Dating site gives Tufts low ‘Hotness Index’
Published: Friday, January 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 18, 2013 08:01
The numbers are in, and Jumbos aren’t that hot — at least not according to DateMySchool, a college dating website. Last month, the site released a “Hotness Index” ranking six schools in the Boston area: Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University and Tufts. Tufts women ranked fourth and Tufts men ranked sixth in the index.
According to DateMySchool Public Relations Director Melanie Wallner, the site generated the list using data collected from user profiles. The site created a “hotness ratio” between the numbers of users from a school whose profiles were “saved” by other people on the site and the number of users from that college that posted their pictures.
“Users can save profiles as a way of letting other users know that they’re interested in chatting,” Wallner said. “What we’ve seen is that these figures do show who are the hottest users on the site.”
Boston College topped the list for both men and women. Other universities, including Tufts, had less consistent results between the two genders. For instance, Northeastern University men were rated third, with a “hotness ratio” of about 0.74, while its women ranked fifth with a ratio of about 2.14. The difference in ratios is in part due to the greater number of female users than male users.
Many of the schools profiled in the “Hotness Index” tend to have more student users of one gender, which may have skewed or otherwise impacted the results. Over 200 Tufts women have profiles with pictures on the site, while only 160 Tufts men have similar profiles.
Tufts’ women’s ranking on the index surprised some students. Junior Jenna Wells observed that Tufts students seem to be generally unhappy with their peers’ looks.
“I’m surprised that we were rated well because I feel like people are always complaining that there aren’t many attractive students at Tufts,” Wells said.
Senior Stephanie Fischer agreed, saying that these complaints are not just found within the Tufts community, but extend to opinions voiced by students from other schools.
“Tufts has always had this stigma that the girls are weird and unattractive because I’ve met multiple guys in life who say that the girls who go here aren’t attractive,” Fischer said. “But I think the girls are very pretty, so [the results] intrigue me because I’ve always heard otherwise.”
Freshman Rebecca Cooley was not surprised that Tufts women were ranked higher than men, citing peer and societal pressure for woman to look their best.
“Society expects girls to look hot and put−together all the time. I think there’s less pressure on guys,” Cooley said. “I also think guys are often more interested in staring at pictures of attractive girls, at least in my experience.”
Cooley also said that these ratings perpetuate objectification, and she and other Jumbos are not alone in their criticism of the “Hotness Index.” According to a Dec. 19 article on Boston.com, some students at the other ranked colleges also expressed concerns about the index’s impact.
“I don’t think necessarily that any of this is meant to do harm, but it does,” Sharlene Hesse−Biber, director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Boston College, told Boston.com.
Wallner, on the other hand, argued that her site’s “Hotness Index” could be used to create a discourse around the question of attractiveness.
“Hotness is such a subjective thing,” she said. “[The index] is just what the data is telling us, but it is interesting to have different perceptions.”
Wallner reiterated that DateMySchool’s list is not foolproof, quoting the adage that “attractiveness is in the eye of the beholder.” Many Tufts students also questioned the legitimacy of these ratings.
Senior Natasha Gollin, who has a profile on DateMySchool, argued that attributes besides physical attractiveness should be considered.
“The number of times someone saves a profile of someone from your school doesn’t determine how ‘hot’ your school is,” she said. “People are looking at other things than just physical appearance in these profiles, I would hope.”
Fischer also pointed to the fact that the “hotness ratio” was determined using a small sample size — students with profiles on the site — meaning that the rankings may not be indicative of the school as a whole.
“Boston University has 853 users with pictures — that’s three−quarters of Tufts’ graduating class — while Tufts only has 201, and that’s a very small number,” she said.
Wells agreed, also pointing to the fact that the student body is always fluctuating.
“Seniors graduate and new students arrive, so it’s always changing anyway,” she said.
Other students questioned how this information would be used. Senior Adam Sax was concerned by the potential influence the “Hotness Index” could have in forming opinions about schools.
“It starts creating a very superficial environment around why we’re here,” Sax said. “We’re here to learn, right? So if we start asking ourselves if we’re going to choose a college because its attractiveness level is higher — I just don’t see that as a productive method to [be] judging the value of an institution.”
Gollin also questioned how students would use such information when choosing people with whom to associate.
“Some students might think that they’d like to date a [Boston College] guy or girl, influenced by the fact that both genders ranked at the top of this list,” she said.
Despite some students’ qualms with DateMySchool’s “Hotness Index,” many are receptive to the site itself. Created in 2010 by Columbia University students Balazs Alexa and Jean Meyer, DateMySchool has grown to have over 200,000 users at over 1,000 schools. Users must have a school email address to register, and profiles are regularly monitored to ensure that they are legitimate, Wallner said.