Dating for Extra Credit At BC

Virginia R. Marshall

The Sinclair also houses a restaurant called American Kitchen.

When Dave Griffin's date showed up at The Sinclair for her second date with Dave Griffin, what she didn't know was that besides her aforementioned suitor's genuine interest in her, he'd had other reasons for asking her out.

He would have done it anyway, Griffin said. And yet the only reason we know all these details about Dave Griffin and his unsuspecting date is that liking her was not his primary motivation for the first date; according to the Boston Globe, it was the promise of extra credit in his philosophy class.

As a student in Kerry Cronin's Boston College class, Griffin was simply carrying out the "script" for what's apparently known around campus as as "Cronin date." Cronin, a self-styled "relationship adviser" who is reportedly known at BC as the "dating doctor," has assigned dates as homework or extra credit in her classes for several years running.

After giving a talk on dating, Cronin realized that it's not that college students don't want to date, but rather that they just don't know how to ask each other out on dates. (Whether or not she's right on this point, we will leave for readers to decide in the comments below.) And so, like any good doctor, Cronin prescribed a cure for her patients, plagued, in this case, by hookup culture.

Cronin dates must follow a set of rules, some of them fairly reasonable—you must actually be interested in the person—and others, like not being able to tell them why you've asked them out, far sketchier. Also, there's no alcohol and no physical interaction except, in certain cases, a hug at the end. Definitely no kissing.

The rules are a nice idea probably meant to take the pressure off that first rendezvous and provide students with real practice going on dates in whose outcome they are truly invested. But it also seems likely that most people on the other end of things, if and when they find out about the premise of their first date, would find it just a little unsettling to have been, unknowingly, party to such a social experiment. (Put yourself in Dave Griffin's unnamed date's shoes when the article was published in the Globe, for example.)

What are we to glean from all this? For one, while courtship is probably dead, dating, it seems, may live on, at least among more motivated students. (N.B.: It might make a cute story if they live happily ever after, but a date completed for an assignment really does not constitute courtship.) Other potential takeaways are that grade inflation is not just a thing at Harvard, and that colleges these days can, at times, seem hell-bent on teaching us all kinds of skills that will likely not be of use in the real world, like writing by hand for three hours straight in final exams or asking people out face-to-face.

For his part, Griffin rather enjoyed doing his homework that fateful afternoon. “There was a general feeling of awkwardness but also accomplishment,” he told the Globe. Awkward, we'd guess, because of the whole asking his crush out for secret reasons aspect, and accomplished because, well, it worked. All best wishes to you, Dave Griffin and date.

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