ROMANCE FOR RAMS ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB

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By Chi Nguyen

Intern

If meeting people in the Hub or in Jorgenson Hall isn’t your cup of tea, RyersonDating.com may offer an alternative for meeting new friends and possible dates.

That is, if more students sign up for it. Mike McCarthy, a graduate from Trent University’s Business Administration program, has taken the concept of a university-based dating and networking website and created one for each of Ontario’s 17 major universities.

Each of the sites are the same, save for different options for program enrolment and on- and off-campus locations. Thinking Trent University to be lacking common meeting grounds, McCarthy found it difficult to start new friendships and relationships.

“Class sizes were too big. Students really didn’t want to hang out on campus for very long, and weren’t taking advantage of the opportunities on campus,” he said. “TrentDating.com provided me with a fun way to meet other students who were single, and gain many new friendships along the way.”

He dedicated the summer of 2005 to improving and updating the site to get it up to par with “big players” in online dating, such as Lavalife. Once satisfied with the results, McCarthy started working on developing variations for each major Ontario university. By December 2005, all 17 sites were set up.

“I spent so many months working on the site, I figure, why limit myself to Trent?” McCarthy said. Membership at RyersonDating.com is free. Members must be 18 years or older, and are attending the correct university, though neither can be verified by the website.

For now, Ryerson’s version of the dating service only has seven members. Felix Chan, a second-year Mechanical Engineering student, said that he found out about the site from his friend. “I signed up for fun, but it won’t work since so little people know about this website… maybe if people were more open to this idea.”

Chan thinks that RyersonDating.com could be more appealing to Ryerson students than other dating websites, since the social network is within the school. “There is automatically an element of trust in a relationship, no matter how casual, once they are in the same social circle,” he said. McCarthy agrees.

“It’s great. You can finally talk to students who are in the residence building next to you, who you would never talk to,” he said. Online dating websites have become popular; though they were initially for adults, websites are now targeting younger users.

Lavalife, one of the leading providers of technology-based meeting services and Canada’s number one dating site, caters to adults. Meanwhile, sites like MeetmeinTO.com and Tdotwire.com allow members as young as 15 to sign up.

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