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Beary romantic: A match made in Berkeley

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FEBRUARY 14, 2020

As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, many people find themselves inundated with a stream of love-centric content — advertisements urging you to spend money on your loved ones, store aisles bursting with candy and flowers and couples everywhere, filled with the spirit of the holiday.

But where to find such a love deserving of a Target mug in this isolating and technology-centered world? Going out and meeting someone? In person while taking a full course load and doing extracurriculars? Online dating is a new possibility, but, as Aziz Ansari said in his novel “Modern Romance,” “Online dating is like a second job that requires knowledge and skills that very few of us have.” Or is it?

In comes the Berkeley Marriage Pact and BearPairs. These Berkeley-centric surveys were created by two different groups of UC Berkeley students in order to match other students up with potential love interests this Valentine’s Day.

The Berkeley Marriage Pact, according to its website, is for people tired of using dating apps. The Pact calls itself a social experiment mixed with a desire to see some more joy in the world.

Daniel Geng, co-creator of the Berkeley Marriage Pact, said in an email that the Pact was created over winter break this year “to see a bit more love in the world.”

“Two years ago Stanford students created a marriage pact that was pretty popular. Last year Michigan students also created a ‘marriage pact’ which went viral,” Geng said in the email. “We saw both of these and wondered why there wasn’t something similar for Berkeley.”

Geng went on to say how he feels the group has created an algorithm it’s excited about — it involves both the Stable Marriage Algorithm, the classic algorithm used to match two different sets, and information gained from analyzing UC Berkeley’s social network.

He said the creators plan to reveal details of the algorithm after matches are sent out on Feb. 14 to prevent people from gaming the system.

When asked about the goal of the Pact, Geng said the Pact could be whatever participants wished it to be, and that the Pact could combat people’s tendencies to be “trapped” in their social circles by exposing them to new people.

“Our goal is certainly to find the best match for people seriously looking for love, but it’s really whatever you wish it to be,” Geng said in his email. “I hope that if people don’t find ‘true love’ through this, they will at least meet somebody that they otherwise wouldn’t normally meet.”

The other service students looking for love can try is BearPairs, created by campus sophomores Angela Lee, Neha Nagabothu and Rishma Murugan.

BearPairs is a separate matchmaking survey for UC Berkeley students. According to the creators, the survey can be used to find friends, love, someone to get food with or simply a new LinkedIn connection.

In a group email statement, the creators said Nagabothu came up with the idea for the survey after seeing the “Calentine’s survey” last year and watching romance movies.

“Cal can seem like a really big place,” the creators said in the email. “We hope our survey helps students feel more welcome by introducing them to new people and giving them a platform to make meaningful connections.”

The creators have been working on this project since July 2019, and referred to themselves as the “OG Cal matchmaking survey.”

The survey asks users for basic information about themselves, and then delves into more serious and “meme-y” questions. The survey also allows users to pick whether they want a romantic or platonic match. Results for BearPairs will be released Feb. 14.

BearPairs is sponsored by four local restaurants — Nom Nom Bánh Mì, Sumo Roll, Bansho Ramen and Romeo’s Coffee — which will provide “duo-friendly” Valentine’s Day discounts to students who participate in the survey.

Alan Dyke, marketing director and business partner of Nom Nom Bánh Mì, said the company sponsored the project to be a part of the community.

“We’re always looking out for ways to be relevant to our audience, (to) reach out to new people,” Dyke said. “It’s a small part, but we’re involved.”

Dyke went on to say the company was offering deals for participants that would help create a nice date or get-together experience for people using the BearPairs service.

“We’ve often seen people who appear to be on dates come into Bánh Mì,” Dyke said. “It’s a sweet thing to see, and we like to create an eating experience.”

Contact Sebastian Cahill at [email protected] .

FEBRUARY 14, 2020