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'Campus is their island': Students form club inspired by CBS's 'Survivor'

July 29, 2022
<p>Illustration by Madison Echlin.</p>

Illustration by Madison Echlin.

Photo by Madison Echlin | The State News

"Survivor" is a reality TV game show that places contestants in an isolated location with strangers, where they attempt to outsmart each other through mental and physical challenges.

If you ask fan and law student Michael W., the concept of the show has several striking similarities to college life.

Michael has always been a fan of "Survivor." He was inspired to create a club at MSU imitating the show because as a transfer student, he didn't yet have any connections on campus and he thought it could be a good way for students to overcome pandemic loneliness.

"I think that the college environment is very conducive for the format of survivor," Michael said. "You have a group of people all gathered in the same space ... For people who are out-of-state or live very far away, the campus is their island, right? They don't have a car with them. They can't really move or get out of the city of East Lansing."

The goal of a "Survivor" competition is to "outwit, outplay and outlast." Throughout the fall semester, members will go through a series of individual and group challenges – revealing the best strategizers and largest threats. Participants will attempt to avoid being voted off, hoping to be one of the last players standing, eligible for the grand prize.

After gauging interest, Michael and business junior Jenna Tryan began working on the "executive side" of the club – getting it registered as a legitimate student organization, finding funding for the challenges and recruiting people that will take it seriously.

"We interview everybody, regardless of how short their application was," Michael said. "That's just for us to get a better feel of, are they going to be a good fit for this game? We want to find people who are going to prioritize 'Survivor,' similarly to their other commitments that they're already involved in."

A typical game of "Survivor" consists of around 16 to 20 people, but Michael and Tryan received over 60 applications in total – meaning they had to make some cuts. It's important to them that participants will take the time to meet up with players in person because it adds to the experience.

"That's what makes it so raw and emotional," Michael said. "If someone's going to get blindsided, betrayed, they're going to feel it. It's going to hurt because they would have taken time out of their day to meet up with these people, only for them to stab them in the back."

Tryan said that there are MSU students who haven't had the chance to explore campus, whether it be because of COVID restrictions or the fact that they are entering their first year. It's important to her that the game can help immerse them in MSU's campus.

"Part of what we've been looking at, with casting and then as we are starting to design challenges and other aspects of gameplay, is figuring out how we can make this a campus-wide experience," Tryan said. "Making sure that we're exploring the different areas of campus with not just our challenges, but the ways in which that everyone is meeting up outside of challenges during the week."

For Tryan, being a part of the creation of "Survivor" MSU has been fulfilling because she gets to share her knowledge and insight about her school.

"I really just like the idea of bringing people together and letting us all make the most of our college experience," Tryan said.

Students that wish to be a part of "Survivor" MSU can find more information here.

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