Published on February 11, 2014 | by Emily Segameglio1
UAL students desperately seeking sugar daddiesDozens of UAL students have signed up to SeekingArrangement.com, a website which links cash-strapped students with so-called “sugar daddies”.
With 89 students on board, UAL is now ranked as the UK’s 12th biggest ‘sugar baby’ university, with the Universities of Kent and Nottingham at the top of the table.
The website, designed for wealthy men seeking companionship with younger women, has courted thousands of UK students by offering them free membership; the use of a university email account has allowed the site to track data worldwide.
This data has been used to rank the top 20 UK universities with the highest number of students using the site, according to new sign-ups for 2013.
The list includes Cambridge University, one of the world’s most highly regarded institutions, in fourth place.
As of January 1, 2014, more than one million students were said to be actively using SeekingArrangement.com, representing around 42 per cent of the site’s sugar baby population.
In 2013, the site experienced a 54 per cent increase in students registering for the site, with the average sugar baby at university receiving an allowance of £5,000 per month.
NUS Welfare Officer Colum McGuire said: “These statistics seem to be based on registration figures rather than active membership. For instance, the site states that they offer free membership to students who register with their school address, thereby providing detailed statistics upon registration of interest, but it’s not showing those who actually participate in the service.”
Francesca, a King’s College student, signed up to the site after a recommendation from her friend, and in the past two years she has had two sugar daddies.
Now she just has one who gives her an average of £2,000 a month, enabling her to pay her rent, save money and pay off university loans.
She said: “If you are looking for someone to take care of you and help, why not? It’s the same as dating any other man except, there’s more to be had from a sugar daddy. I’ve never done anything I wasn’t comfortable doing. If I don’t want to, then I say so. You need to be honest when you get into these things.”
It is likely that many more students sign up using a private email address. This is the case of one 23-year-old UAL student who recently joined the site, and who agreed to share her initial impression of her search for a suitable sugar daddy.
“He was quite insistent and asked me a few times ‘what I was ready to do’ to make his money worthwhile. We hadn’t even met yet and I already felt that I had to comply with his desires”
After receiving an average of six emails per day from prospective sugar daddies, the student, who wished to be known only as Chanel, decided to reply to the ones who looked ‘genuine’.
She spoke to Arts London News about meeting a middle-aged man through a Skype conversation:
“I must say I felt pretty uncomfortable speaking about money on my first Skype date with a sugar daddy. However, it is part of the deal and let’s face it, it’s the main reason why us sugar babies are on the site in the first place.
“My potential sugar daddy and I concluded that if after the first meeting we decided to carry on, he would pay me around £3,000 a month – plus extras. That would mean meeting him a couple of times a week.”
While this may sound appealing for students who are struggling to pay all basic outgoings and their loan repayments, it is clear that sugar daddies are looking for more than just company:
“This Skype meeting happened to be quite awkward to be honest. He was quite insistent and asked me a few times ‘what I was ready to do’ to make his money worthwhile. We hadn’t even met yet and I already felt that I had to comply with his desires,” Chanel said.
While many critics claim that SeekingArrangement.com is nothing more than “prostitution 2.0”, others worried that it may lead to more extreme cases if sugar daddies want more.
In February 2011 Marcelo Augusto Alves, from Florida, was sentenced to life in prison for violently raping a woman he met on SugarDaddyForMe.com while in January 2013, New York sugar daddy Lakhinder Vohra, 47, was also accused of rape after meeting a 26-year-old student on SeekingArrangement.com, but the case was thrown out for lack of evidence.
Mutually beneficialAngela Bermudo, Public Relations Manager for SeekingArrangement.com, defended the site saying: “SeekingArrangement is just as safe as any other dating website. In fact, we may even be safer, as we are one of the only dating websites that offer background checks and regularly monitor messages for quality. SeekingArrangementis a dating community, not a service where women are hired to perform a job.”
“The sugar lifestyle is about mutually beneficial arrangements. This means that each party gets exactly the same amount of benefits as they provide. Men are exchanging financial stability and mentorship for companionship with an ideal partner,” she added.
While some UAL students have signed up for these sites, others have expressed their disapproval; Arianna Luparia, a third year fashion design student at LCF said: “I think the rise of the fees will create situations like this which are not safe for students. For some, it might be the only way to have the money to pay back their loan or to live in London, which is really sad. The government is partly responsible and they should find a solution for it or there will be more and more websites like this one.”