Racy college hookups site hits campus

By Amanda Murphy

by: Lisa Schulz, Contributing Writer

In early February, a University of Chicago student currently known as Steve created a website called UChicagoHookups.com, a dating site for U of C students dedicated to casual sexual encounters.

Since then, the site has expanded to include other colleges and allows anyone with a college email address, including faculty and staff, to participate in the website, now known as EduHookups.com.

Columbia was the second college allowed to post personal advertisements on the site, followed by Northwestern University. According to Steve, Columbia was “fairly well-known” and had the most requests to access the site.

He said the schools were also added for ease in proximity. But within the week, the website had demands from schools across the globe. The 1,300 EduHookups.com users have anonymity, and the site’s policy restricts anyone without a college email address from posting on the site.

“It’s [a way] to try before you buy,” said Steve, a biology major at U of C. “The whole idea is that the people can say exactly what they’re looking for.”

Steve said the expansion of the site beyond U of C makes the connection with other students easier to establish. However, EduHookups.com allows users to register under the colum.edu domain, which is used by Columbia faculty and staff.

“We did not confirm whether [it] was students [using the colum.edu domain] or whether it included more people,” Steve said. “It’s up to the user to determine if they feel they would be eligible to use the site. People in a position of authority must still abide by their code of conduct.”

The site originated in 2010 as a coding project for a group of anonymous U of C undergraduates. According to the website, it quickly evolved into a dating site aimed at facilitating hookups on campus and demystifying the school’s reputation as a place where “fun comes to die,” and where “the squirrels are cuter than the girls and more aggressive than the guys.”

According to Wilfredo Cruz, associate professor of sociology at Columbia, students participate in online intimacy websites for the adrenaline rush from rebelling against society’s norms.

“We’re socialized to believe you meet somebody, you date them, you get to know

them and then you get intimate,” Cruz said.

He sees the website as an “illogical” way of meeting people and having relationships, considering the possibilities of sexually transmitted infections.

Yet some students see the positive aspects of casual encounters provided by a student-based site.

“It’s better for young people—it’s college,” said Michael Hernandez, junior arts, entertainment and media management major. “You don’t have all the old people from dating sites.”

Although the user database includes almost an equal number of both genders, most of the posts requesting casual encounters are made by males, Steve said. According to Cruz, different sexual behaviors between genders are most likely the cause of this.

“[Males] don’t have the same reservation about sexuality women have,” Cruz said. “They’re more reckless. Women are more timid.”

However, some female students say it’s more than social norms that hold them back from posting on the site. According to Ellen Frank, freshman arts, entertainment and media management major, EduHookups.com is embarrassing to her peers.

“I don’t need to put my body up for sale,” Frank said.

The website has already expanded its services to DePaul University and Loyola University Chicago and has plans to include Washington University, Yale Law School and will eventually include all Ivy League schools, Steve said. The site releases colleges one by one to increase popularity and stagger the number of users from the high demands of each college. EduHookups.com aims to extend its services globally in the future.

“We’re trying to bring power to social networking,” Steve said.