“Google won’t see you. Facebook won’t see you. Friends won’t see you. Canadians won’t see you. Assange won’t see you.”
So reads the advertisement for DateMySchool, an online dating site exclusively for college students. Columbia University M.B.A. students Blazas Alexa and Jean Meyer created the site in 2010 as a way to connect college students and alumni through a secure, unsearchable network.
“I realized that there is a population on campus of very educated people from similar social backgrounds who don’t have time to date,” Meyer said in a 2012 interview with Fox News. “We saw a strong need for a platform that would connect students across different departments and campuses.”
DateMySchool has nearly 200,000 registered members, all of whom are either college students or recent alumni. Users’ profiles cannot be found through search engines, nor are they visible to anyone who does not have an account with the site. Even then, users can limit who is able to see their profile by geographical location, school, or even department.
Though the site aims to normalize online dating and make it a natural part of college culture, its emphasis on secrecy and anonymity indicate otherwise; for all its increasing popularity, online dating still carries a stigma. Maddy, a student at The New School—who, in the spirit of online dating, requested to remain anonymous—has used DateMySchool in New York City, but rarely tells her friends where she met her boyfriend. She has found, however, that the site makes it much easier to meet other singles in the big city.
“It’s nice because it’s convenient, and I can take my time sifting through the people [and] talking to them before I even have to go out with them,” Maddy said. “I’m also pretty shy in person, so this helps with that.”
Though Maddy has had some unsuccessful match-ups through DateMySchool, she also found her first serious relationship through the service.
“My friend went on a date with this guy through the site before I signed up, and when she showed me his profile I was just like, ‘This is the guy for me,’” she said. “So I made a profile, we went out, and voila! My first college boyfriend.”
Even though DateMySchool—by virtue of its name—would seem to promote dating and relationships among college students, there is still a substantial focus on engineering quick, relatively anonymous hookups.
“It’s interesting how quickly it all just turns to sex,” Maddy said. “There really are some great people on there, but you have to be willing to dig around.”
Wesleyan students are no strangers to the Internet-engineered fling. Just take a look at the Anonymous Confession Board (wesacb.net) on any given night: there are typically dozens of requests for company, sexual or otherwise, ranging from “quickie in the stacks” to “just want to cuddle.” Regardless of whether these requests are fulfilled, the sentiment is still there: people, including Wesleyan students, crave company, and often turn to the Internet to find it.
Perhaps sensing this, Jesse Vincent ’98 created WeScam, a Wesleyan-specific matchmaking website launched every spring at the end of the semester. The site allows seniors to add other students on campus to a personal list and similarly allows underclassmen to compile a list of seniors’ names.
If two users add one another, the identity of each is revealed to the other. More often than not, however, one student will add another to his or her list without being added in return; the added student will then receive an email and can decide whether or not he or she wishes to find out who the secret admirer is. Since its creation nearly 15 years ago, the site has remained consistently successful.
“WeScam started in 1998 as a distraction from a final project for Professor Hope Weissman’s ‘Pornography’ class,” Vincent wrote on the original site page in 2004. “That first year, it ended up satisfying the final project requirement for that class, as well as satisfying a large number of Wesleyan students.”
Yet WeScam isn’t for everyone. Though some students enjoy the chance at a last shot with a graduating senior, others find the focus on short-lived flings to be a turn-off. Given that any student, whether interested in using the service or not, can be added to another student’s list, some find the practice invasive.
“I got WeScammed last year, and it really freaked me out,” Rebecca Caspar-Johnson ’15 said. “I didn’t know who it was, and I was kind of confused and frightened. I sent them a message asking who they were, and they tried to give me hints, and then I got freaked out and left the site. I’ve never talked to someone who actually thought it helped them find a hook-up, but I’m sure it happens.”
WeScam and DateMySchool are just two in an ever-increasing pool of matchmaking websites. There truly is a dating site for every type of person—from college students to senior citizens and from cat lovers to cougars—and though the sites keep multiplying, online dating still goes relatively unrecognized on Wesleyan’s campus. But if you’re feeling lonely on Valentine’s Day, why not take a look around? You never know—you might meet your match through The Official Clown Dating Agency and live happily ever after.