Record Number of 5C Students Choose to be Algorithmically Matched in 2020

Hana Ahmed ’23
Staff Writer
March 5, 2020

In its second year at the Claremont Colleges, the mysterious matchmaking algorithm Datamatch has solidified its role as a 5C Valentine’s Day tradition. Datamatch, originally created for Harvard students in 1994 by the Harvard Computing Society, has since been introduced to over 25 other college campuses around the U.S. It debuted in Claremont in 2019 through collaboration between Harvard’s Datamatch team and 5C satirical online publication, The Golden Antlers. Over 1600 students from the 5Cs and Claremont Graduate University took part in the 2019 survey; in 2020, the number of participants surpassed 2000 in an increase of almost 15%.

“I don’t really know of any Valentine’s Day traditions at the 5Cs that existed before [Datamatch],” said current Editor-In-Chief of The Golden Antlers Julia Foodman ’21. “We definitely weren’t expecting as many people to take it last year. But this year we knew, Datamatch is a whole Claremont thing. We got maybe one in every three people [at the 5Cs] to take it.”

While the algorithm responsible for matching students is confidential to the Harvard Computing Society, the content of Datamatch surveys is unique to each participating campus. Survey questions are meant to be humorous and reflect trademarks of the campus culture. The Golden Antlers staff collaborate on Datamatch during fall semester and winter break, generating questions and answer choices relevant to the 5Cs. Some of this year’s questions included: “Which liberal arts buzz word is your favorite?,” “Which campus building best personifies your sex life?,” and “Which piece of campus art best encapsulates your being?”

On Valentine’s Day, students who had filled out the survey received their five top matches, which could be any participating 5C student with similar answers.

Upon further examination of the Datamatch results, clear trends emerged among 5C matches.

For each of the 5Cs, there was a clear majority of matches with another one of the 5Cs. CMC participants, for instance, matched with other CMC students more frequently than with students from other 5Cs. This was the case in both 2019 and 2020, with approximately 63 percent of CMC students matching with each other this year, and 42 percent matching last year.

The remaining colleges – Pitzer, Pomona, Scripps, and HMC – all matched most frequently with Pomona students. About 45 percent of Pitzer students, 37 percent of Pomona students, 42 percent of Scripps students, and 42 percent of Mudd students matched a Pomona student. The matches were similar in 2019 with the exception of Harvey Mudd, which matched most with Scripps students than any other school.

Looking forward, The Golden Antlers hopes to increase participation in Datamatch, particularly within the HMC student body. “We really struggle with Mudders,” Foodman said. “We never had great traction there, in general. That’s something that we’ve been working on.” As of fall 2019, The Golden Antlers has writers from all five colleges after getting its first Harvey Mudd student on staff, according to Foodman, which will likely increase the representation of Mudd jokes in their publications.

“So much of your understanding of the world is based on humor, and how you relate to things,” Foodman said. “If someone has a similar sense of humor as you, went through [the survey] and picked all the same answers as you… the odds of that are insane. You’re probably gonna have something to talk about. There’s gotta be a connection there, at least somewhat.”

Image Credit: Infogram