For students who have lost faith in Tinder and OkCupid, a new dating platform has emerged: UPenn Singles Meet.
Just a few weeks ago, College sophomore Joseph Ebner and College junior Zach Howell created the Facebook group. Despite its recent creation, the group already has about 200 members and continues to grow by the day.
Noticing that Penn students are often overwhelmed with academic and extracurricular responsibilities, Ebner and Howell identified a need for Penn students to have a convenient way to connect.
“We just found that here at Penn, [with] balancing the work and everything like that, it is really hard to go out and actually form a meaningful relationship,” Howell said.
“We expedite the process of meeting people,” Ebner added.
Ebner and Howell have invented different ways to encourage the members of the group to bond. A member of the page is profiled each day, and their pictures and interests are posted for other members to see. The profiles are intended to be humorous and exaggerated to break down social barriers and incite conversation.
“We provide ice breakers and conversation starters for people that can come on the group and see us being a little silly perhaps, and not feel embarrassed to put themselves out there,” Howell said.
Ebner and Howell also post funny questions to the group for members to comment on. The questions are loosely based off of The New York Times article “36 Questions on the Way to Love.”
“We have questions that are very trenchant — they penetrate the personal thoughts of the person, ” Ebner said.
Interactions between group members range from replying to each other’s posts on the group to private messaging. Through these interactions, members of the group can get to know their peers on a deeper level and see where their interests align. UPenn Singles Meet is intended to promote deeper connections among students than a standard dating website.
For this reason, Ebner and Howell argue that UPenn Singles Meet is distinct from Tinder or any of the other dating sites commonly used by college students.
“We are looking to get people to connect and communicating. It is not so much based off looks,” Howell said.
Although the members generally match themselves, Ebner and Howell have taken the initiative to encourage members that they feel have similar interests and senses of humor to communicate. Some members have also taken a private survey which helps Ebner and Howell gauge their interests and values.
“We hope that more students will have the opportunity to form more meaningful relationships,” Ebner said.
To get the word out, Ebner and Howell plan to distribute flyers on Locust. They also hope to gain administrative approval for a speed-dating night where group members can meet face-to-face in an organized setting.
In the future, Ebner and Howell hope to create an app to complement their Facebook group. They hope to make online dating more widely accepted as students realize it can be an effective way to meet other students.
“Right now we find people are a lot more hesitant but if we can get people to get really comfortable where they are willing to put themselves out there we think it could be really great,” Howell said.
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