The torch goes out on ‘Survivor: Lafayette’ after six weeks of competition

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‘Survivor: Lafayette’ competitions were held every Wednesday night outside of Hogg Hall. (Photo courtesy of Lafayette Activities Forum)

Tanushree Sow Mondal, Staff Writer

For the past six weeks, ten Pards have competed in a series of intense challenges in “Survivor: Lafayette.” In last week’s finale, Emily Rotola ’24 took home the title of Lafayette Survivor and a $500 College Store gift card.

“Survivor: Lafayette,” mirrored after the CBS reality show “Survivor,” involved weekly challenges for eight initial contestants chosen from a pool of student applicants. Two additional contestants were added to the show in a second-week twist.

Rotola said that she appreciates the effort from the organizers to closely emulate and draw inspiration from the show. 

“This is the first time they’re doing this…They did a good job, especially given all the circumstances. I appreciated the challenges,” Rotola said.” They also had an immunity idol for the whole tribe. It’s this statue with three monkeys on it. It was pretty cool.”

The players were divided into two tribes through a draw of bandanas in the first week of challenges. The tribes then competed against each other in the following weeks until the fifth week, when the tribes were merged and players competed individually. Every week, a player got voted out. Eliminated players composed the jury that eventually decided the winner. 

“We planned a lot of the twists to try and keep things as even as possible. The tricky part about this in comparison to the show is that the players know each other going into it,” Melissa Ash, assistant director of Student Engagement and Civic Leadership, who organized the event, said. “So, we wanted to try and combat that popularity aspect by creating a twist every week that would modify how they may be creating alliances with each other.”

The program was originally conceived during the pandemic, according to Ash. The challenges were envisioned in a virtual setting where players would be given kits to compete on Zoom. However, sensing that a virtual setting may be fatiguing for students, Student Involvement decided to postpone the competition until the college moved to be fully in-person this fall.

For the organizers, one of the most memorable aspects of Survivor was seeing the game connect players beyond the challenges.

“From the programming side of things, it was cool to see connections go beyond the program. A lot of the students were first- and second-year students,” Melissa Dalrymple, assistant director of Student Involvement, who also organized the event, said. “When they’re seniors, they’ll still look back and have a strong connection to those people they competed with.”

For me, seeing that you all remember this is an experience that you should be enjoying and it shouldn’t be just stress was what topped everything,” Ash said.

Dalrymple and Ash expressed plans of repeating “Survivor: Lafayette” for the upcoming years.

“I think we have the next five years mapped out. We’ve gotten so much feedback. Students are like, ‘There’s got to be alumni versus students.’ I think next year will be faculty and staff versus students…They’re going to have STEM versus humanities…Seniors versus first-years,” Ash said.

For now, the tribe has spoken.