UChicago Datamatch Partners With Hyde Park Restaurants for Valentine’s Matches

Until February 21, students paired by Datamatch can go on dates at restaurants like Noodles Etc. and Seoul Taco for a discounted price.

By Gustavo Delgado

UChicago students who match on Datamatch can go on dates in Hyde Park for discounted or free food between February 14 and February 21, thanks to a new partnership between Datamatch and Hyde Park establishments and student-run cafes such as Noodles Etc., Insomnia Cookies, Seoul Taco, and Cobb Café. The partnership also includes an unofficial wedding ceremony at Cobb Café in particular.

Datamatch originally began in 1994 at Harvard University but has since spread to more than 30 campuses across the United States. Datamatch previously spoke with The Maroon, where we first learned about the algorithm used for matches. This latest venture stems directly from Harvard Datamatch’s guidance that encourages students to take their matches on in-person dates as opposed to only speaking online, said the Shady Dealer editors-in-chief.

In the last couple of months, Shady Dealer editors-in-chief Harry Weinstein and Christian Villanueva, who oversee Datamatch at UChicago, have reached out to Hyde Park businesses for Valentine’s week offers. They were also involved in designing the Datamatch questions, coming up with “50 to 60 questions that we’d been writing since late December,” Villanueva said. Only 17 could make the final cut, though.

The quiz matches students based on their responses, class year, sexual orientation, and whether they are looking for friendship or a romantic relationship. After receiving a match, students can go to Noodles Etc. with a promo code and receive 15 percent off on all food and beverages. For Seoul Taco, dates can receive 25 percent off as long as they meet the minimum requirement of two of anything per order. For Insomnia Cookies, 100 gift cards of $8 each will be distributed online to 100 different couples. At Cobb Cafe, dates can receive free coffee and discounts on pastries with a promo code. Free unofficial exchange of marriage vows ceremonies will also be available depending on the availability of online licensed staff.

This year, UChicago has ranked ninth in total signups for Datamatch in comparison to other universities, with 1,792 students taking the quiz. However, the Shady Dealer hopes these partnerships with local businesses will increase participation.

Weinstein said that these partnerships that encourage matches to go on live dates is “the final stage of Datamatch.” Both he and Villanueva joked that, down the road, they look forward to hearing that someone’s future parents met through Datamatch.

“I think [Datamatch is] something that has pretty good notoriety, and people kind of look forward to seeing the quizzes every year,” Villanueva said. “And what happens next for Datamatch, I think, is I want people to get married. I think so far, what Datamatch is missing is that it hasn’t produced any legacy admits,” referring to students whose parents had met while enrolled at the University.

One draw of Datamatch has been the questions on the matching quiz, which often center around UChicago and campus culture.

“How do you not write 17 questions about Dean Boyer’s mustache or something, but also like have it be about campus humor?” Weinstein said. “Luckily, we have a great team of writers with us who are brainstorming questions, and it’s all drawn from their life, their experiences.… Then, we just kind of took a hacksaw to all the good questions and only selected what we felt best fit the framework for what we’re going for and complemented each other.”

Datamatch hopes that the new partnerships with local businesses will continue and potentially expand to other Hyde Park restaurants.

“It’s something that will keep going in the future, as long as I’m assuming the restaurants know what their margins are, so they won’t lose money on giving a discount.… I would like to see more events [like the live date discounts],” Villanueva said. “I think [Datamatch] kind of falls into a sixth week point of our plans where people are maybe a little busier, so that cuts into how people may want to interact with Datamatch.”

Even though Datamatch existed before the pandemic, Datamatch’s leaders are unsure of how participation this year will be affected by the return of most in-person campus activities.

“My gut instinct is that [Datamatch] promotions were helped over the last year or so during the pandemic because the meme group [UChicago Memes for Theoretical Midwest Teens] was so active online. And there are all these online groups who are just people not really leaving their apartments. So, they just didn’t have too much to do,” Weinstein said. “This year, we have the option to put things up on campus to get people to do it, but they’re also not as glued to their screens. So [Datamatch is] not as prominently displayed.”

Students can move forward with matches from their Datamatch quiz until February 21.