You could say it’s spreading faster than the clap at a spring-break resort hotel.
EduHookups.com, launched by two students in a University of Chicago dorm room, has grown in a matter of two months from what one of the site’s architects refers to as a “fun personal-computer coding project” to a national college sex personals site.
For anyone who’s seen The Social Network, the rapid expansion of eduHookups rings as a lesser version of the earliest days of Facebook. The message board–style site first offered registration only for students with @uchicago.edu e-mail addresses. Its tagline (“Where fun comes to thrive”) spoofed U. of C.’s buttoned-up reputation as a place “where fun comes to die.” The hundreds who registered began posting inquiries about activities such as “A.F.F. (After-finals fun)” and creatively employed academic innuendo (“Lie tangent to these curves…”).
Last week, the founders rebranded the site as eduHookups, which coincided with opening registration to students at Columbia College, the School of the Art Institute, and DePaul, Loyola and Northwestern universities. They also tacked on schools outside Chicago, including Brown, Yale, the Rhode Island School of Design and Washington University in St. Louis.
Even Jay Leno took notice, offering a rare chuckle-worthy crack during his opening monologue on The Tonight Show: “A place to hook up with college kids? There’s already a place for that. It’s called college!”
While eduHookups has been storming college campuses, the men behind the site, who go by the pseudonyms “Steve” and “Danny,” have chosen to stay out of the spotlight. “[Anonymity is] a matter of personal privacy,” Steve said over the phone last week, his nasal voice landing in the Bill Gates register. “I really don’t want to be known every time I walk somewhere.”
After some prodding, the U. of C. upperclassman revealed a few biographical details: He’s “20 years old, give or take a year,” a biology major in the pre-med track and originally from Chicago. “Computers are just sort of a passion of mine,” he says. “I’m really into programming and computer science.”
And like many of his site’s users, Steve is single. “People have been asking me if I use [eduHookups] for my own personal gain, and the answer is no,” he says. “I can’t say I’ve found anyone I’m too into.”
The insistence on anonymity has allowed eduHookups creators to evade personal scrutiny, but the site itself has drawn criticism. On March 31, DePaul and Loyola administrators issued statements warning students away. DePaul said it “strongly recommends that its students avoid the potentially dangerous and anonymous situations that this new website facilitates.”
“We don’t condone students putting themselves into dangerous situations, either,” replies cofounder Danny, who offered no hints of his identity. “We would not want students to jeopardize their academics or future careers in any way. We hope students will realize that there is an opportunity to be safe and smart and use our website at the same time.”
The founders say the mild backlash is an unfortunate distraction but not a setback to further expansion or rough plans to monetize the site with advertising.
As for comparisons to Mark Zuckerberg’s billion-dollar brainchild? “I’d like to be humble,” Steve says. “I don’t think we’re ever going to be as big as Facebook. We’re not trying to.”
“Anyone can use some help to lessen the stress from work and classes on top of some company, right?! International students (or Americans who understand why one would prefer international students) preferred.”
“The semester is almost over... I’m a senior... I used my left over scholarship money to get a boob job... i spent too much time studying and now i’m ready to cut loose... any takers?”
“i’ve been told i resemble shah rukh khan, except a bit darker and more muscular. proud to say i’m a brother of of the notorious alpha delt fraternity, where i’m kind of a big deal.”