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Friday, September 24, 2021

Datamatch brings love to UC Davis

UC Davis students introduce Datamatch, a matchmaking service for students

This Valentine’s Day, students had the opportunity to try a dating platform new to UC Davis: Datamatch. Created by students at Harvard University, Datamatch is a free service that helps students find love in college. 

To begin the process, students register online with their college email and fill out a survey specific to their college. On Valentine’s Day, students received the information of 10 other users and have the opportunity to reach out and create a match.

Since its start in 1994, Datamatch has spread to a number of different college campuses, including UC Davis this year.  

Nina Steinkemper, a third-year design and communication double major and the campus leader of Datamatch at UC Davis, first discovered the service through her friends attending universities on the east coast. After hearing about their experiences with matchmaking through the site, Steinkemper was motivated to introduce the service to UC Davis online. 

Upon being accepted through Datamatch’s application process, she created a team for the project and completed tasks, like creating questions for the survey, that were specific to the UC Davis campus. Steinkemper’s initial goal was to have 500 students sign up during this first year and ultimately exceeded her expectations with 985 participants. 

“It was definitely a lot more successful than I expected,” Steinkemper said. “Especially since we’re online and just seeing an Instagram account that’s like, ‘We’ll matchmake you with other students,’ I definitely see a lot of hesitation with that.”

Steinkemper shared that she enjoyed watching the Datamatch process unfold this Valentine’s Day. 

“I’m definitely very glad I did it,” Steinkemper said. “It was a lot of fun this past week, just seeing the numbers go up, hearing about people telling their friends. Especially when the matches came out, […] everyone [was] excited.”

Next year, Steinkemper hopes to grow the Datamatch team at UC Davis. Additionally, she explained that the decision to find love during the pandemic is different for everyone.

“It’s perfectly fine to not be on the lookout for love right now, I know that I’m not,” Steinkemper said. “But I think that, especially since we’re in college, and this has been going on for almost a year now, it’s normal for students to still try to have that experience.”

Kendall Roberts, a third-year managerial economics major and a campus member for Datamatch at UC Davis, helped coordinate the social media and outreach efforts involved in the project. Roberts joined this project with her friends, including Steinkemper, in an effort to bring people together. 

“We thought it would be really cool if we did it, especially because we’re all off campus right now, and it’s really hard to meet people who are in similar situations to ourselves,” Roberts said.

For Roberts, the experience working on Datamatch was valuable, and she relayed that above all the matchmaking service provided students with something to smile about during this difficult time. 

“I think it was definitely worth it; people […] got a fair amount of entertainment out of it,” Roberts said. “I think that was the goal anyway: you might not be finding your forever match on Datamatch, but […] we’re all separated and I think it brought everyone together.”

Isabelle Zheng, a third-year computer science major at Harvard University and the supreme cupid for Datamatch, explained that she decided to get involved with Datamatch because she could gain experience in design and web development in addition to contributing to a service that creates positive experiences for students.

“My freshman year, it was the extracurricular I most wanted to get involved in because I thought it was so cool—and unlike many other extracurricular activities, there’s not really an ulterior motive attached to it,” Zheng said via email. “It’s just fun and makes people happy.”

Zheng’s role as supreme cupid involves coordinating all of the teams across campuses, while also setting goals to ensure efficiency. She shared that Datamatch began expanding to new schools around 2018 and that they continue to be open to students willing to write their own survey questions and publicize the service on their campuses.

Zheng’s hope is that Datamatch offers students new connections that they otherwise might not seek out, and she encouraged new universities to introduce Datamatch. 

 “All too often, it’s easy to get caught up in work and other stresses, and not have the opportunity to meet new people just for the sake of it,” Zheng said via email. “Datamatch’s main goal is to offer an excuse for people to meet each other, especially if they otherwise wouldn’t have met. If you think that your school would benefit from that, then you should introduce Datamatch.”

Written by: Nora Farahdel — features@theaggie.org

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