Not every love story has a fairy tale beginning, a fact to which many couples at the College of William and Mary can attest. This Valentine’s Day, the College is helping those couples who want a romantic evening but find themselves in a town with few opportunities and limited modes of transportation. On-campus activities this year include a dance hosted by the Ballroom Club, a flower sale to benefit Students Helping Honduras and a chance for five select couples to enjoy a private dinner at the Sadler Center.
Some relationships being celebrated on campus this Valentine’s Day are rooted in rather whimsical moments.
“I got my hair cut, and then she noticed me,” Will Taylor ’11 said about Megan Grady ’11, his girlfriend of nearly two years.
A similarly quirky incident brought Colin Manning ’12 and Armina Amini ’12 together. A couple since their first semesters at the College, Manning and Amini have been dating for over a year, having met in their freshman dorm in the Botetourt Complex.
“In the lounge of Nicholson [Hall], there is an air hockey table,” Amini said, where she and Manning would occasionally challenge each other to a round. “We actually played so much that the plastic puck broke. In case the people in Nicholson this year wonder why there’s no puck, it’s because I have half of it and he has half of it.”
Dating on a college campus has its advantages. According to Amini, the large number of students and activities all in one place provides opportunities for people to meet each other, make connections and engage in common interests.
However, on-campus relationships come with unique challenges.
“It was hard to make a distinction between group time and ‘us time,’” at first, Taylor said. “You don’t get a lot of alone time. A lot of people want to go out and party, and we’re kind of at the point where we want to stay in and watch a movie, but it’s hard when the dorm is loud and people come in and out.”
Amanda Mounce ’10 has been dating her boyfriend, Sang Kim ’10, since their senior year of high school. She has found the dearth of couples’ activities in Williamsburg frustrating.
“We might have an actual date night every two weeks,” she said. “There’s nothing in Williamsburg to do. Mini golf is cheesy, I hate bowling — I’m really bad at it. We both like skating, but there’s no rink.”
Although the College is not especially date-friendly, students in relationships come up with creative ways to spend time together. Grady and Taylor make dinners together and attend performances on campus, and Mounce said she and her boyfriend often see movies at one of the nearby theaters. Amini and Manning recommend canoeing on Lake Matoaka.
“We’ll sometimes come to the Sadler Center and get take-out boxes and watch an episode of something on the couches,” Amini said. “When it’s nice out, I really like Colonial Williamsburg.”
Even with all the activities occurring on campus this Valentine’s Day, many couples are choosing to bypass these options in favor of more personal plans.
“I feel like the whole point of Valentine’s Day is to be with your special someone,” Taylor said. “So if you’re in a big group, it kind of loses its meaning.”
Taylor and Grady recommended using the holiday as an excuse to get off campus. They are spending the weekend at an historic inn.
“She [Grady] found it in a magazine over break, and I acted disinterested. Then I booked the hotel and it was a surprise,” Taylor said.
Amini and Manning are staying closer to home, planning to make a Valentine’s Day dinner together, while Mounce and Sang have a reservation at Season’s, a restaurant off Merchant’s Square.
“Honestly, it’s a commercial holiday,” Mounce said. “It’s just another excuse to buy things for your significant other. I don’t think you need a day to do something nice for your boyfriend or girlfriend. It just puts a lot of pressure on a particular day.”
Whether sincerely romantic or just a marketing ploy, Valentine’s Day will soon arrive at the College, and students in relationships will celebrate as they see fit.