While hundreds of students stood on the Paresky steps and
screamed to express their intense emotions after the College announced its
switch to online learning due to COVID-19, many students were preoccupied with
another thought: romance. After receiving many requests Ephmatch developer
Aidan Lloyd-Tucker ’22 sat on Paresky steps immediately after the scream’s
conclusion and relaunched the app.
While Ephmatch, a romantic and platonic relationship building
service on Williams Student Online (WSO), has only been available in past years
to seniors during their final weeks, this relaunch is the second time the
program was opened to all students, the first being this past Winter Study.
Students can opt-in to the service, add a bio, change their WSO photo if they
so choose and select the students who they are interested in, regardless of
gender or sexual orientation. And if the click is mutual, it’s a “match!”
“In total, the corona-week has been crazy for Ephmatch,”
Lloyd-Tucker wrote in an email to the Record. Between March 11 and March 17, the window between when
students were notified of the campus closure and when they had to leave campus,
1,097 matches were made — more than half of all matches made in the history of
Ephmatch. The page had 626 active users and an average of 1,500 views per hour.
The reboot was appreciated by Ephmatch users new and old.
Victoria Michalska ’22, a big supporter of Ephmatch, was one student who had been
“bolstering” its original run during Winter Study. Upon seeing its reinstatement,
she laughed. “I was like, ‘This is perfect; this is exactly what the campus
needs right now. It’s the right energy for the apocalypse,’” Michalska said.
Michalska enjoyed the new developments to Ephmatch, such as the
extra message you could add that would only be revealed to matches.
Lloyd-Tucker added this after users requested a chat feature, so that matches
could move to a different chat app, such as Snapchat or Instagram or, in Michalska’s
case, texting. “I put my phone number, just cause I’m ballsy,” she said.
In addition to hardcore Ephmatch supporters such as Michalska,
this run of the program yielded 156 new student users, such as Kara Hadden ’22.
“The first time I wasn’t on it, but this time I thought, ‘There’s nothing to
lose, I might as well go on,’” Hadden said.
This attitude is in line with Lloyd-Tucker’s general analysis of
Ephmatch during the last week before students unexpectantly departed campus for
the rest of the year. “I think the frenzy of the past week and the attitude of
‘last chance to text your crush’ significantly shifted Ephmatch into a
relationship or hookup-style app, rather than a friendship/connections app,” he
Michalska agreed, saying that she was “absolutely” more impulsive
this time around because she knew she would not see any of her matches for a
Not everyone, however, felt the impulsivity for quick romance.
Eddie Wolfson ’23 did not find himself approaching EphMatch differently from
Winter Study. “I didn’t really feel like the world was ending,” he said.
“Because I’m a freshman, I still have three more years to live with my
decisions, so it really made no difference as far as being impulsive and what I
felt like I could do. I think seniors definitely were more wild.”
Hadden took a daring approach, trying to match with as many
people as possible. “On the last night that I was on campus, my friend and I
decided to go on and ‘like’ every single person to see how many matches we
would get,” Hadden said. Despite making dozens of matches, Hadden’s Ephmatch
experience did not go beyond the single email and Instagram direct message she received. “As far as I know, I don’t think
that people would schedule a date after matching on Ephmatch, but if they saw
each other at Hoxsey, they would feel a lot more comfortable making a move.”
In the future, Ephmatch plans to move to a mobile app.
Lloyd-Tucker said he and his team are planning to change the app to fit the way
people are using it, and added that WSO is always open for suggestions and new
members. Some students shared requests for a place to add mutual interests to
create matches and the ability to view matches after the app closes.
While many bios stayed the same from Winter Study, others changed
to fit the theme.
Some highlights include “‘an extremely healthy young woman’ -my doctor (aug 2019)” from Alex Pear ’22, “hmu before Tyler Annex becomes isolation housing” from Becca Brody ’22 and “you can’t spell quarantine without u, r, a, q, t,” from Eyobel Gebre ’22
While true love appears tough to find on Ephmatch, many students
shared stories of successful fleeting encounters, noting Ephmatch to be a good
conversation starter. Many also made new friends in the process, enjoyed interacting
with people they already knew and had fun reading through the entertaining bios.
“[The reason I joined] was mostly so I could match with all my
friends and laugh over the profiles,” Wolfson said. Hadden expressed similar
sentiments, explaining, “Some of them were pretty forward. They were like
‘let’s go out with a bang.’”
“It was just a beautiful time,” Michalska added.