By Nathaniel Crouch
As of late March 2020, the news cycle is filled with countless announcements of cancellations and shutdowns, everything from large Expos to the local coffee shop in someone’s neighbourhood due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. As The Eye previously reported, Ryerson itself is closed and all classes moved online for the duration of the year. Simply being within six feet of a person is the last thing we’re supposed to be doing.
Despite the distancing, though, James Heaney, a third-year mechanical engineering student and Reza Khonsari, a fourth-year civil engineering student, are still hoping to bring people together through the launch of their Ryerson only dating app, RU Mine.
With the entire university on hold until further notice, the idea of a university-specific dating app seems dead in the water. But according to Heaney and Khonsari, the future looks bright for RU Mine users.
“I think [COVID-19] will increase the number of people using this service,” said Heaney. “The traditional way of [dating] is not really going to work anymore. I feel like a lot of students are going to come to RU Mine just to meet their classmates or meet people from the community.”
Between midterms and changing the programming language, the app launch is scheduled to launch at the end of the month. The app has undergone three coding language changes all in an effort to ensure that it’s capable of supporting the number of expected users.
On Valentines’ day, Heaney and Khonsari ran a survey to see how many students would be interested in the app and got over 2,000 sign-ins to the survey. “We’ll have to get one or two more servers up to make sure it can handle the load,” said Heaney.
Students that want to participate can from no matter where they are as there is no geo-restriction with the app; if you have a Ryerson email address then you are good to go and you don’t need to be on campus to see other students.
As the app launches, users are still informed of the necessity of practicing social isolation.
“There will be a little announcement section that updates everyone on Toronto’s current standing on the COVID-19,” said Khonsari, “We have a chance to push a specific message regarding that. We are going to be pushing our users to find innovative ways of meeting up with their dates.”
Heaney says the situation right now is going to impact how students using the app will interact with one another, but there are a bunch of alternatives that people can use. “Built directly into the app there is an instant messaging feature, but beyond that, there are a bunch of the existing video services available like FaceTime or Skype.”