A first year computer science major has developed an app called “FastRush” that will be replacing the traditional rush system for sororities starting in Spring 2019.
The student, who only wanted to be identified as “C.S” said that she was inspired after hearing many late night conversations about the stresses of rush during her first semester. “Also, I really, really needed a side project to put on my resume,” she added.
After submitting an application with choice phrases like “Tinder for rush with blockchain,” the Scarsdale native received a $500 grant from the Innovation Co-lab, which was used to purchase new clothes, makeup, and the $85 rush registration fee. C.S. was able to experience rush first-hand and note the problems.
"From what I saw, rush was exhausting and difficult for four reasons. (1) it was hard to keep track of so many people, (2) I felt judged all the time, and (3) I had to pay $85 for people to judge me all the time. And (4), other people said that the process can be superficial and promotes self-segregation. This app solves the first three problems, which means that I can put on my resume that the app has solved, like, 75% of the problems."
Essentially, the app removes the whole step of actually having to meet people—it lets the existing members judge rushees’ appearances and personalities from afar. Now, people can rush while sitting through a boring class, from the comfort of their beds, in the common room, or even from a tent in K-ville. The app links all social media profiles, including home zip code, high school, and uses geolocation data to track how long they've stayed at each party.
“People will say that eye contact, body language, and tone of voice are all irreplicable parts of in person conversation,” C.S said, “but emoji use, response time, and use of punctuation—all that can’t be conveyed IRL.”
When asked about potential privacy issues that could arise as a result of the app’s extensive data collection—in particular the rushee’s location—___ pointed out that, “I made it very clear in the terms and conditions that this app would be tracking significant amounts of personal data. It shows up about halfway through the 50-page contract.”
From the rushee’s perspective, the app will have multiple “rooms” to navigate through, one for each organization. The rushee will then hold short conversations over text with current members following a designated format.
After judging whether they would fit into the organization on the basis of their basic profile, current sisters can decide to enable “Not Interested” mode. The rushee would see no difference, but “Not Interested” mode routes the rushee to a chatbot. Current members can also choose to enable “Not Interested” mode at any point during a conversation.
“Who’s ever had a good conversation in that depressing building BioSci anyways?” said one member of Greek Life who supported the creation of the app, in reference to rush taking place this year in various academic buildings on West Campus.
The app is only available in the Apple Store (because heck, Android users are already deviating from the norm) for $39.99. "That’s less than half the price it costs to register for rush. We’re increasing affordability for students.”
When asked where the app revenue would go, now that operation costs have been cut down significantly, the maker said, "Why does that matter? This app is doing a service to the community. Why is everyone so concerned about money?" as she checked the value of her Etherium wallet and walked by a work-study student.
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The app, exciting as is, is due for many enhancements in store future versions. Coming improvements include calculating "chances" for potential rushees based on a black-box algorithm, as well as incorporating a forum where people can post their profile and have other ill-informed rushees estimate their odds.
C.S. received a bid from every sorority, raising suspicions that she had hacked into the system as well. Ultimately, she decided to turn down all the bids, saying “I’m really just hoping that this gives me a leg up on my Google summer internship application.”
SLGs have considered adopting a similar model, though they are worried about socioeconomic affordability. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t see the benefits.
“All those rushees who come to our parties just for the free alcohol? This app makes sure that the only people who rush are the people who really want to rush and want to get to know us as people.”
Amy Fan is a Trinity sophomore. Her column, "fangirling," runs on alternate Wednesdays.