As thousands of people across the globe are ordered to stay in their homes, many have turned to baking, reading or painting. Two Bowdoin students, however, have opted for a different activity: matchmaking.
The pair, who wish to remain anonymous, created Bowdoin Quarantine Matches, a platform that uses a Google Forms survey in order to match students with similar interests.
“Inspired by OKZoomer, a matching service that connects college students to each other, Bowdoin Quarantine Matches aims to connect Bowdoin students who never got their chance at their spring love, senior week, or ivies fling,” the introduction to Quarantine Matches’ Google form reads.
The Quarantine Matches’ Instagram account (@bowdoinquarantinematches) now has over 300 followers. The pair has received over 276 responses from all class years; the Class of 2020 had the least submissions, constituting 18 percent of responses, while the Class of 2021 had the most submissions at 29 percent, the founders wrote in an email to the Orient.
“We did not expect it to be popular,” the pair wrote. “People have generally been supportive, which is great. It reminds us of how positive the Bowdoin community is.”
For the founders of Quarantine Matches, providing a Bowdoin-specific service has the power to build community virtually.
“We wanted it to be specific to Bowdoin since we are missing out on so much time to get to know each other due to the semester being cut short,” the founders wrote. “The sense of community at Bowdoin is so strong. We wanted to continue creating connections between people through connecting people who are compatible and may not know each other.”
At a time in which person-to-person contact is limited, building a sense of community online has become increasingly important to students.
“When you live with someone, you’re not texting them every day to check in with them [because] you can just walk over to their room … so it’s definitely been, in addition to having classes online, a lot of screen time just to try and stay connected to people that I care about. But something that I have realized in the past couple of weeks, is that even though we are in different places, we are still sharing this experience together,” said Hannah Conn ’20, who filled out the Quarantine Matches form.
The founders of Quarantine Matches believe the platform helps remind students that they are still part of the shared Bowdoin experience. The pair spends time reading each response thoroughly and pairing people together based on similar interests and desires. The matches are made blind, and the duo does not look at names during the matching process.
So far, the pair has received positive feedback on their matching strategy; in one case, two people who were already best friends were matched with one another. For others, the service is valuable because it has connected people who might otherwise not have met.
“A lot of people are still trying to treat [the situation] as if we are, to some extent, finishing out the semester with some semblance of a community, even though we’re all in our own homes far away from Bowdoin,” said Emma Hahesy ’22, who also filled out the form. “[I wanted to] find a way to connect with people from Bowdoin who aren’t my immediate friends because, in quarantine, it’s very easy to only just talk to your closest friends.”
While the original deadline to fill out the form was last Friday, March 27, due to the large number of responses, the creators will make another round of matches this week in hopes of fostering new connections and providing all participants with a match.
“We only have four years of college, and we’re at a very special place with very special people,” Hahesy said. “I think it’s important to do our best to not lose that time because we do have access to the internet and to social media and to all of these things that allow you to [stay connected].”