RICHMOND, Va. – On January 17, a speaker hopes to tackle the complexity of “sugar babies” on campus at Virginia Commonwealth University.
The company behind Sugar Babies, which advertises its services as an alternative method of financial aid, uses verified email addresses to record the number of college students using its website.
The company recently said that Virginia Commonwealth University ranked in seventh place for new sign-up growth. There were 133 vcu.edu email addresses used to sign up for new accounts in 2016, and a total of 367 vcu.edu accounts are registered.
The site connects wealthy men with women (or several variations of that equation) looking for financial support. Over a third of their global users are college students.
In 2015, VCU made the top 20 list and then in 2016, the university broke the top ten with new, registered users. The other top schools on their list include Temple University, New York University, Arizona State University, George State University and Texas State.
Temple University, which ranked number one for new sign up and growth in 2016, has a total of 1,068 registered students using the site.
While some say the service is similar to prostitution or question the morality of trading money and gifts for affection, the website touts the sugar baby/daddy relationship as a way for female or male students to graduate debt free.
The answers to these questions are complex.
On Tuesday, Jan. 17, from 10:30 a.m. to noon, ImPACT Virginia will host a speaker to explore the complexity of mutually beneficial relationships.
The speaker, Deanna “Dede” Wallace, is a Victim Assistance Specialist (VAS) currently assigned to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Washington D.C. and Virginia, where she is responsible for victim services for victims of all forms of human trafficking.
She will host a discussion which examines if sugar babies relationships are different from the client-prostitute transaction.
Also up for discussion will be the consequences of being a sugar baby or sugar daddy, and exploring if those relationships can morph into sex trafficking and become deadly.
The event will be held at the University Commons Theater at 907 Floyd Avenue.
Sex isn’t the only motivator for sugar daddies, according to Brandon Wade, the founder and CEO of SeekingArrangement.com. Some also want to help a struggling young woman, CNN reported. Wade, 42, (who met his wife, 27, on the site) said most of the men on the site begin communication with potential sugar babies by asking them why they’re looking for a sugar daddy.
He’s found that women who say they need money to pay for school get asked out more often than those who admit they want cash for breast implants, for instance.
Atlanta-based licensed mental health therapist Harrison Davis previously said in a CNN interview that sugar relationships are all about power and youth.
On one hand, he said, these relationships remind the men of a more carefree time in their own lives. On the other hand, there’s a great sense of control.
“They can take things away and limit the amount of money they’re going to spend on the young lady. They can steer (the relationship) into any direction they want to.”