Online dating sites unite Ivy graduates

by Ryan Samuels | 2/5/02 6:00am

Although the Greek gods regularly assumed the guise of mortals to seduce regular men and women, Dartmouth graduates concerned with such things will never have to settle for mates beneath their intellectual caste thanks to online dating services catering to an academically exclusive clientele.

For the low price of $70, The Right Stuff -- located at rightstuffdating.com -- offers six months of access to pages profiling website members of the opposite sex, whom the new member may contact as suits his or her interest.

The service is "an international introduction network for single graduates and faculty of a select group of colleges and universities," according to its founder and president, Dawn Touchings.

In addition to the introductory fee and a photograph, prospective members must provide proof of graduate or faculty status at one of the schools listed on the official website. Diplomas, addressed fundraising letters, alumni or faculty cards and transcripts qualify as proof.

Schools join the list after breaking into the top 14 national universities and liberal-arts colleges in the annual rankings published by U.S. News and World Report. They retain their status with The Right Stuff if rankings later drop, however.

These schools include the eight Ivy League institutions; elite liberal arts colleges such as Amherst, Williams and Bowdoin; other prestigious universities like Stanford, Caltech and Northwestern; the military academies and Juilliard.

In an email, Touchings called membership from each college or university "proportionate to the size of the schools themselves," but added, "we may have a few more U. of Penn grads."

In addition to The Right Stuff, GoodGenes.com -- according to its website, an "Institution of Higher Pairing" -- offers similar services to alumni of a slightly broader list of schools for $60.

Touchings, a Cornell graduate who founded her company in 1993, claimed to have a membership base of over 7,000 individuals. She said that members range from 22 to 88 years of age and represent all parts of the country

She noted, however, that "educated people in the U.S. seem to head for the two coasts and Chicago."

But despite the success of GoodGenes and the Right Stuff, the exclusive companies have drawn criticism from some quarters.

In the June 2000 issue of the University of Chicago Alumni Magazine, Emily Kahl Lauterbach, a worker at the Regenstein Library on campus, accused the Right Stuff of "mean-spirited arrogance and snobbery," and demanded that the magazine "discontinue advertising with this disgusting company."

But to the many critics who accuse her and her company of elitism, Touchings responds, "education and the values that go with valuing academic success are good selectors for compatibility in other aspects of life."