tables.

“I’m gay, so I went to the gay tables, and there were only like six people,” Suarez said. “So I went to do my rounds with the girls, and it was a lot of fun.”

Although Suarez enjoyed the event, he said he found more platonic friendships than potential love interests.

“I don’t know if the girls detected I was gay, but I got a lot of matches, which was pretty cool,” he said.

This year, attendees will not be divided by gender or orientation.

“We basically wanted to create an environment where people of all genders and orientations felt comfortable coming to meet people,” said event organizer third-year Katelyn Peterson. “It wouldn’t segregate them based on genders or orientations.”

Programs coordinator Freeman said the speed meeting event is a great resource for students to interact in ways they normally would not.

“I think students should always find something interesting to do on campus, but they have to put themselves out there in a way that says, ‘I’m willing to try something,’” Freeman said. “Whatever it is that makes you feel like you have a community, you should participate in.”

For students considering attending the Friday event, topic cards will be supplied to reduce the chances of awkward silences. One conversation starter poses the question, “Have you ever thought about a world without clocks?”