Sugar is sometimes said to be a response to stress. Whether it’s digging into a tub of ice cream after a tough break-up or treating yourself to sweets after a stressful exam, college students are no strangers to resorting to sugar for some emotional relief.
That type of sugar, however, won’t do much to resolve financial stressors, so students are getting creative for ways to combat student debt, like becoming someone's "sugar baby."
Kent State is among the top universities for sign-ups on SeekingArrangement.com, a website that connects users to “sugar daddies” and “sugar mommies.”
In the site’s annual Sugar Baby University report, Kent State placed eighth on the list with 124 new sign-ups in 2016, making for a current total of 1,074 accounts using a @kent.edu email address. Of those new users, 15 were male and 109 were female.
“We don’t comment on the personal lives of our students, staff or faculty members,” said Eric Mansfield, Kent State's executive director of university media relations.. “Students, staff and faculty members who are issued @kent.edu emails may use them for personal use.”
The use of Kent State email addresses are still available to alumni and staff after they leave the university.
When registering for the site, users specify what type of arrangement they are seeking and create a profile based on criteria such as height, body type, location, relationship status and monthly spending habits.
According to SeekingArrangement.com, “sugar babies” are “attractive people looking for the finer things in life. They appreciate exotic trips and gifts. ‘Sugar babies’ get to experience a luxurious lifestyle, and meet wealthy people on a regular basis.”
Users registering with an .edu email address receive free premium memberships. There are currently 484,695 “sugar daddies” and 42,913 “sugar mommies” registered to the site, according to SeekingArrangement’s report.
According to the website, 2016 saw an 11 percent increase in student membership, which the site attributes to the student debt crisis.
“Students are tired of hearing politicians’ hyperbole about what they might do to resolve the student debt crisis,” CEO Brandon Wade said in a statement. “They’re taking matters into their own hands.”
While users do not have to specify that debt is a reason for their enrollment, the site conducted research to determine the motivation behind the increase in student enrollment.
“We noticed the trend about six years ago after seeing thousands of students globally using their university email addresses to create accounts,” said Mara Welp, publicist for SeekingArrangement. “We conducted extensive research on our members and discovered that many ‘sugar babies’ were using the site to fund their college education.”
Kent State is not new to this annual ranking: last year it took the No. 5 spot. Rankings on controversial lists is not a new trend for the university.
In 2015, @kent.edu email addresses ranked as the third most popular university email address registered to Ashley Madison, a dating site meant for married or committed individuals looking to cheat.
Welp said sugar babies take home an average allowance of $2,441 a month — a few hundred dollars less than the cost of Kent State’s lite dining plan.
Erin Zaranec is a features correspondent for the Kent Stater, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org