Amherst College hopes to create new friendships in dining halls

"Social Cup," in Valentine Dining Hall, encourages students to sit with people they don't know.

Nov. 7—Starting this week, Valentine Dining Hall on the campus of Amherst College, in Massachusetts, is offering a new option for students interested in expanding their social circle. On Tuesday, the Student Health Educators launched the Valentine “social cup” initiative, which encourages students to use blue cups during meals to signal that they are open to sitting with people they don’t know.

For the beginning phase of the program, Dining Services is putting out 36 blue glasses and 20 blue mugs at each meal. When students approach the beverage racks, they will have a choice between regular cups and blue social cups. If students select a social cup, their choice indicates that they would be happy to have the company of a stranger, casual acquaintance, or even a friend with whom they haven’t spoken recently.