UPDATED: October 31, 2021 at 11:45 p.m.
After its site went down without explanation, students alleged that a matchmaking survey that circulated among Harvard students earlier this month soliciting students’ personal information — including racial and sexual preferences — was a scam.
The survey targeting Harvard students modeled itself off of “Marriage Pact,” a service launched by students at Stanford and active on 62 college campuses that matches students with “backup” spouses.
The Harvard marriage survey began circulating on campus several weeks ago, publicized through an Instagram account and flyers posted across campus. The ostensible matchmaking service claimed it would send respondents their matches on Oct. 15. After collecting a wealth of personal data from Harvard students, however, its website and social media disappeared before the announced deadline.
On Oct. 31, the service seemingly reemerged — now branded as ExExEx — and emailed participants their “match.”
The survey asked students questions ranging from their views on abortion to how “submissive/dominant” they want to be in a relationship to their level of sexual experience, according to respondents and screenshots of the survey.
Liam J. McGregor, who founded the true campus match-making service at Stanford in 2017, confirmed in an interview that Harvard’s campus is not one on which Marriage Pact operates. Once he became aware of the survey on Harvard’s campus, McGregor said he direct messaged the Instagram account, but never received a response.
“We tried to reach out, all kinds of different ways,” McGregor said. “We told them, ‘Hey, we love the enthusiasm, but this is not okay.’”
Without explicitly mentioning the marriage survey, Harvard warned students to be wary of giving away sensitive information in the College’s weekly update email sent to undergraduates Thursday.
“Some community members have reported concerns about online or digital scams,” the email stated. “Be wary of providing personal information to anyone whose name or number you don’t recognize.”
College spokesperson Rachael Dane did not respond to multiple requests for comment asking whether Harvard was aware of the marriage survey.
William Q. “Will” McKibben ’25 said he took the survey after seeing a flyer in the Science Center.
“All the questions seemed to be very psychoanalytic,” he said. “None of them were trivial. It was not like ‘What’s your favorite hobby?’”
Harvard students operate their own matchmaking service on campus called Datamatch, which matches students with potential friends and partners every Valentine’s Day. McKibben said the presence of that matchmaking service at Harvard was one of the reasons why he did not question the marriage survey’s authenticity.
“I didn’t really think there was anything initially that I noticed that would make me think it was fake,” McKibben said. “I’d seen other things before — either through other campuses or through Harvard — of matching students with each other.”
Though he provided the service with his personal information, McKibben said he is not distressed.
“I don’t know that any of the data that I would have given would be incriminating, or if it did come out, that it would be a big deal,” McKibben said.
McKibben also said he was not “disgruntled” or “super upset” about not receiving a match on the announced date.
“But it’s kind of a bummer,” McKibben said. “It would have been interesting to see who I would have gotten.”
CORRECTION: October 31, 2021
A previous version of this article used language that described the matchmaking survey as a scam. In fact, students only alleged at the time that it was a scam.
— Staff writer Vivian Zhao can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Hannah J. Martinez can be contacted at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @martinezhannahj.