The recent murder of Temple University student Jenna Burleigh has brought the importance of dating safety to the forefront of modern dating conversation. Josh Hupperterz, who Burleigh met on Tinder, has been convicted of her murder.
According to police, Hupperterz’s grandfather discovered Burleigh’s body while doing maintenance on the family’s property. The motive behind the murder is still unknown at this time, but Burleigh did not know this man outside of Tinder.
With Tinder, Bumble and many other dating apps being the new and popular way to meet people, there are several dangers that come along with this new form of dating. Typically, when meeting someone on these apps and deciding to meet in person, there is risk present in not personally knowing them beforehand. Some people create false identities and personalities behind the screens of technology.
“There was one occasion where I met up with a guy I had been talking to on Tinder and when I decided I wanted to leave, he began to get a little aggressive,” said Alexis Arbutina, a senior education major at WCU.
It is these types of incidents that Arbutina, Burleigh and so many other young people across the country have experienced that have increased the awareness and priority for dating safely with technology.
The Tinder app has a list of safety precautions they advise all of their users to practice. Some of these tips include: get to know the other person before meeting, meet in a public place, provide your own form of transportation, tell family and friends about the date ahead of time and stay sober on the date so as to not impair your judgment.
Dating dangers can occur in any type of situation, regardless of how the people met. However, as of 2016, Tinder had 7 million monthly members, made over 20 billion matches and the age group of users was 18-29. These large numbers demonstrate that using apps to meet people has become the new norm.
This trend carries over onto college campuses. In a survey taken of 23 students at WCU, 70 percent said they have either previously used or are still using Tinder. With so many students using the app on campus, it is important to know what safety options are available if a Tinder date goes wrong.
Across the nation, bars are also starting to introduce the “angel shot” program. This incentive gives men and women a code word to ask the bartender for help if they feel they are in a dangerous situation. Ordering an “angel shot” at the bar will let the bartender know if people are in a dangerous or an uncomfortable situation.
According to Business Insider, if a bar is participating in the angel shot program, there will be instructions on how to order the shot at the bar posted in the women’s bathroom. There are also multiple ways to order the shot, all with different meanings behind them. For example an angel shot neat means an escort to their vehicle is wanted, an angel shot with ice means please call an Uber and an angel shot with lime means call the police.
Knowing of restaurants and bars that participate in the angel shot program can also give women a safe place to meet a new person they met via a dating app. Pushing this incentive out and making it even more common could potentially prevent future injuries, assaults and fatalities from digital dating.
As WCU students, it is important to know where you can get help when you are on campus or, simply put, not at a bar. According to the WCU Public Safety website, there are emergency phones located in most buildings as well as in parking lots and garages across campus. Simply pushing the button on these phones will automatically connect you to the public safety communications center. If you are not near one of these emergency phones, you can contact a public safety dispatcher at (610) 436-3311.
In any off campus situation, public safety encourages students to call 911.
While online dating and the use of dating apps certainly come with potential dangers, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Matchups on Tinder and similar apps have led to good outcomes, even marriages for people. Online dating can lead to positive romantic interactions, but both dating sites and school resources agree that those who participate stay aware, cautious and safe.
Kristen Baschoff is a student majoring in English literature track. She can be reached at KB833834@wcupa.edu.
Mackenzie Haverdink is a student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at MH850486@wcupa.edu.