By Danielle Cantey

Eating alone may not be as sad as it seems with Dartmouth’s Social Cups program./PHOTO VIA Flickr user Jim Pennucci

We’ve all experienced the anxiety of entering a crowded lunch room alone on the first day of middle or high school. In those awkward grade school years, finding someone to sit with could be a daunting task. Sitting alone generally indicated you were some sort of social pariah. But once college begins, those anxieties and stereotypes about dining hall sociability disappear…or do they? Eating alone shouldn’t be an indication of loneliness or social status, but sometimes it is.

According to an article in The Dartmouth, Christopher McMillian, a senior at Dartmouth College, has implemented the Dartmouth Social Cup Program. The program is designed to combat the awkwardness of eating alone with special red cups. When the red cups are used in lieu of Dartmouth’s regular clear cups, they indicate that the student using it wouldn’t mind company. While there are students who have made fun of the program and others who complain about the cups’ ineffectiveness, the idea behind them is brilliant.  As McMillian says in the article, “Students often feel uncomfortable or awkward when they are eating alone.”

The social cups are aimed at ameliorating some of the awkwardness associated with meeting new people.  The cups may be ineffective when most people have established solid friend groups, but the program has great potential for freshman entering in the fall. What better way to improve freshman year than with a red cup that encourages people to come up and talk to you.

College Confidential features the perilous task of eating alone as a hot topic. Go to any dining hall on BU’s campus, and you’ll see a variety of diners: people eating alone, two people eating together, and people eating with groups of friends. In college and in life, eating alone is often a result of busy schedules and convenience. Luckily for those who feel too uncomfortable to embrace the solidarity of solo eating at Dartmouth, these red cups may just be the solution.