Website facilitates new student friendships
Based on the original Harvardlunch.com, the website randomly matches University students with one another for a friendly, non-romantic meal. Any student with a netID and Princeton email account can participate by entering a name and email on the website.
Within a day, the student will receive an email with the full name and email address of another University student as well as a suggested lunchtime. From then on, the students are responsible for following through and contacting one another directly.
Princetonlunch.net, which was launched about two weeks ago, is part of a new initiative by the USG’s Campus and Community Affairs Committee with the goal of promoting unity and fun among the student community. Feeling that many students fall into a routine or are too busy to meet new people, committee member Austin Jackson ’15 reached out to Harvard senior Seth Riddley — the founder of Harvardlunch.com — about setting up a Princetonlunch.net.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to break up the routine and get out of your comfort zone and potentially develop really great friendships from that,” Jackson said.
The Committee says it hopes the website will help students feel more connected to one another and to the community as a whole.
“I think it is a simple, useful tool for a college campus to facilitate meeting other people,” Riddley said.
Riddley originally came up with the idea for Harvardlunch.com last year around the time of the big Harvard-Yale football game. He said that the idea came to him randomly and that at the time he had little experience in computer science and web design.
He was pleasantly surprised when, after sending out the link to some friends, about 600 people had signed up within a few hours.
The increasing popularity of the website on Harvard’s campus was met with skepticism and perhaps a bit of rivalry.
“The Yale Daily News caught wind of it, published an article that was very critical of it, citing it as a reason why Harvard sucks,” Riddley said. “Today, Yalelunch.com is even more popular on Yale’s campus.”
After being contacted by students at various colleges and universities, Riddley has set up other versions of the site at the University of Chicago and Brandeis University.
The umbrella website lunchedu.com claims that, if not for its service, a total of 1,764 students would not have met.
More than 50 Princeton students have used the website within the past two weeks. Many freshmen heard about the opportunity through a Class of 2015 Facebook page, and a post on Princeton FML also sparked interest in the website.
Joe LoPresti ’15 first saw the link on Facebook and decided to try it out as a way of meeting new people and developing new friendships.
“I have friends that I get along with really well,” LoPresti said. “But I feel that people aren’t comfortable walking up to people and saying ‘Oh, hey, what’s your name?’ the way people are at the beginning of the year, so I just wanted to get a little more variety into the groups of people I was hanging out with.”
LoPresti recounted his first lunch with a fellow Princeton student as a casual meeting with someone he probably would not have met otherwise. An undecided A.B. student from Pennsylvania, LoPresti chatted over lunch with an ORFE major from Australia.
LoPresti has already signed up for a second meal with another Princeton student and said he hopes to meet other people.
Melody Edwards ’15 heard about the link through a friend and was very excited to use the website. A resident of Mathey College, Edwards claimed that she knows most of her friends from the Mathey dining hall.
“I’m excited to expand beyond that,” Edwards said in an email. “Also, after the first month when the habit of constantly introducing yourself to people becomes less socially acceptable, it’s nice to have a way to continue to meet new people.”
The Campus and Community Affairs Committee will look into further developing the website if needed after monitoring the response to the website. LoPresti said he thinks it will take off.
“It’s very Princeton,” he said. “It’s something people here would like to do.”
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