With the pandemic blues keeping most from finding new relationships, one University of Wisconsin chapter club is doing what they can to bring some hope and excitement to campus. In the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, Datamatch will host their annual survey for students to find love or form fun, lasting connections.
Unlike Tinder or Bumble, Datamatch is a matching service for the college campuses. And, as Head Cupid, Computer Science and Engineering major Caelan Kleinhans puts it, it’s way less pressure and much more fun.
“You can either choose to get matched with people for friendship, or you can choose to get matched for love or you can choose a mixture of both,” Kleinhans said. “It’s really available to everybody no matter what you’re looking for.”
Datamatch started making surveys at Harvard 26 years ago, connecting students with easy, entertaining questions and sometimes free food from local restaurants. Initially a side project of the Harvard Computer Society, it’s now an official club with over 20 chapters across the nation.
Each club has their own variations, but most compile their resources for a big Valentine’s Day survey. While geared toward matchmaking couples, the survey is not exclusively for romantic partners. The questionnaire helps pair like-minded students, garnering connections that go beyond those made with simple icebreakers.
This will be UW’s third year participating in the survey-building fun, and with roughly 10 members, the group works hard to bring Datamatch projects to Madison each year. Aside from V-Day, the chapter has also developed a survey for freshmen at the beginning of the year called “Meet24.”
“All the freshmen were coming into college during COVID,” Kleinhans said. “They decided it would be really cool if they did sort of the same thing as Valentine’s Day but less romantic.”
Even in the short time it’s been here, the surveys have gained massive popularity. Last year alone, over 4,200 students participated in the Valentine’s Day rendition. And with COVID-19 keeping most inside for the day, this number could drastically increase. As of 4 p.m. Feb. 9, nearly 2,500 UW students had registered for this year’s event.
It’s a way to enjoy Valentine’s Day without the potential risk of close contact or public venturing. And with the way the club develops them, Datamatch surveys are hilarious and almost irresistible.
The club is known for its goofy and intriguing assortment of questions, and each chapter has more specific questions related to their community. The UW club, for example, will discuss classes, activities, student life and other aspects of a Badger’s experience.
Before the day of love and dread, the UW-themed survey will be available for students to take and form their matches. Then, based on their survey responses, students will be matched with other students to chat and connect with. Along with this, Datamatch has a few new features for students to enjoy.
The most exciting of the updates is “Crush Roulette,” which allows students to play with the algorithm. Along with matching people based on their responses, participants can submit two people they want to be matched together and they’ll have a slightly higher chance of it.
The program allows students to mark if they are on- or off-campus and also if they’re comfortable with virtual or safe in-person hangouts. Along with chatting online, Datamatch will host a series of virtual escape rooms participants can navigate with their new friends. Forget meeting for coffee — what better way to bond than escaping digital peril together?
Datamatch has also partnered with a couple of restaurants to highlight great deals and spread the word about their survey.
Participants will be automatically entered into a gift card raffle for Ian’s Pizza, and those who go to Café Social and mention Datamatch will get a BOGO deal on certain drinks.
UW Datamatch hopes to help students form relationships they’ve missed out on due to the pandemic. This is why the group is doing what they can to spread the word, which has been somewhat difficult.
They usually advertise their survey with posters and flyers around campus hotspots, but because most people are working from home, Datamatch developers worry it won’t reach as many in the student body. But with the importance of connection ever-present, Kleinhans is hopeful that this year’s survey will host record numbers.
“It’s another fun avenue for people to get to know other people they wouldn’t have gotten to know otherwise,” Kleinhans said.
The UW Datamatch survey opened Feb. 6 at 11 p.m. and will close Feb. 13 at 11 p.m. Questions on the survey, updates and deals can be found by emailing the chapter at [email protected]. If you’re interested in joining the team of coders, marketers, writers and overall cupids, contact Datamatch for more information.