Have you ever thought that you need to meet more of your school mates, but you’re just too shy and/or apathetic to actually go out of your way and talk to people? Well, now you can reach out and connect with other University of Regina students where you’re most comfortable: from behind your phone.
URconnecting.com matches you to a random U of R student and let’s you text them. All you need to do is sign up with a valid @uregina.ca email account, and after the obligatory a/s/m (age, sex, major), you’re on your way to booty calling and text bombing other U of R students.
“It didn’t seem like it’d be too hard to make, and I thought it could be kind of fun for students, like first year students and stuff like that to kinda meet people,” said creator Jordan Howlett.
URconnecting went public when Howlett, a fourth-year computer science major here at the U of R, posted a link to Reddit on September 2. This isn’t the first University of Regina-based social media outlet that Howlett has created, as last fall he launched the short-lived URhotURnot.org.
To get started, users sign up with their University of Regina Webmail account, and a confirmation email is sent there shortly thereafter and prompts you for your phone number, but reassures you that “no one else will ever see it” as all texts are redirected to a third party’s phone and forwarded to you. The only information your texting partner sees is your age, sex, and area of study.
“I don’t give out anyone’s names or anything, so if they want to take that and be like, ‘Here’s my actual number if you want to text me’,” said Howlett.
Because of the website’s figurative and literal youth, it is experiencing some growing pangs.
“I’m hoping to get a few users right away to work out the bugs and stuff because it’s really hard to debug it because I have to be able to have phones texting each other … hopefully I can get some people to try it out and report back with anything that goes wrong,” said Howlett.
And, at time of print, the site was still seemingly full of bugs that need to be fixed, mainly with getting the whole thing started. After some tinkering around though, I was able to connect with a partner.
My excitement was short-lived though, as after a friendly “ahoy”, I was sent a message saying, “Everyone else is currently talking. You will be alerted when someone comes available!”. I was paired up with someone else, but after I told them I worked at the Carillon, my partner left the conversation, possibly still sore about The Hate Issue.
“It didn’t seem like it’d be too hard to make, and I thought it could be kind of fun for students, like first year students and stuff like that to kinda meet people." – Jordan Howlett
I did eventually get paired up with someone willing to chat briefly though. The anonymous fourth-year film student he felt safe to meet up in the real world with someone they met on here “because it requires a U of R [sic] email to sign up” and that “[w]ith the right marketing and promotion [URconnecting] could take off”.
The anonymous texter signed off shortly thereafter, and I was then paired with Mike Clory, a fourth-year marketing student. Clory said he joined URconnecting “[t]o meet new people around the university that I likely would not have had a chance to meet otherwise. You never know who you’ll get along with! Plus it’s a really cool idea”.
Despite past breaches of security with University of Regina websites in previous years Howlett doesn’t feel concerned with the security of URconnecting.com.
“All passwords are going to be hashed and everything, so they’re pretty secure. If they got into my database right now, they [phone] numbers will be hashed with the password as well, so if you got into the database, you wouldn’t see them in clear text. Hopefully, it’ll be okay … I’m not expecting anyone here will be hacking into it,” said Howlett.
Howlett is hoping that with the increase in student traffic to the university once classes begin will also include a corresponding increase in traffic to URconnecting.
“Hopefully, it can withstand the load or whatever for the amount of people who view it. I think it could be cool. First-year students could meet people that way easily,” said Howlett.
If the social media outlet gains enough popularity, Howlett is looking to expand it with more features.
“If it got popular enough, I have some things — I’d like to add some features and stuff that’d be interesting. We’ll see if it gets there,” said Howlett.
His ideas for expansion include being able to request to speak with students from specific faculties, or even specific classes.
“It would be nice to be able to specify who you want to talk to, like I want to talk to a random engineering student. I think it’d be neat if you were in class and you could hashtag CS310 and you’d join a group conversation with everyone in that class and text each other,” said Howlett.
Right now, though, this isn’t quite reasonable, as “it doesn’t make too much sense because there’s only a few people on it”.
Maybe once things pick up, Howlett can integrate Facetime into URconnecting and things can really get like ChatRoulette. Everyone knows watching random classmates masturbate is way better than watching random strangers.