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Datamatch Spreads the Love Bug to Brown, Columbia, Wellesley

Frozen yogurt at Berryline is one of the options for subsidized dates offered by Datamatch.
Frozen yogurt at Berryline is one of the options for subsidized dates offered by Datamatch. By Margaret F. Ross
By Simone C. Chu and Idil Tuysuzoglu, Crimson Staff Writers

UPDATED: February 7, 2018 at 2:42 p.m.

Datamatch, Harvard's popular student-created matchmaking algorithm, is spreading for the first time to Brown, Columbia, and Wellesley.

Since 1994, Datamatch—the Harvard Computer Society’s annual Valentine’s Day matchmaking survey— has set up thousands of dates between undergraduates at the College. Matches can go to eat free food at sponsors like Zinneken’s, El Jefe’s, BerryLine, and Flour Bakery.

Nearly 5,000 Harvard students registered for the program in 2017. With Datamatch’s expansion to three new colleges, more registrants are expected this year.

According to HCS Business Manager Russell F. Pekala ’19, Wellesley College student Madeleine A. Barowsky reached out to the Datamatch team asking to bring the program to her campus, while Datamatch reached out to students at Brown and Columbia universities.

Although Datamatch was created by HCS, co-Business Leaders Pekala and Sam L. Goldman ’19 said they mainly partnered with campus publications instead of technology-based clubs at other schools in order to develop survey questions catered to each campus.

“We wanted this to be a fun thing for our developers, who would work on a project that’s scaling up,’” Goldman said.

Each school’s edition will be unique, Pekala said.

“They each have a different sense of humor, obviously, and we struggled a little bit with deciding how much freedom to give them, in deciding what the questions would be and what the tone would be, how serious they would be, how many memes there would be in the questions, what kind of words could be used,” he said.

The staff of Columbia’s humor magazine, The Jester, was tasked with writing Columbia-specific Datamatch questions.

“I have been getting a lot of messages from people over the last few days asking if it’s up yet,” said Supriya Ambwani, co-editor-in-chief of The Jester.

Barnard College is participating in Columbia's Datamach.

Wellesley has secured a partnership with local eatery Truly Yogurt and is working on developing other relationships with other nearby businesses. Neither Columbia nor Brown has sponsorships with local eateries like Harvard’s program to date, though some students say they hope this part of the program will be included in the future.

Brown sophomore Sarah E. Berman said she initially heard about the program through a Facebook post.

“I thought it was a hackathon or something and I clicked on it. It was not," she said. “Honestly, I think it’s kind of funny."

While Goldman said he was excited about Datamatch’s introduction to other campuses, he said he recognized that each school’s program might not receive as much of a turnout as Harvard’s version.

“This is very much a trial run for the expansion, so if we have 80 percent student participation here, presumably it’s not going to be anywhere close to that on the other campuses,” Goldman said. “But hopefully, it goes smoothly, we have a nice pipeline, we have other student groups that are interested. And then, in future years, we scale up.”

This article has been updated to reflect the following correction and clarification.

CORRECTION: February 7, 2018

A previous version of this article incorrectly indicated that Wellesley College had not secured any partnerships with local eateries for its version of Datamatch. In fact, Wellesley partnered with local eatery Truly Yogurt.

CLARIFICATION: February 7, 2018

A previous version of this article indicated that Russell F. Pekala ’19 and Sam L. Goldman ’19 are business managers for Datamatch. To clarify, they are the business leaders for the program.

—Staff writer Simone C. Chu can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @simonechu_.

—Staff writer Idil Tuysuzoglu can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @IdilTuysuzoglu.

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