VCU was named one of the top 20 fastest growing sugar-baby schools by Seeking Arrangement, a website dedicated to connecting students (sugar babies) looking to have their education paid for by wealthier individuals who are looking for companionship. While the arrangement may be consensual, the risks outweigh the benefits.
Student loans surpass credit card and auto loan debts. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, American borrowers have racked up about $1.2 trillion in outstanding federal student debt. Those numbers can be daunting.
A college diploma is the new high school diploma, and yet getting there costs much more than the average U.S. citizen can afford. But signing up for a site like seekingarrangement.com can ruin your reputation and make it harder to find a job in this market than not having a four-year degree.
Seeking Arrangement has users pick a pseudonym for their username, but that’s as far as it goes in protecting your identity. Users upload photos, name their school, age and a wealth of other personal information. Many user profiles are available for viewing without even signing up for the site. This gives employers another avenue to check on you, and gives potentially unsafe persons the opportunity to access your personal information. The images and information you post up could come back to haunt you.
Personal health is another issue stemming from websites for sugar babies and other forms of online dating. In 2004, a research team at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta found that 43 percent of the women they surveyed had had sex with someone they met online, and those women tended to have a high rate of sexually transmitted infections.
Nearly half of the 20 million new sexually transmitted diseases diagnosed each year are people aged 15 to 25 years old. College students see a higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases and adding the element of online dating increases their exposure to people and diseases if they’re not careful.
The online dating industry has seen tremendous growth. According to David Evans of OnlineDatingPost.com, the online dating industry in North America has grown from about $40 million in revenue in 2000 to more than $1.5 billion.
Many people have experienced success from online dating sites. One in three Americans have found their spouses using such a service. However, online dating is still a far cry from the services that Seeking Arrangement provides. Considering this site specifically targets college students, it is somewhat more reprehensible than other similar sites.
In a 2013 survey, the site revealed that the average sugar daddy was around 42 years old, with an average annual salary of about $500,000. Roughly one-third of the men on the site are married and the women who participate usually range from 18–25 years old.
Younger, poorer college students are much easier to manipulate than other members of society. Students who are looking for a sugar daddy are entering into contracts in which they receive money for intimate relationships or services. That is very similar to an escort service or prostitution and it crosses several moral boundaries.
Seeking Arrangement and other related sites perpetuate the objectification of young women and the treatment of women as a commodity. While it may seem to be a fair contractual arrangement, it is not fair to take advantage of students who cannot see how certain choices they make in the present can have severe consequences to their future.