UC Berkeley students seek to connect peers with launch of bearMatch

bearMatch
David McAllister/Staff
On the bearMatch website, students can enter their name, campus email, year and major and provide the full names of three UC Berkeley students they are interested in.

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In an effort to relive the nostalgia of crushes passing notes in grade school, campus seniors Parth Chopra and Jon Gill launched a website to recreate the experience for UC Berkeley students.

Released Sept. 9, bearMatch — formerly known as CalBearMatch — is an online platform designed to help campus students anonymously connect with their “crushes,” according to Chopra. Since then, the site has received more than 1,500 users and has made 400 matches.

“We wanted to do it in a way that was kind of friendly and it was very reminiscent of what we used to do when it came to having crushes on people,” Chopra said. “It was kind of inspired by nostalgia.”

On the website, students can enter their name, campus email, year and major and provide the full names of three UC Berkeley students they are interested in. Gill said the site then finds their publicly available campus email addresses and sends an email to those three students, with the email only informing recipients of the year and major of the bearMatch user.

When a student gets an email from bearMatch indicating that someone has a crush on them, they have the choice to fill out a form indicating who their three crushes are, Gill said. If two students select each other, the program sends the two students a congratulatory email.

Although the creators said the site is mostly designed to be lighthearted and fun, campus senior Ravi Jotwani matched with a longtime friend who he began dating shortly thereafter.

“I sent the first ‘like,’ ” Jotwani said. “I don’t know if right off the bat she knew it was me or not, but eventually, she gave me a ‘like’ back. It was matching and we started talking.”

On Aug. 3, Stanford University sophomore Ishan Gandhi released Stanford Link, a website that, like bearMatch, allowed users to enter the names of students they were interested in and sent them an email if their crushes liked them back, according to an article from The Stanford Daily. Stanford Link faced privacy concerns early on, however, as student names, emails and crushes were leaked to The Stanford Daily. The site is now offline.

After it went live in September, Chopra and Gill took their site down for a week over copyright law and similar privacy concerns, Chopra said. During that time, they tested the site for possible security issues, removed images of Oski from the website and rebranded it from CalBearMatch to bearMatch.

“We’ve always been on the lookout for things we can do, if we can help other people,” Gill said. “This is not something that we want to necessarily make into a product or monetize in any way; it’s literally just a platform to help our students.”

Contact David Villani at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @davidvillani7.