WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — The number of Purdue University students who signed up in search of "sugar daddies" on the website SeekingArrangement.com nearly doubled in 2012.
SeekingArrangement.com is similar to a dating website but is designed for an exchange of payment between two people. The benefactor, or "sugar daddy," pays the "sugar baby" a monthly allowance in exchange for her company.
The website claims it is not a prostitution or escort service. It explains the arrangement as "mutually beneficial dating."
"The types of relationship depend on what the benefactor is individually seeking," Leroy Velasquez, manager of public relations for the site, told the Journal & Courier (http://on.jconline.com/W4jSRV ). "It could be friendship, someone to travel with, someone to take to events, or any number of things."
The Las Vegas-based website tracks the number of Purdue students registered as members by their school email addresses. There are 87 students who belong to the site, an increase of 40 students since the end of 2011. Velasquez said because there are a large number of students who don't use their school email addresses to register, it is likely that the number of Purdue students on the site is even greater.
College students account for 44 percent of the more than 2 million SeekingArrangement users worldwide. Of all the universities with students on the site, Purdue was ranked 74th for largest membership increase in 2012.
But it's not just students using SeekingArrangement.com.
In Greater Lafayette, there are 336 females and 101 males registered with SeekingArrangement. Of those users, 63 are sugar daddies and three are sugar mommies.
The website is free to use for sugar babies, the majority of whom are females in college. The average monthly allowance paid to a sugar baby is $3,000, according to company officials.
All local sugar babies contacted by the Journal & Courier declined to comment on their involvement, but Velasquez said the typical user puts allowance money toward tuition or to support a more expensive lifestyle. It also is common for sugar daddies to pay rent or buy frequent gifts for the sugar babies.
Aviva Orenstein, a professor of law at Indiana University, said the activities on SeekingArrangement.com are "just vague enough" to be legal.
"It's hard to distinguish what is outright prostitution," Orenstein said. "If someone is getting married to someone for their money, that's not legally prostitution, even though morally you might say that's exchanging sex for money.
"This site is the same . just hazy enough that you don't know what's going on between the two people."
Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com