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Dating Science: Marriage Pact takes campus by storm

Shreya Jindal / Thresher

By Emelia Gauch     2/14/23 11:45pm

Concerned that you won’t find love at the ripe age of 18 to 22? Fear not. Rice students now have a new opportunity — or backup plan — for romance.  

The Marriage Pact borrows from the romantic comedy trope of two friends agreeing to get married at a certain age if they don’t find anyone else. Essentially, they agree to be each others’ romantic backup plan. Developed by Stanford University undergraduates Liam McGregor and Sophia Sterling-Angus as their final project for an economics class, the Marriage Pact takes this idea and translates it into a 50-question survey that students have brought to 78 colleges and universities across the U.S., now including Rice. 

Kelly Zeng, Allison He and Emily Liu initiated bringing the Marriage Pact to Rice. He, a Hanszen College sophomore, said she was inspired by a Stanford friend’s experience with the Marriage Pact on campus. 

“[I thought] it would be really cool if we brought [the Marriage Pact] here, because it’s a similar type of student body and environment,” He said. “As a freshman, I would’ve wanted something like this, and I know a lot of people who would’ve wanted the opportunity to find ‘the one’ in college.” 

Zeng, Liu and He said they communicate with the Marriage Pact team and market the program to the Rice student body, while the project managers at Stanford send emails and run the algorithm. 

All three said they hope to make the Marriage Pact a yearly occurrence that’s distinct from Crush Party and Screw-Yer-Roommate. 

“Screw is just your roommate pairing you with someone, so you don’t know how compatible you are. [Marriage Pact] is more research-based, psychology-based, whereas Crush Party was more of a Buzzfeed quiz,” Zeng, a Sid Richardson College sophomore, said. 

Liu also said that Screw-Yer-Roommate is based more heavily on physical looks, and could be more superficial because of it. The Marriage Pact, on the other hand, is completely anonymous and confidential. Pairings are based on personality, values and opinions collected through the survey. 

The Marriage Pact survey is based on a mix of pre-selected questions and questions selected by Zeng, Liu and He to tailor the survey to the Rice student body. Questions selected for Rice include “it’s important to me that parents approve of my partner,” “parties are perfect networking opportunities” and “I like kinky sex.” The first collection of questions in the survey covers basic information about religious affiliation, political beliefs, what the participant is looking for and other deal-breakers. The other questions aim to get more value-oriented information. 

The survey attempts to get an accurate gauge of a Rice students’ character and create the best match possible, but not everyone felt that they were destined for love with their match.

Spring Chenjp, a Wiess College sophomore, said that she filled out the survey without many expectations.

“I wasn’t really in it to get a match,” Chenjp said. “I was in it to take the survey because people said it was fun.”

Chenjp did receive a match, but decided that they weren’t the most compatible. Still, Chenjp said she would fill out the Marriage Pact again next year.

For others, though, their Marriage Pact results were all too accurate. Emma Larson, a Sid Richardson freshman, said she wound up getting paired with her best friend.

“[The] Marriage Pact ended up saying we were 99.07% compatible. We both thought it was incredibly comical and honestly kind of validating of our friendship,” Larson said. “Out of all the people on campus, it’s so on brand that we would be each others’ ‘perfect match.’”

After finding love — at least, a certain type of it — Larson said that perhaps there is some validity to the Marriage Pact after all.

“I know some people didn’t think much of their match, but honestly, I think there must be some truth to the algorithm because of how well [we] get along,” Larson said.

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