It’s no secret that COVID-19 has limited college students' ability to meet new people. But, that didn’t stop USC student Jonathan Liu from trying to make online dating a little easier.
On Nov. 9, Liu, a student in Marshall, made a post on Facebook entitled “USC Dating Event!” including a questionnaire he made with the help of Stanford student, Albert Pun.
The questionnaire only takes five minutes and asks basic biographical questions.. Users then have the option to answer more personal prompts about things ranging from their political beliefs to personality traits.
The questionnaire was originally posted in the Kedon Slovis Fan Club Facebook group, but was removed by the page’s admin after receiving over 200 comments.
So far, the post has generated over 300 signups by verified USC students and Liu and Pun are searching for ways to get more participants.
When Liu created the post, he wasn’t expecting it to receive so much traction.
“I was definitely really surprised about how active the Facebook post was,” Liu said in an interview with Annenberg Media. “[And] how many people were tagging their friends and their classmates. So just being able to see us actually able to provide a good service for my friends and their classmates was really surprising.”
Grant Stenger, an applied math and computer science major, filled out the questionnaire after seeing it on the Facebook group and is currently waiting to be matched. He is excited about the potential that comes with this new way of online dating that is based on community.
“I think [dating apps] have been around for enough time and have been successful,” said Stenger. “I think it’s actually a good way to sort of pair people that have similar interests up and people who otherwise wouldn’t meet.”
Though many USC students use other dating apps like Tinder or Bumble, Liu says his vision eliminates some of the typical concerns with online dating.
“[With] other dating apps, there’s a lot of issues with ghosting [or] not being able to trust everyone’s profiles,” Liu said. “So our USC event really solves some of these main issues by allowing students to match with other verified USC students and we actually set up the first date for them.”
For the USC matchmaking event, once students find their matches, the service will set up times that the matches are available to have their virtual first date and create a video call calendar invite for them.
The questionnaire’s co-creator, Albert Pun, a master’s student at Stanford studying computer science, has done matchmaking events like this one at his campus and found that after the event and Zoom date, participants usually coordinate and go on in-person second dates.
Though COVID-19 safety guidelines and restrictions make traditional in-person dates practically impossible, students like Stenger understand the importance of relationships and human interaction for their mental health.
“I think there are definitely pros and cons to this,” Stenger said. “I think some of the psychological states of being sort of isolated and COVID ... it’s really hard on people. Humans are such social creatures, we really get a lot of energy from being around people.”
While dating apps are popular for connecting people with love interests, Stenger said they also allow other connections to form such as friendships, or even business relationships. After all, the most important part is that they connect like-minded people.
Though the original post was taken down, Liu and Pun are working to get it put back up for more users to participate. So, Trojans who are still searching for love might just be in luck.