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Are you a lovesick college student? ‘Michigan Marriage Pact’ has an algorithm for that.

The Michigan Marriage Pact, a student-run initiative at the University of Michigan, released its latest results Dec. 7 to the 10,642 participants who sought a compatible marital match.

The annual project, now in its third year, uses math to match students up with their potential backup spouses in case they are unable to find someone they would like to marry in their adult life.

“We can’t promise you a match made in heaven, but we can promise a match made via groundbreaking algorithms and a little linear algebra. Swoon,” the project’s website reads.

Students take a 50-question survey that asks them about their dating preferences. The questions’ topics range from social habits like going to a party versus having a movie night to values-based topics like sex within marriage and views on abortion.

After the deadline for students to submit their questionnaires, the group ran a computer algorithm to pair up participants. Mutual matches then receive each other’s name and university email address to get in contact.

The pact began in the fall of 2019 as a group project in an “Entrepreneurial Creativity” class, taught by Professor Eric Fretz. Each semester, Fretz challenges his students to create a marketable business idea and put it into action.

“[Michigan Marriage Pact] was a fun group,” Fretz told The College Fix in an email. “I told them right away that they’d either have 60 responses or 6000+. It was great to see it take off like it did. They’ve stayed active and just got some new folks involved to continue it.”

In 2019, approximately 7,000 participants signed up for the pact, with a similar number signing up in the next year’s online semester.

This year, participants made up over one-fifth of the campus undergraduate compilation.

“Their key was that they went viral and that’s a really hard thing to capture,” Fretz told The College Fix.

The group joined the national Marriage Pact movement, which has similar programs, at 63 other schools across the United States, primarily located in the eastern part of the country.

The University of Michigan’s latest matches dropped with mixed reviews.

Many on the university’s subreddit reported being in the 99th percentile of possible matches, which the Marriage Pact team deems “an excellent match.”

The higher the percentile, the more compatible a match is, so participants hope to be as close to the 100th percentile as possible.

Others, such as University of Michigan sophomore and College Fix student reporter Chris Coffey, were not so lucky. Coffey tried his luck and ended up in the 12.15th percentile of possible matches, which is deemed “far from perfect,” he told The Fix in a text message.

“I hoped the Michigan Marriage Pact would offer a genuine opportunity to meet someone with similar values. I was sorely disappointed,” he said.

“A rudimentary search of social media and the internet,” he continued, “revealed my match and I have little to nothing in common.”

The College Fix reached out repeatedly to the Michigan Marriage Pact team via Instagram direct message but received no reply.

“An algorithm is not the hand of god. All sorts of funky things can happen with algorithms. You could get someone you know. You could get someone you don’t. You could get someone you wish you didn’t. The point is, it’s entirely possible to get an ex-flame, current RA, or sibling (rip, lmfao). Don’t take it too seriously,” reads an email obtained by The College Fix that was sent out to Marriage Pact participants by the leadership team just after the questionnaire closed.

Approximately 1,000 heterosexual female participants were waitlisted due to a shortage of straight men in the match pool. To help remedy the disparity, organizers extended the deadline 24 hours, closing the survey on Dec. 7, rather than Dec. 6, as originally planned.

Editor’s note: The author of this article participated in the Michigan Marriage Pact and received a match in the 99th percentile.

MORE: Dating, romance, love: Why students should value these things

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About the Author
Charles Hilu -- University of Michigan