Under the Button is part of a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

From Marriage Pacts to Engagement Days: Penn’s Promise of Everlasting Love


Photo by Meresa García / The Daily Pennsylvanian

From its prestigious graduate programs to its top-tier interdisciplinary education, the University of Pennsylvania is undoubtedly well deserving of high praise. However, Penn’s academic achievements often overshadow the hidden, yet abundant nature of love thriving on its campus. 

Only an observant eye can detect the subtleties that hint at the University’s hand at matchmaking: the LOVE sculpture is placed at the heart of our campus; we are located in the City of Brotherly Love; our marvelous founder, Benjamin Franklin, is rumored to have had quite a wandering eye …  

Yet, as COVID-19 reached its peak, Penn’s support of its student’s search for everlasting love has become surprisingly apparent. 

In the past two semesters, a quarter of Penn’s nearly $1 billion budget was invested in the romantic affairs of its student body, a .4% increase from any previous year. The University recognized the need for increased attention on “student’s love lives” given the “unprecedented anti-social climate” of current college life. 

The first major love program took the form of Penn Marriage Pact. Interested students answered a 50 question survey where they were asked anything from their gender preference to their stance on public policies. After the algorithm matched students with the most compatible partner, it would be up to them to make the first move. However, Penn administration worried the lack of student confidence could result in fewer connections. 

Penn therefore made the executive decision to announce match reveals during the incredibly anticipated Spring Stay, or as what the administration secretly thought of as “the honeymoon period”. To kindle the passion of these nascent relationships, Penn invited students to participate in romantic gateways at the Philadelphia Zoo, the Class of ‘23 Ice Rink and the Aquarium in neighboring New Jersey. 

“I was a little nervous at first,” described College first year Kyle Huang. “You know, meeting up with a random person just because some AI said we’d be a good match. And besides, being new to campus, I didn’t really know of many places where we could even go.” 

But when he heard of the several exciting Spring Stay activities taking place, Huang made the decision to reach out to his Marriage Pact match and instantly knew he made the right decision. 

“I’m really grateful to Penn because, well, they were like my wingman, as weird as that sounds. But without all these things to do, I honestly don’t think Noah and I would have formed this amazing bond that we currently have. We’ll always think of the Spring Scavenger Hunt of ‘21 as our meet cute. And that’s all thanks to Penn.” 

Foreseeing the success of these events, the University also created Engagement Days during which partners can devote time to wedding planning without the added stress of online class. Penn will offer couples the chance to reserve the Bio Pond, the Love Statue, the entirety of Locust Walk, and other scenic campus locations for any engagement photos they wish to take. 

Undoubtedly, weddings are expensive affairs, especially if executed well. But the University is committed to offering 100% of demonstrated financial need to any partners that require assistance. Penn Student Registration and Financial Aid Services promises to work closely with couples to find the payment plan option that best fits their needs. 

“I appreciate all that SRFS has done for Andy and me,” commented Wharton sophomore Luisa Hetfield. “Our counselor Stacy really made sure we applied for all the best loans so that we could have our dream wedding, which we plan to have this May right on Shoemaker Green!” 

Penn is also aware that not everybody may be looking for a serious commitment just yet. That’s why, for the last 47 years, the University has held one of the largest college parties any Greek life member can only dream of hosting: Spring Fling. The annual festival is a time where singles can enter into casual and non-monogamous involvements with one another. More often than not, however, many of these brief love affairs do end in dedicated relationships. Even though Spring Fling will be entirely virtual this year, the University still plans to announce the many amorous activities geared toward students looking for someone(s) to informally date. 

While the current Penn motto reflects the quality Ivy League education it has to offer, the University’s original adage of 1740 is still quite representative of what this campus aims to provide: absque amore est vita inutilia. Life without love is useless