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Photo used with permission from Rachel Quek
Lunch Tag, held from Aug. 25 – Sept. 14 among Yale-NUS students, offers the student body a chance to grow closer
through friendly competition. Students can sign up online for the event, after which they are given the name of a fellow schoolmate. The two then share a meal together anywhere and report it online, after which each student gets one point, or two if they choose to upload a photo, and are subsequently assigned a new Lunch Tag Buddy.
The purpose of Lunch Tag, according to Dean’s Fellow Anh Vo, who brought the idea to Yale-NUS, was to “be a fun way for people to meet each other,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard to just sit next to someone that you don’t know, and you don’t know how receptive they are. When you sign up for lunch tag, you already know [that] the people who sign up want to meet new people, or reconnect with old ones.”
Shreyasa Pradhan ’18 found that Lunch Tag offered her that exact opportunity. “I think it’s worked really well … it’s kind [of] been a way for me to meet new people that I usually wouldn’t reach out to otherwise. And find people who have the same interests as I do, that I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise,” she said.
However, since the website randomly assigns Lunch Tag Buddies, some students have been largely paired with classmates they already knew. Rachel Ong ’17 said, “I have had five sophomores and one freshman. My motive for lunch tag is to get to know freshmen better, that’s my whole agenda, so I think in that sense it has failed because the system keeps assigning me to sophomores.” She added, however, that her Lunch Tag experiences have nevertheless been very positive. “I think it’s good because I [got] to reconnect with some of the sophomores …[who] I don’t know really well,” she said.
Prizes for students with the highest number of points at the end of the competition include a few gift cards, courtesy of the Dean of Students Office. Yet, most students are more interested in the social aspect of Lunch Tag than the competitive one, according to Ong.
During Vo’s freshman year at Yale, her Freshman Counselors ran a Lunch Tag for all first-years at her residential college. The website was later created by Vo’s classmates, Peter Xu ’14 and Harry Yu ’14. “I want to give a huge shoutout to Peter and Harry, they are the ones who really made this happen. Even if I had this idea, it wouldn’t be feasible without the website,” Vo said.
Most of the participants hoped to be paired with students who are not in their own year, in order to get to know the other class better, Pradhan said. A system geared more toward this mentality, according to Ong, could make Lunch Tag a better success if it was repeated. “I would ask ,‘Would you prefer to have lunch with sophomores or freshmen?’ So you would give people a choice. That would enable better matching,” she said.
Vo said that Lunch Tag will most likely repeat, but it is unclear whether it will be on a semester or annual basis.