With students from all over the world, the BYU-Idaho campus creates a unique dating culture in Rexburg, where expectations and values often differ from one person to the next.
Dating apps such as Bumble and Mutual aid this unique dating culture. These apps have been helpful to some students, especially this past year when social activities were limited. In fact, many students have used them to form committed relationships that have grown into marriages.
However, an official notice sent out to BYU-I students in April points out the risks of using these apps.
The notice states, “Dating apps are more popular than ever and connecting with new people can be as simple as a quick swipe on your phone. For students, dating apps and social media have become a major way of meeting new people, but they have also created new challenges and safety concerns at the university. Remember, no matter how you met or where you met, no one has the right to commit unwanted sexual acts against you or violate your boundaries in any way.”
Nick Rammell, the Title IX Coordinator for BYU-I, shared that the prompt for students to be cautious when using dating apps is due to a trend of sexual misconduct and assault cases that are linked to the apps.
Some BYU-I students have found a resolution to some of the risks through anonymous Instagram forums.
The popular account @byui_hoesbeforebros is an example of an account that uses anonymous forums. They have followers send in messages or questions about certain men in the community through a Google link. They repost screenshots of these messages and allow for a conversation in the comments.
Here are some examples pulled from the page (for privacy purposes, we have chosen to replace the original names with blanks):
- “Is [blank] dating anyone?”
- “Anyone know anything about [blank]?”
- “Any thoughts or red flags about [blank]?”
Other posts are often in more detail, where someone posting anonymously describes a certain person or interaction that they had with them.
The owner of the page stated in an Instagram message to Scroll, “I wished there was a page that could let all the girls know who to stay away from and who they should date. The culture in Rexburg can be brutal. Many believe that because the majority of us belong to the Church, that sexual assault, or even sex in general, doesn’t happen here. This makes it hard for these women to be believed. So women became silenced and talking about what we’ve gone through became nonexistent.”
The account has different series within its posts, some labeled “Help a girl out” and “Nice guy alert.” With these recurring series, many girls in the community find comfort in asking and answering questions.
Jennifer Anderson, a junior studying business management, expressed some concern about the page.
“I think that it’s a great idea,” Anderson shared. “Though, I feel that it could run into some issues with privacy and legal stuff. What if someone posts something about a dude that just isn’t true? That can ruin someone’s image, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.”
Anderson said that she wishes there was a better way to determine and prevent sexual assault from happening. She feels that in theory, the Instagram page is good, but it could be risky.
“People can talk about their experiences in public or post on their own social media, so I don’t see the difference,” said Lauren Andrews, a freshman studying accounting. “We could gather as a group at the park or library and talk about these experiences. Social media is just making it convenient for us.”
Andrews said she appreciated the anonymous part of the account because she feels that more girls will speak out about their experiences with guys at BYU-I.
“As someone who has had it rough with guys, I appreciate that there is some platform that is just for us girls,” Andrews said.