NYU students know it all too well: the almost laughable cost of attending this college. And what’s more? The painful price of living in New York. The financial stress induced by tuition can’t always be solved by scholarships and financial aid. In fact, some NYU students have turned to an unconventional source of income to foot these bills: sugar daddies.
Making money through apps like SeekingArrangement, which pair “sugar babies” — defined by SeekingArrangement as “attractive people looking for the finer things in life” — with successful men and women looking to spend money on companionship, has become increasingly popular at a number of colleges. NYU placed third on the list of the fastest growing sugar baby schools of 2018. This list featured six other New York schools: Syracuse University, Pace University, The New School, Fordham University, University at Buffalo and Columbia University.
SeekingArrangement advertises the arrangement as being one that is mutually beneficial, where both parties get exactly what they expect.
However, a sugar daddy arrangement isn’t as simple as SeekingArrangement suggests, no matter how it may sound on the surface. The lavish lifestyle comes at a price. Despite what many students would like to believe, most sugar daddies aren’t simply seeking company — they’re seeking sex. Oftentimes, the arrangement ceases to be mutually beneficial, leaving the sugar baby uncomfortable or unsatisfied. A CAS freshman, who asked to remain anonymous, was paid $200 per meetup with her sugar daddy but ended up feeling objectified after her experience, noting she was forced to perform sexual acts she was not comfortable with. The most uncomfortable situation occurred when an older man told her she looked younger than 18 and that he liked it.
There are certainly a great deal of reasons why one might enter a sugar daddy and sugar baby relationship, but financial motivations seem to be top of the list for NYU students. A sophomore in CAS previously earned $50 to $1000 a month as a sugar baby. She was arm candy that her sugar daddy could take around to events to impress other people.
“At the time [of the arrangement], I felt that it was my only option— I was living alone in a new city, with no support from my parents,” the student said. “I eventually stopped after three months because using someone else’s money felt like I was somehow cheating or that I owed him something.”
A Stern junior, who also requested anonymity, is currently in the process of locking down her sugar daddy. The arrangement, if agreed on, will earn the student $4,000 a month. The motivation behind joining SeekingArrangement? The student is currently paying for all of their living expenses and wants to begin paying off loans.
“I also grew up in and out of poverty, so I’d like to get to experience luxury for once,” the student said. This student advised others seeking a sugar daddy to be careful about account owners who make fake promises about the payment and the agreement in general, and said “A lot of the guys you’ll meet on sites like Seeking Arrangements are not the real deal.”
One prominent argument against the sugar baby lifestyle is that some claim a moral problem with sex work. An anonymous Tisch freshman, who almost committed to a sugar daddy but decided not to because of the time commitment, commented on the these criticisms of the practice.
“If the baby is enjoying their time with the daddy and wants to be around them, it is not prostitution: it is free choice,” the student said. “If it’s purely sex with someone the baby isn’t attracted to and wouldn’t otherwise be involved with, [I think] it’s closer to prostitution.”
Some students, such as a Gallatin freshman who was previously paid $900 a month by a sugar daddy, believe that these arrangements are sex work in some form, but don’t agree with the stigma that surrounds sugar daddy agreements.
“You could say it’s a form of sex work, but I do not think that sex work is morally corrupt,” the Gallatin freshman said. “People should have the freedom and autonomy to exchange their emotional, physical and/or intellectual faculties to get what they want or need … The stigmatization of this work stems from society’s deeply embedded misogyny and mystification of sex.”
Maybe you can look past the faults a relationship from SeekingArrangement may come with, as many NYU students have. Perhaps, the cons outweigh the pros, and you recognize that relationships like these just aren’t for you. Whatever the case, as long as the cost of college remains high, the sugar baby lifestyle isn’t disappearing.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 20 print edition. Email Marisa Lopez at [email protected]