NEWS

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November 20, 2009

Ivy Plus helps alums find plus-ones

The U of C may have dropped out of the Big Ten, but it can count itself in the Ivy Plus Society (IPS), a business—and dating—networking club for alums of elite colleges across the country.

Alumni of Ivy League and other prestigious colleges, universities, business, law, and medical schools can join—if they’re between 21 and 42. Members must hold a degree from a “plus” school—including the University of Chicago, Stanford, West Point, and the London School of Economics (but not Oxford), or, of course, the Ivy League.

Events take place in New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Articles in the New York Times and Gawker claimed IPS has a snobbish and elitist attitude because partygoers only want to socialize with people of their own kind.

IPS founder Jennifer Wilde Anderson (J.D. ’04) defended the society’s qualifications, pointing out that IPS-eligble alumni are allowed to bring friends. “People have all kinds of friends in any social environment; they are not going to leave them just for a party,” Anderson said, stating that anyone can be “a good addition to the party.”

Anderson said the group hasn’t created its own social circle. “It is just one party a month, I’m about the only person who goes religiously,” she said.

Anderson founded the group in 2006, when she was living in Los Angeles and working with Yale’s Alumni Club in Southern California to create social events. She used that experience to reach out to alumni of other elite colleges and universities, bringing in over 500 attendees at the first Los Angeles event. She plans on expanding IPS to Boston early next year and eventually setting up a chapter in Chicago.

The IPS Web site describes the events as “sexy,” and they are located at trendy venues. The society “picks all the hottest spots, so people are not working hard and are not spending all their time figuring out what is hot,” Anderson said.

While Anderson described the society as focused on socializing, not just dating, new relationships are at least a side effect of IPS. The New York Times reported on October 2 that about 75 percent of the attendees at IPS events are single, and Anderson said that “a couple of engagements and new boyfriends” have come out of IPS events, adding that married couples attend as well.

“It is not a dating service. I’m a lawyer, not a matchmaker. Anytime you throw a party with young professionals you are going to have a lot of single people. That is the nature of the age,” Anderson said.

Dave Siemer (M.B.A. ’04) regularly attends Ivy League Plus events in Los Angeles. Siemer, who has a girlfriend, said his focus at the events is networking—the event is “good for connections,” he said, adding that he has started several business relationships with people he met at the parties.

As for the competition between schools, Anderson said that there are no rivalries when it comes to IPS social events. “I always find those rivalries are kind of pondering,” she said. “Even the deepest college rivalries are very fun-loving.”