An upside-down handset on one of the widespread campus wall phones can only mean one thing: “FOSO was here.”
But while the tradition has been carried on for decades, Fourth South Gerig (FOSO) is no longer content with just flipping campus phones — according to senior FOSO Personnel Assistant (PA) Will Shroyer, the guys also hope to flip pick-a-date culture upside down.
FOSO is the only men’s floor in Gerig Hall. While the floor is small in number, with only 29 students living in one of the smallest dorms on campus, the guys refuse to sit on the sidelines of campus life.
On Feb. 22, during Taylor’s annual Nostalgia Night, FOSO debuted the “FOSO Pick-A-Date Hotline” in a pre-act commercial.
“The whole FOSO Pick-A-Date Hotline thing kind of started out as this running joke as something we all wanted to do — we really did want to just joke about it,” said junior Tyler Marcum. “But I may or may not have found a phone somewhere and may or may not have just taken it. It wasn’t being used, it wasn’t plugged in at all, so I was like, ‘Oh, this is ours now.’”
Gerig previously had campus phones in each hall and even in the rooms, and the guys were able to get one such fixture in a central location fixed and activated.
Upon dialing the FOSO Pick-A-Date Hotline, callers are encouraged to share the date and time of the pick-a-date, what the event will be and a way to contact them.
From there, whoever picked up the phone will text the details to the floor GroupMe, and a willing FOSO guy will accept on a volunteer basis. This way, the caller does not request their pick-a-date pairing, bringing an element of surprise and spontaneity.
“The goal is to remove the aspect of choice,” said sophomore Tim Swanson. “It’s more like, ‘Who’s open for this time?’ and somebody will volunteer and learn the details about who it is after . . . the goal is to make it less ‘who chose who?’”
The phone does not yet have a voicemail machine, but it is functional and ready to be called by anyone seeking a low-pressure, easy-access pick-a-date pal. The phone can be reached at 85577 by other campus phones, but not by personal phones.
Shroyer, one of the most instrumental players in the joke-turned-reality, thought of the hotline during Welcome Weekend this year.
“I thought of a neat idea to help people find low-key, stress-free pick-a-dates,” Shroyer said. “A lot of women complain that their pick-a-dates develop crushes on them or just having really awkward experiences . . . I wanted people to avoid the pressures of the ‘freshman frenzy’ (getting a girlfriend by Thanksgiving) and being able to meet more people on campus and get connected to different floors.”
Shroyer said he thinks pick-a-dates should include good, clean fun without the pressure to commit to anything. The hotline offers a way to avoid the awkwardness of asking a stranger in Bib Lit at the last minute.
It is meant to be lighthearted, casual and a way to ease pick-a-date intimidation.
“We just want you to have a fun experience; we don’t want you to feel dragged down with potential relationships or anything — just go with a bro,” said freshman Zach Winters. “We want you to have fun, that’s the goal.”
As the group of guys bantered about how the hotline could evolve, Marcum ended on a heartfelt note.
Marcum shared what he thought was his personal bottom line for the FOSO Pick-A-Date Hotline.
“As an upperclassman on FOSO, this doesn’t need to take off in a massive way, but it’s really cool to see FOSO finding creative ways to connect with the rest of campus,” Marcum said. “A lot of the guys on this floor are really awesome, but the rest of the campus doesn’t get to experience them like I do.”
Shroyer agrees and hopes to show the campus the true nature of FOSO.
He said he is working on several initiatives for people to get to know the guys better.
“(FOSO has) a lot of pride in our community,” Shroyer said. “We have a reputation on campus for being really wacky and nerdy . . . We are really a bunch of fun-loving guys who participate in a variety of societies and majors, not just computer science and video games.”