CES to host ‘low-pressure’ events to help ‘reset the culture of dating’

BYU, BYU–Idaho, BYU–Hawaii, Ensign College, BYU–Pathway Worldwide and 15 institutes of religion will be hosting a Date Night event on Jan. 31

Within the next week, the Church Educational System will be hosting a Date Night at each of its institutions: Brigham Young University, BYU–Idaho, BYU–Hawaii and Ensign College, even BYU–Pathway Worldwide and Institutes of Religion.

The impetus behind the first-of-its-kind event is to help “reset the culture of dating” in a “low-stakes, low-pressure way,” Elder Clark G. Gilbert, commissioner of Church Education, told the Church News. 

Although each institution will be participating, the specifics of the event will be adapted to the needs of their unique communities. For example, while BYU, BYU–Idaho, Ensign College and BYU–Hawaii will be hosting their Date Night on Wednesday, Jan. 31, some local institutes — which are planning their own events — will be kicking off their Date Night on Friday, Jan. 26. 

Several of the Date Night events will include food, games and the opportunity to associate or ask questions of university or institute leaders.

“We hope that more students within CES will get to know each other in more meaningful ways as they increase their efforts in dating,” Elder Gilbert said.

Following prophetic counsel

During a devotional broadcast last year, the Church’s second-most senior leader shared loving but direct counsel to young single Latter-day Saints regarding marriage and dating.

On Sunday, May 21, 2023, President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency — sitting side by side with his wife, Sister Kristen M. Oaks — asked his young adult listeners to remember an important truth: “A loving Heavenly Father has a plan for His young adults, and part of that plan is marriage and children.”

For many years, the Church has counseled youth not to date before age 16. “Perhaps some young adults, especially men, have carried that wise counsel to excess and determined not to date before age 26 or maybe even 36,” President Oaks commented.

President Dallin H. Oaks and Sister Kristen Oaks speak to young adults during a Worldwide Devotional from the Conference Center Theater.
President Dallin H. Oaks and his wife, Sister Kristen Oaks, speak to young adults of the church during a Worldwide Devotional from the Conference Center Theater in Salt Lake City on Sunday, May 21, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
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During his address, President Oaks showed two charts: one showing the reduction in the percentage of adults in the United States who marry and the other showing the increase in the average age of Church members who marry. He also noted a national poll which showed that the importance to adults of having children has dropped in the last 25 years from 66% to 33%.

With that in mind, he reiterated dating counsel he gave in 2005. To the single men, he said: “Gather your courage and look for someone to pair off with. Start with a variety of dates with a variety of young women, and when that phase yields a good prospect, proceed to courtship. … Men have the initiative, and you men should get on with it.”

A “date” must pass the test of three p’s: planned ahead, paid for and paired off, President Oaks explained.

Elder Gilbert said he hopes this upcoming Date Night and other follow-up activities will build off the Oaks’ counsel.

For more information about this unique series of activities, here’s a preview about what each institution has planned.

Brigham Young University: “Date Night with the Reeses”

When: Wednesday, Jan. 31, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Wilkinson Student Center Ballroom

Noting that it can be daunting to start making friendships and connections on a campus with 30,000 other students, BYU’s Date Night event page says its Date Night “aims to create a space where you can unwind and have fun together without the pressure that some dating situations might entail.”

BYU President C. Shane Reese and Sister Wendy Reese will kickoff the party with Kahoot!, an interactive online game/trivia platform. The night will also feature a variety of activities for a variety of interests including karaoke, dancing, bowling, board games, video games, international cinema, a “Meet Cosmo” activity, s’mores, service and food. Admission is free.

Learn more here.

BYU’s Date Night poster which will be held Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, at 6:30 p.m.
BYU’s Date Night poster which will be held Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, at 6:30 p.m. | BYU

BYU–Idaho: “Date Night with the Merediths”

When: Wednesday, Jan. 31, 6:30 p.m.

Where: BYU–Idaho Center

When announcing BYU–Idaho’s Date Night event during the semester’s opening devotional, BYU–Idaho President Alvin F. Meredith III noted that it meets two of the three of President Oaks’ criteria: “This date has been planned ahead and paid for. All you need to do is pair off.”

Calling it “the biggest date night you’ve ever participated in,” President Meredith noted the event is open to both single and married students. 

“Once married, dating your spouse is an essential part of strengthening your eternal relationship,” Sister Jennifer Meredith noted. 

The Merediths also shared on social media a photo from their first date, which President Meredith explained was a blind date where the two were set up by her roommates. 

In encouraging students to attend, Sister Meredith said, “A single date does not mean you committed to an exclusive relationship. A good first date and every date thereafter should be enjoyable and respectful as you get to know new people.”

Doors open for the event at 6 p.m. The Merediths will host the opening session at 6:30 p.m. followed by an ice cream social and other activities, such as a pickleball tournament with the Merediths, an escape room, country dancing, board games, video games and a performance by Comic Frenzy, a comedic improvisational troupe.

Learn more at the BYU–Idaho’s event page.

Ensign College: “Date Night with the Kusches”

When: Wednesday, Jan. 31, 6 p.m.

Where: The Summit at Ensign College

In a social media post, Ensign College President Bruce C. Kusch and his wife, Sister Alynda Kusch, invited students to attend their special Date Night event on Wednesday, Jan. 31. “It’s free. There’ll be tacos. And Sister Kusch is my date,” President Kusch.

Sister Kusch invited students to bring a date. “But if you don’t know of anybody to ask, come anyway and you just might find somebody there,” she said.

Students can enjoy free tacos and treats, play games, mingle and interact with President and Sister Kusch, who will be responding to dating questions during a question-and-answer session. Participants can also earn raffle tickets to enter for prizes at the end of the evening.

Sarah Hintze, Ensign College manager of Student Life, said they hope it will be “a simple but meaningful activity for the students who participate.” 

Space is limited, so those wanting to participate must register by Friday, Jan. 26. Find the RSVP link at Ensign College event page.

BYU–Hawaii Date Night

When: Wednesday, Jan. 31, 7 p.m.

Where: Cannon Activities Center

To kickoff BYU–Hawaii’s Date Night, student hosts and guests will share ideas, stories, and counsel on dating in a talk show type setup. The show will also include messages from BYU–Hawaii President John S.K. Kauwe III and First Lady Monica S. Kauwe.

Students are then invited to participate in a variety of activity stations across campus that allow them to enjoy sociable competition, practice communication, share interests and learn new skills together. The evening will conclude with an outdoor dance and refreshments. 

“Over the past year, we have received important counsel from Church leaders on dating,” said Kala Kau, Student Life vice president. “We are excited for this CES-wide event to highlight dating at BYU–Hawaii and encourage students to relax and enjoy developing these friendships. We want them to be comfortable getting to know each other.”

Learn more here.

BYU–Pathway Worldwide

When: Jan. 31, 10 a.m. MST

WhereBYU-Pathway’s Facebook page

With their student community spanning more than 180 countries, BYU–Pathway Worldwide will participate in the CES Date Night event by featuring a special message from BYU–Pathway Worldwide President Brian K. Ashton and Sister Melinda Ashton. The two will discuss questions from BYU-Pathway students of all ages about dating, marriage and family relationships. 

The broadcast, titled “Nurturing Eternal Relationships,” will help listeners “gain helpful tips on how to create new relationships and strengthen existing ones.”

President Ashton posted on Instagram inviting students to participate and bring a friend.

Institutes of Religion

When: Varies

Where: 15 large institutes throughout the U.S.

Young single adult institute councils, students and leaders of 15 of the larger institutes in the United States have planned Date Night events for their local institutes. For example, the Utah Valley Institute posted on social media that it will be hosting a Date Night on Friday, Jan. 26, at 6 p.m. The cost is $12 per couple and will include dinner, mini golf, video games, country and Latin dancing, a Nerf gun war and more. Marrieds, singles, engaged couples, first dates and just friends are all invited to participate. 

Many of the institute events will include interaction with institute directors and their spouses and local young single adult leaders, in addition to food and other activities, explained Clint Mortenson, associate administrator, Seminaries and Institutes. 

Check with your local institute for more details.

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