Impact caught up with Tom Thurlow, founder of ShagAtUni.com, a dating site dedicated to “no-strings” sex.
Why do you feel Shag at Uni is necessary? You wouldn’t think Uni students need much help getting laid…
I also run the dating site DateAtUni.com, which is probably about a year old. I thought there was a need to start ShagAtUni.com because some of the users were using the site for casual sex instead of a serious, long-term relationship. So I decided to create a site that literally hones in on casual sex.
Who do you see as your competitors?
Big names like Match.com or e-harmony.com, I suppose. But I think our main competitor is something like plentyoffish.com
How do you know all your members are university students?
There’s no way to know if all the members are students. One of things that we say is you don’t actually have to be a student to join the site. We have a lot of students join, but we also have a lot of people who are friends of students for example. We don’t have a problem with non-students joining because frankly it makes the database bigger. The site is for students to have sex but also for people who want to have sex with students.
Do you think there’s a problem with men who are much older looking for young girls?
Yeah, exactly. So that’s why we have an age parameter on the site. You have to be younger than 30 to join the site.
How many Nottingham students on the site?
(long pause) These stats are a few days old now but Nottingham have 1,208 registered members.
What reactions have you had so far?
I think it’s been positive. It’s inevitable that students are going to have sex and what I’m doing is just making it available online. If there has been any negativity, a couple of articles – like the Daily Mail one – have questioned whether students really need a website to help them have sex . But with the number of users we have been getting, I’d argue that clearly they do! Some students sign up because they’re unlucky in the clubs. Some students sign up because they want to “top up” the amount of sex that they have – they have a lot of sex anyway but decide they want more so use our website.
Does ShagAtUni cater toward gay people?
Yes, we do.
Why do you make men pay more?
This is something that just happens in the adult dating market as whole. It’s a fairly standard procedure to let women join for free because men tend to join these sites more than women do. The way to encourage more women to sign up and to keep the ratio even is to let women join for free.
On your site you say “When you’re away from home and away from your partner for that length of time, we understand you have sexual needs to be fulfilled.” Do you think it is morally acceptable to encourage students to cheat on their partners?
I want to go on the website and just re-read that. (Pause) Okay, I don’t personally endorse cheating, but I’m equally not saying that it’s not okay. My site can serve that purpose if you feel you want to do that. I don’t think it’s my responsibility to tell people what’s right and what’s wrong. I’m against anyone saying they believe you should be able to tell people how to behave. That’s their decision and if they want to use the site to do that, then that’s what they will do whatever.
Ellis Schindler and Izzy Scrimshire