TinderU student ambassadors encourage meet-ups, not hook-ups, this Valentine’s Day

Media Credit: Skylar Epstein | Staff Photographer

Sophomore Stephanie Lee is a brand ambassador for Tinder's college app, TinderU.

While couples are heading out on dates Friday, GW’s TinderU student brand marketing managers are advising single students to stress less about finding someone on the social app.

Sophomore Stephanie Lee and junior Sabrina Mai work to promote TinderU, a version of Tinder meant only for college students, through campus events as brand ambassadors for the app. The ambassadors said they are organizing an event around Singles Awareness Day in the next few weeks to encourage single students to spend time with others rather than swiping to find a romantic partner on Valentine’s Day.

“We aren’t trying to make TinderU like a relationship app,” Lee said. “I know a lot of people see it as that and people usually associate the app with hook-ups and finding a fling or a relationship possibly. But we’re trying to change that idea to more like finding people to hang out with.”

TinderU only allows users with a university-affiliated email address to sign up to ensure they only match with other college students at their own school or with students in the area. Lee said the college version is “safer” than the original app because students can only meet up with those at GW or neighboring schools.

“TinderU is better than the regular Tinder because you have to get verified with your college email address in order to make an account, so it kind of blocks out all the people who are fake,” Lee said.

Instead of celebrating Valentine’s Day, Lee and Mai said they are planning to host an event in the next few weeks around Singles Awareness Day, which is recognized Saturday, in which they will partner with different student organizations and organize a hangout. The ambassadors said they want to emphasize that TinderU is not only about dating and hook-ups, but it’s a way for people to meet others on and around campus.

Lee said she wanted to apply for an ambassador role last semester after she met her boyfriend through TinderU and met new friends.

“I’ve had positive experiences [with the app] although there were some negatives,” Lee said. “So I was hoping to help balance out the bad parts about it and get more people involved in TinderU. I made friends there, I met my boyfriend there too. So I wanted other people to have positive experiences as well.”

The ambassadors added that they hold conference calls with their manager at TinderU Headquarters for about an hour to relay any concerns they have heard and offer suggestions, like adding a feature that alerts authorities about unsafe meet-ups, to improve safety.

“As a marketing manager I have direct access to HQ, and we talk with corporate people and we are able to directly express our concerns,” Lee said.

The two ambassadors said they spend about five hours per week planning activities around campus, like events with sorority and fraternity chapters, to promote the app. They added that they are trying to expand their reach to other student organizations and “influencer” groups on campus like GW Thrift.

“It was really hard for people to figure out, like, what does our campus do? We don’t have tailgates, we don’t have bars where people hang out in one open area, but we do have Greek life parties,” Mai said. “But there is the rest of the school we want to reach out to.”

The ambassadors said they host about two events per month around campus, where they typically hand out free giveaways like boba tea or TinderU merchandise. Mai said the ambassadors hosted a party with Beta Theta Pi last semester and gave out free merchandise in exchange for app downloads.

“Their merchandise is really, really cute and people like to wear it when they go out or for everyday usage,” Mai said.

Mai added that the dating app allows people to set expectations for their relationship from the time they begin using TinderU. She said students know that a dating app might not grant them instant love, but it is a good way to meet and talk to someone.

“Even if you match with someone it doesn’t mean you’re going to go on a date and find love,” she said. “But it’s just an opportunity to give you the push.”

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