Introducing 'Icebreaker'

Student-run Web site allows AU students to post profiles, meet

For Vsevolod Horodyskyj, an AU senior majoring in film, and his friend, a graduate student in the School of Communication, meeting new people was difficult. School and work left little time to socialize. Horodyskyj feared that he was missing out on someone special, without even knowing it.

While the two faced this fairly common college student predicament, they took a less common response. They decided to build a Web site to help AU students get to know each other. After three months of work, kicked off in the first week of June. Since then, 123 members have joined the site (as of press time).

"[AU Icebreaker] is a place to meet new people whether it be for friendship or dating," said Horodyskyj. "It's also a place where students who may feel alone on campus can go and find others who share similar interests and beliefs."

Horodyskyj added that if such a Web site had existed when he was a freshman, he would not have felt so alone.

However, it appears that most users so far are not incoming freshmen, as more than 40 percent of members identify themselves as 19 or 20 years old. However, part of this may be because anyone under age 18 is not allowed to post a profile. Also, older students, like School of Public Affairs senior Angelica Ramos, may feel less inclined to

post a profile as they have become

familiar with the student body over

the years.

"I don't really feel the need to 'ice-break' with anyone because this campus is pretty small so I feel like I know everyone," Ramos said.

Students who do join post profiles including their age, dating preference (male or female), location (on or off campus), year (undergraduate or graduate) and interests.

The "interests" portions of some members read like instant messenger profiles, while others read like personal ads. Some list their majors, musical tastes, favorite bars or sports hobbies. Several say they're "not really into meeting

people on the computer," while

others tout themselves as not unlike

James Bond.

Unlike the actual male-female ratios at AU, the ratio of members on AU Icebreaker are slightly different - slightly more than 60 percent men.

Horodyskyj and his friend, who wishes to remain unnamed, scan new profiles for offensive material.

"Sometimes it is a hard call, but anything sexually provocative or not in good taste is usually deleted," said Horodyskyj.

The site also includes safety precautions regarding dating or meeting an online acquaintance. Users can preview profiles without signing into the site and members can join for free, but in doing so "agree to give consent to provide members with your e-mail address," according to the site, though members' other personal contact information is not revealed.

Horodyskyj, who, along with his friend, invested $1,000 of their own money on the web design, domain registration, advertising and maintenance of the site, says he feels the site will need strong student and university support if it is to outlast its creators, as he graduates in May 2005.

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