Students hold “Survivor” contest on campus // The Observer

Seven Saturdays, 24 students, one survivor.

Nearly 22 years after the first season of the reality television show “Survivor” aired on CBS, Notre Dame students gathered at the Joyce Center on Saturday afternoon for the first installment of ND Survivor, a contest of several weeks based on the hit TV show.

Over the next six Saturday afternoons, students will compete in physical and mental challenges and elect each other until there is one survivor left. The last survivor will win a $25 gift card of their choice.

After losing the first ND Survivor Challenge on Saturday, the Green Tribe members strategize in front of the Tribal Council.

Mike Guyette, a sophomore from Albany, New York, is the host of ND Survivor and organized it with the help of a few friends and classmates. He started watching “Survivor” in the spring of 2020 during the pandemic lockdown.

“I had been watching it for a couple months, and I was like, ‘Oh, this is totally something I could do with my friends,'” he said.

That summer, Guyette’s brother held a “survivor”-inspired contest for Guyette and 19 of his friends. Although Guyette did not win, he said it was such a success that he and his friends played again the following summer. This time he won. After his victory, he decided to bring the fun of a “Survivor” style competition to his friends at Notre Dame this year. They rented an Airbnb during fall vacation where they played for a season.

After playing three seasons with friends, Guyette said he wanted to organize a season with “random people” and started promoting ND Survivor on Instagram at the start of the semester.

“We put up posters on campus, and because of that, we had about 130 people fill out the interest form,” he said. “I emailed all of these people and asked them to submit a full application, and 42 people ended up doing so. I guess it all spread by word of mouth. I chose 24 people, 21 of whom I had never met before.

Guyette said contestants were evaluated for their enthusiasm and uniqueness. Some of the contestants he selected are big fans of “Survivor” while others have never seen the show.

“Some people are great athletes, some are extremely smart, some do theater and the arts,” he said. “Overall, they are as different as they come. We have first through fifth year students.

On Saturday afternoon, the 24 competitors were divided into six teams called tribes. The tribes participated in two challenges and participated in two tribal councils – meetings where the losing tribe must elect a member. For the first challenge, three members from each tribe were given a volleyball and each had the chance to knock down six cardboard boxes set up by another tribe. The last tribe to knock down all six boxes loses the challenge. The green tribe lost and participated in the tribal council while the other tribes waited in another room.

The second challenge consisted of three parts: running, doing math, and shooting a basketball. Two members had to run around the gym five times and each lap earned them a number. After the runners of one tribe collect all five numbers, two additional members multiply the numbers. If their answer was correct, the last member of the tribe had to shoot a three-pointer.

“The last team to do all three was the loser, and unfortunately it was the green tribe again,” said senior competitor Nicholas Trittipo. “They had a tribal council, and that was the end of day one of ND Survivor.”

Now that contestants are familiar with the structure of ND Survivor, future Saturdays will include three challenges and three tribal councils. Last Saturday, Guyette will hold a final tribal council where candidates who were previously rejected will vote for a winner from the last remaining candidates.

As host, Guyette said he was very excited to meet new people “in the context of ‘Survivor'” in the coming weeks.

“I meet 24 people who look super cool, but I… watch them stab their friends and complete challenges,” he said. “These things are so cool to me.”

He hopes to host a season of ND Survivor at least once a year until he graduates.

“I totally want to build the ND Survivor community,” he said. “I plan to make it a club and also have ‘Survivor’ watch parties.”

Tags: competition, Joyce Center, ND Survivor, reality tv, survivor

Martin E. Berry