Dartmouth College students are using red cups -- and not the kind distributed at keggers -- as a new way to make friends.
The Dartmouth Social Cups program, recently launched by senior Christopher McMillan, seeks to cut back on the stress students feel when they have to eat lunch or dinner alone. Students who use a red cup at the campus dining center, the Class of 1953 Commons, signal to others that they don't have anyone to eat their meal with and would welcome company.
"Foco [Food Court] is a place that everyone goes to, but it’s also a place that a lot of people stress over,” McMillan told The Dartmouth, a student newspaper. "A lot of people just go upstairs and pretend to do work on their computer if they're alone, so this is just a solution I thought up."
Dartmouth Dining Services spent $100 on the new red cups and posters to advertise them, according to the paper. This was the program's first week in action.
Some students at the Ivy League school appear skeptical that the red cups will solve their troubles.
Freshman Jon Vandermause reported having no luck when he tried the program, telling The Dartmouth, "Nobody said 'hi' to me all evening. I don't know if I'm ugly or if the cups aren't working."
But an anonymous student and self-described friend of Vandermause defended the program in a comment on the Ivy League blog IvyGate: "As a Dartmouth student, this program is awesome. It's just about making new connections and meeting people you wouldn't have met otherwise. Also, as Jon's friend, he's just ugly."
Another commenter on IvyGate called the effort "creative and noble."
Of course, others mocked it, like this tweet:
But what's so wrong with eating alone? Do students enter a dining hall like a scene from "Mean Girls," carefully plotting where they'll sit? There are multiple articles available online discussing how to handle the inevitable situation and whether solo dining is acceptable. Students search for ways to deal with eating alone, asking for advice on College Confidential.
So maybe the red cups will serve a need on campus. Even if somebody sits down out of pity, friendships have begun with less.
(Photo of the red cups in action available here.)