Head to a computer for a hook-up? (Photo: Public Domain Image)
by Karis Hustad, Sophomore, Loyola University
Most college students’ extracurricular activities don’t attract international media attention; but then again, most extracurricular activities don’t offer a service that facilitates casual sex for college students.
Both scenarios are the case for the two UChicago students who created the growing but controversial EduHookups.com, a site that provides a place for students to post anonymous fliratious messages to other users in hopes of later meeting up and hooking up. But one of the site founders “Danny” (who asked not to be identified for privacy reasons), said the site’s popularity was actually a bit of a surprise.
“We started as a coding project, we wanted to find out about the ways the industry works,” he said. “It actually evolved beyond something that we were expecting, so we decided to turn it into something a bit bigger.””
A “bit bigger” may be an understatement. For those of you who haven’t seen features on The Today Show, CBS Chicago, the RedEye or the Italian website CorriereDellaSerra.it, EduHookups.com is a site that seeks to give college students a place to casually meet and hook up through the internet. Only students with a .edu address at pre-approved schools can sign up to be users, and once they register, they post anonymous messages about what they are seeking and whether they want something casual, platonic or serious. At the time of this post, the site had over 1500 users.
The website started not only as a coding project for the two co-founders but also as a play on UChicago’s reputation as a sexually stagnant campus (the original name of the site was UChicagoHookups.com). The masthead below the title turns the school’s unofficial motto on its head: “Where fun comes to die” has been remastered into “Where fun comes to thrive.” Danny, however, insisted the goal was never to do something just for UChicago.
“We really hope that people use it just as a way to meet new people,” he said. “[UChicago is] known as a more socially awkward school, but really college kids are college kids, everybody, I would say, has anxieties about meeting people… you can be a little bit more yourself on the internet, you know face to face is sometimes a little bit intimidating and originally that was our goal and it’s still one of our mission statements.”
And with the site currently live at UChicago, Columbia Chicago, DePaul, SAIC, Northwestern, Yale, Washington University, UIC, Rhode Island School of Design and Brown, Danny noted that it is also a way for students to look further than their own campus for relationships. He mentioned that the site is entirely driven by users- if there is a demand for EduHookUps at a school, they’ll bring it there.
“So Chicago first, that was our goal, and this was because of attention from students,” he said. “We expand when people ask us to expand and that’s how we’ve done it. Northwestern and DePaul were the first to say, “we got a lot of requests”, so we decided expansion is definitely something we’re going to pursue.”
However, a website that advertises casual sex obviously isn’t without a little controversy.
Critics have called out the website for lack of safety and depersonalization of relationships; Jay Leno even joked that the site seemed redundant (“We already have a place where students can hook up for casual sex–it’s called ‘college.'”). But Danny maintains that this is a service modern college students need.
“Ultimately we live in a netro-centric world. Nowadays we do a lot of things through the internet, we make friends online, we do our shopping online, we even go to school online, take classes,” he explained. “And for whatever reason- I don’t know why- but for whatever reason whenever someone starts, creates a tool for meeting people online…there’s always a sort of stigma behind it and for whatever reason that’s the case. And we definitely don’t think it’s the case, we all know how much the internet has evolved…the powerful technologies that have come out of it and we want to promote it.”
But not all college students are thrilled with the concept. Loyola sophomore Missy Turk cited concerns with the message and safety of the website.
“I just think that it takes away from the traditional sense of what it means to be in a relationship and meet people,” she said. “It also concerns me about the safety of the website and the access that other people might have, that it wouldn’t just stay college students.”
Danny maintained that the website has precautions set up to prevent incidents from occurring, and pointed out that colleges already carefully select users.
The site is so anonymous, Danny confessed he didn’t even know if his friends used the site. “Everything is anonymous, we take that very seriously,” he said. “I do know people who have said, “I know people who went on a date, it went well”, but other than that we are pretty good about keeping anonymity.”
Danny said that the site administrators are not users on the site in order to maintain objectivity and anonymity, which means he isn’t benefiting from the site’s purpose. However, he said the hands-on experience in coding and designing a website is irreplaceable.
“A lot of the tools used to code a web site [and] there is definitely a learning curve, it’s not something you can pick up on overnight,” he confessed. “I definitely suggest students try something like this out, especially in our connected world today.”
So if the website wasn’t born out of social necessity for the founders, will it at least relieve the stigma of UChicago, the school that inspired the website “where fun comes to thrive”?
“This kind of thing is always difficult…it’s not going be world shaking, oh now Chicago is known as a place where X and such, but its baby steps,” he said. “Our goal was never to change the world, our goal was to help ourselves, so we really just have to see where that takes us.”
EduHookups.com is currently in the process of launching a new site so campus expansion has been halted. However, if you have questions/comments/suggestions for the site, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do you think of the site? Unneccessary? Indicative of the way college relationships are heading? Comment below and vote in our poll!