The Bloomingtonian

IU student met date rape suspect on Tinder; Dating app still popular on campus during COVID

By Mary Claire Molloy – Special to The Bloomingtonian

IUPD is investigating an alleged rape on Tuesday evening connected to the dating app Tinder, which remains popular with students despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a crime notice sent to students on October 7, IUPD said the incident occurred at the victim’s residence, Memorial Hall at Wells Quad, around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday. The suspect is currently unknown to IUPD, but is believed to be a non-student. The victim met them through Tinder, a popular dating and hookup app among college students.

IUPD has not immediately responded to further requests for comment. 

This case underscores concerns about Tinder, including that it is used to facilitate dangerous and non-consensual encounters (the company added a panic button as a safety feature for users in January). It also highlights that IU Bloomington students are still using the dating app during a global pandemic.

The Bloomingtonian made a journalistic Tinder account to see what the app’s dating scene looks like during the fall semester.

Multiple users from Indiana University posted photos of their negative coronavirus mitigation testing results. Other users included coronavirus jokes in their Tinder bios: “Got the antibodies”, “Rona survivor” and “masks stay ON during sex.” 

Ryan Bellucci, a freshman at IU Bloomington, said he has been on around 30 to 35 Tinder dates since coming to campus. He said Tinder dates are the same as they were pre-pandemic, except for wearing masks. 

“It’s pretty much the only way you can meet people right now,” he told The Bloomingtonian.

Bellucci, 19, said he does not usually ask his dates about their recent coronavirus test results. He even went on a mitigation testing date with one woman. They met at Franklin Hall, took their spit tests together and then went out on a date.

“I’m not scared of the virus,” he said. “If I get it again, I’ll be fine.” 

Bellucci said he likely had an asymptomatic case back in February when most of his Louisville high school wrestling team fell ill, some with pneumonia. It was before there were any COVID tests available, he said, so the cases were never officially confirmed.

Since he lives away from home at college, he said he does not worry about giving coronavirus to anyone who is immunocompromised, like his grandparents. 

“The only other people I see are other teenagers my age who don’t have any pre-existing medical conditions.”

When asked about other safety concerns, such as sexual assault, Bellucci said people should not blame Tinder.

“I’m not surprised a rape happened on campus… but I don’t feel like they needed to report that Tinder was in that case because Tinder didn’t cause it,” he said. “It’s how people use it.”

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