Skip to main content

Annual Datamatch survey offers UW-Madison students potential dates, new friendships

February 7, 2024 By Sophia Ross

Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is coming up soon, bringing with it the potential pressure of finding someone to spend it with.

Some may be overjoyed to partake in a girl’s night or a casual dinner with friends on that night. Others may treat Feb. 14 like any other random Wednesday. 

But for those fretting about finding a date, one solution is a University of Wisconsin–Madison student organization called Datamatch, whose online survey opened today.

Datamatch serves as a national matchmaking service for students, particularly on Valentine’s Day. The organization started at Harvard University in 1994 and became a UW–Madison student org in 2019.

“The overall goal of our club is to get students to interact with each other, and we hope to do so by providing students a way to connect with students they may not otherwise meet and get some free food out of it,” said Johanna Mejias, a behind-the-scenes leader for Datamatch at UW–Madison.

While the concept of being blindly set up with individuals may seem daunting, the process is simple.  A questionnaire is sent out to all applicants with 15 UW–Madison related questions.

One such question listed on the survey asked users, “Why are you walking ALL the way over to the Bakke?” with potential answer responses like “Sleepy time in the nap pods.”

The responses are sent off to Harvard, where artificial intelligence algorithms pair people, Mejias said. “The service runs a Python script on the night before Valentine’s Day to generate matches automatically.”

About 7,000 UW–Madison students participated last year.

Those who take the survey are paired up with around 10 other users from their university, and each user may choose to match or pass. If the users on both ends of the interaction choose to match with one another, they can connect through the organization’s chat box feature or even through social media. 

To sweeten the pot, prizes are awarded to those who match, including gift cards for pizza  to free passes to events such as WUD’s Board Game Date Night.

Datamatch’s partnering goes beyond just romantic prospects — users can simply check off the platonic option on the survey, and they’ll be matched with someone else just looking for a friend.

Students at UW–Madison looking to get involved in the actual planning process of Datamatch, can join the organization in the fall.

“Datamatch meets every other week in the fall to slowly work on survey questions, partnerships, and event planning,” said Mejias. “Student’s interested in working on the Datamatch website are required to do a six week bootcamp, which can be pretty intense, to familiarize themselves with Javascript and React.”

As of Feb. 7, the survey is up and running. Whether you hope to go on a date with a compatible individual, meet a new friend on campus or even just aim to get into the Valentine’s Day spirit, Datamatch’s pairings might just offer you what you need!