Data Match “reply-all” emails disrupt class

Each year, Westminster students raise money to build a house through Habitat For Humanity. Student government plays a big part in helping gain funds through bake sales, selling treats such as ice cream floats at sporting events, and, this past month, Valentine’s Day themed events.

The most popular Valentine’s Day themed fundraiser this year was the Data Match survey. Student Government members have created a Data Match survey many times before, and have even programmed their own software to make the matches over the past few years.

The Data Match survey consists of a list of creative multiple choice questions such as, to cite a few examples form this year’s survey, “What is your favorite type of pasta” or  “What is your favorite MarioKart course.” After students answer the survey, the system matches each individual with people in the school who shared the most answers with them.

“I don’t know how it started, but I think that it’s interesting and fun to see who you’re matched up with in the school,” said junior class officer Klara Lou. “We thought it would generate a lot of fundraising for Habitat.”

Student Government creates the survey through a long process. They have meetings every Tuesday, and during the three meetings before Valentine’s Week they begin generating questions for the survey. They combine questions from previous years with new ones that they come up with.

“We just try to make them funny, they’re not really that serious,” said Lou.

They try to think of questions that can have a lot of different answers in order to make the survey more interesting.

After making the questions, the Student Government advisors check over them and send them to the deans. Then, the deans must look through them and make sure they are appropriate.

“There’s always a lot that are not approved,” said Lou.

This year, the Data Match Survey caused some controversy due to the question, “Who is your favorite dictator?” Some believed that the question was not appropriate, but others were not bothered by it.

“I was okay with it because I understood that it was supposed to just be a joke, but I also understand why some people could get offended by the question,” said freshman Mikaela Sanders.

The debate caused a long chain email sent to the entire Upper School, only to be stopped by dean of girls Tiffany Boozer because the emails were unproductive and disrupting classes. Senior class co-president Amanda Brothers later sent out an email apologizing to the school for the question, explaining that it was intended to be humorous and was not meant to offend anyone.

The results of each student’s Data Match survey were sold on Wednesday, Feb. 10 and Thursday, Feb. 11 during lunch and throughout the Valentine’s Day dance. Each student had two papers of results. One page consisted of the student’s top 10 best and worst matches for girls and guys in their grade specifically. The other page consisted of the same thing, except it included the entire Upper School. Each page was sold for $1, and between $800 and $900 was raised for Habitat for Humanity through selling the Data Match Survey results alone. Students were eager to receive their results, crowding around the lunch table and trying to find out who their best and worst matches were.

“I bought it because it seemed cool to know who I’m the most similar to in the school,” said freshman Kate Carson. “It’s also for a good cause.”

Another way Student Government raises money for Habitat during Valentine’s Day week is through Valentine’s Day cards. These cards give students the opportunity to send their friends heartfelt messages and some candy. Each card is sold for $1.  This year, the Valentine’s cards raised a profit of around $100.

“Data Match is more popular, especially because you can send out Valentine’s cards without paying for them, but Data Match is also more interesting,” said Lou.

Overall, Student Government was able to raise around $1000 for Habitat for Humanity during Valentine’s Week alone.