UCSB Marriage Pact

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Illustration by Alyssa Long

Lauren Luna

Campus Beat Reporter

In the last week of February, an organization called the UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) Marriage Pact took the student body by storm. With over 4,000 entries in total, the marriage pact is one of a few creative ways that students have tried to uplift spirits during the pandemic.

According to the UCSB Marriage Pact Instagram, the survey implements “groundbreaking algorithms and a bit of linear algebra” to find a quintessential match for each participant. The survey contains 50 questions overall, mainly asking about things like family values, political preferences, and the participant’s goals.

By using a questionnaire based more heavily on beliefs and attitudes than simple hobbies, the marriage pact places more importance on mutual values than mutual interests when finding a match. According to Dr. Suzanne Degges-White, a writer for Psychology Today, finding someone with the same values is key to forming a lasting bond with anyone, especially a romantic partner. There are seven core values that define a relationship, which include caring for one another, avoiding harm, enjoyment, personal success, maturity, self-direction, and security. 

The marriage pact emulates a project undertaken by two economics students, Sophia Sterling-Angus and Liam McGregor, at Stanford in 2017. The students sought to create a simple and effective formula to find one’s perfect partner. Inspired by the difficulties of exclusive dating that many college students face today, the marriage pact aims to give students a new platform to meet someone in a romantic context.

“The UCSB Marriage Pact is largely self-aware, not hoping to make permanent matches, but to simply connect people with their most compatible potential partners.”

“[The students] combined rigorous academic theory from psychology, market design, and computer science to design a 10-minute questionnaire any students could complete,” states the organization’s website. “Running every response through a custom matching algorithm, they could give each participant the name of their best match on campus.”

Based on comments from the original Facebook post advertising the survey, most students who took the survey did so out of pure curiosity. The UCSB Marriage Pact is largely self-aware, not hoping to make permanent matches, but to simply connect people with their most compatible potential partners. Some students thought the pact was silly and vocally refused to participate.

The pact, despite its name, does not necessarily encourage its participants to pursue something permanent with their matches. While several couples have actually been created by it — one even getting married with the original Stanford pact — the test mainly seems to be a test of curiosity.

“It was a cute idea,” said Cassandra Chow, a third-year music composition major. “But for some of my friends, no one ever got messaged.”

As matches poured in, some students reached out to their matches via email — while others chose not to reach out to their matches at all, simply taking the test for fun or to see what they got. 

One challenge expressed by the UCSB Marriage Pact’s Instagram page was gathering more men-loving-women (MLW) participants. A post released by the page said that over 1,000 straight women may go unmatched without the participation of more straight, bi, or pan-identifying men. It’s unknown as to whether or not any participants went unmatched ultimately.

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