Screenshot of “NYU Hook-Ups,” one of many student-run dating pages that have been created recently.
Jean Blatchford, 22, was on Facebook last month when he saw that several peers at the University of Washington in Seattle had liked a page called “University of Washington Hook Ups.”
Inspired by a similar idea he had in an entrepreneurship class, Blatchford, a senior, contacted the page creator to help further the localized database for dating and mating.
A week later, students’ self-made dating profiles flooded the page’s inbox — from which an anonymous University of Washington freshman posted them without names. Based on information like gender and turn offs, those interested in a profile comment on it — which reveals their name — allowing the anonymous student to directly message the person and arrange a date.
When Blatchford relaunches the page for spring semester, it will be called “Dawg Dates,” since “the name with ‘Hook Ups’ had a grimy connotation,” he said.
With the new name, he hopes there will be at least a match per day.
This particular Facebook phenomenon caught on in December at New York University with a page called NYU Hook Ups.
Based on student-run pages like NYU Compliments and NYU Secrets, at least 12 other colleges in the United States have created similar hook-up hubs.
“The other NYU pages made kind of a big splash in the community this year for linking the students together,” NYU junior Jillian Shainman, 20, said. “Even though NYU Hook Ups takes it to a creepier place, it’s good in that it’s bringing people together.”
Since it launched, NYU Hook Ups has accumulated nearly 2,000 likes and 240 profiles — ranging from those interested in a one night stand to an ongoing relationship. Approximately 34% females and 66% males have created profiles — comparable to the ratio on Blatchford’s page.
There have been joke submissions, but the moderators try not to post those, Blatchford said.
At Emory University, though, most Emory Hook-Ups profiles are dedicated to making jokes, sophomore Jacob Ginsberg, 19, said.
“Anytime you have an anonymous posting people will joke about it because it doesn’t have a professional type setting like an online dating thing,” Ginsberg said. “If I’m going to look for someone I’m not going to go to a page with an immature title.”
Though NYU Hook Ups features comparatively more serious profiles, some at the school regard the page as a joke as well, freshman Georgia Baker, 19, said.
While dating profiles are anonymous once posted, Shainmain said she is leery of creating a profile on NYU Hook Ups because her peers — the student moderators — can read her profile and know it’s her.
“Potentially knowing the third party that’s processing all the information makes it different than eHarmony where there’s a certain layer of privacy,” Shainman said. “I want to keep this kind of stuff private.”
Though these pages may not foster romance, at a minimum, they do help students connect with those they don’t already know on campus, Shainman said.
Blatchford said there have also been safety concerns about the process. But the moderators, like those on many dating websites, don’t claim responsibility for anything beyond posting profiles.
“People like to feel comfortable behind anonymity but with profile details,” Blatchford said. “People feel more comfortable behind that shield. As long as people are happy, healthy and safe, that’s what I’m going for.”
While he hopes students continue to flirt and ask each other out in person, the page serves as a back up in case the traditional process doesn’t work.
If Dawg Dates is successful, Blatchford said he plans to use the model to create a dating website for University of Washington beyond Facebook.
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