April 6, 2005: On the Campus
For the record
Matters of the heart
By P.G. Sittenfeld ’07
For Princeton singles, Valentine’s Day brought the hope that finding Mr. or Ms. Right might be just a few mouse clicks away. The Undergraduate Student Government debuted PrincetonMatch.com — a Web site allowing students to see how compatible they are with other students. Twenty-four hours after the site launched, 700 students were already perusing PrincetonMatch; a month later, almost half the student body had logged on.
Despite the site’s popularity, students say it hasn’t resulted in more courtships. “It’s a fun distraction,” says Cathy Rampell ’07. “But I don’t think it’s going to have a major impact on my love life.”
To find the person they are most compatible with, users complete a 39-question survey in which they describe themselves and their ideal match. The questions touch upon such topics as intellectualism, promiscuity, and neediness, as well as categories that some students found less relevant. “In a boyfriend, I’m not actively seeking a recycler or non-recycler,” Rampell says.
For other students, the compatibility-cruncher spit back less-than-desirable results. “It told me I’m not compatible with a single person on the Princeton campus,” says Daphne Oz ’08. “But it’s OK. I like to think that confirms my high standards.”
Although the USG made sure that PrincetonMatch was up and running in time for Valentine’s Day, it said the site is just for fun and not a dating service. Most students agree that they would never act on the information gleaned from participating in the site.
“I’ll keep my list of best matches in the back of my mind,” says Matt Knauff ’08. “But I’m not sure it would be a very good pickup line to say, ‘Hey, baby, betcha didn’t know we’re 78 percent compatible.’”
The traditionalists, meanwhile, are hardly surprised that love hasn’t blossomed on campus as a result of PrincetonMatch.
“Nerds have been trying to make a science out of love for ages,” says Hugh Meighen ’05. “This just represents their latest effort.”
Love wasn’t just in the air when students awoke on Valentine’s Day — it was plastered to every lamppost and bulletin board across the school. As part of a campaign to raise awareness, Princeton’s Pride Alliance put up more than 1,000 posters featuring gay couples kissing. Written in bold black letters at the top of each poster was “Love = Love.”
“Our goal was to show people that Valentine’s Day isn’t just a heterosexual holiday,” says Pride Alliance president Claire Woo ’06. “It should be a day for everyone, including gay people, to celebrate their love.”
Student reactions varied — but all agreed the posters were hard to miss. “It was definitely an attention-grabbing campaign,” says Nicholas Levy ’07. “But in terms of spreading an attitude of acceptance, I don’t know how much you can really achieve just by putting up posters.”
Josh Andrews ’05, an outspoken campus conservative, filed a complaint with Associate Dean of Undergraduate Students Thomas Dunne in which he argued that the signs did not display their sponsorship and thus violated a University regulation. Dunne upheld Andrews’ complaint and ordered that the posters be taken down.
“Josh used a loophole in the rules to attack us,” Woo says. “I would have had more respect for him if he’d stated his real intentions.”
In yet another take on the late-winter love fest, a dozen students banded together in the name of purity and formed the Anscombe Society, dedicated to promoting conservative sexual conduct.
“We want to provide support for those who wish to lead a chaste lifestyle,” says group vice president David Schaengold ’07. “Promiscuity has become the social norm, and we want to offer an alternative.” The group also opposes abortion and homosexual relationships. The University has officially recognized the Anscombe Society, named after the English philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe, and will provide funding for the group.
Still, the University’s funding was controversial among students. “The group says it’s inclusive, but there’s an institutional bias [against gay people],” says Zach Goldfarb ’05. Goldfarb, former editor-in-chief of the Daily Princetonian, isn’t convinced the student body needs taming. “This is already one of the most chaste campuses I’ve ever seen,” he says. “I think what we need is a sexual-experience society.”
Other students echo that sentiment, suggesting that the group’s membership might be larger than the founders realize. As David Cape ’07 notes: “I think there are a lot of students in the chastity society involuntarily.”
P.G. Sittenfeld ’07 is from Cincinnati, Ohio.
On the Campus Online: Click here to read “Trolling for laughs, bidding for books” by Katherine Reilly ’05.