Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

‘Survivor UT’ emulates hit reality TV show, puts students’ capabilities to the test

Abby Greenlee
The Survivor Club players clutch their lit torches in the darkness beneath the UT tower on Sept. 24, 2023. They undergo individual interviews and cast their crucial votes to eliminate a fellow player while vigilantly guarding their torches from extinguishing.

“Survivor UT” provides an engaging outlet for students to connect on campus with peers to challenge their physical abilities, strategic thinking and social skills. Currently airing episodes from their first season while simultaneously filming the second, “Survivor UT” translates nearly every aspect of CBS’ hit reality show — from participating in demanding challenges to forming alliances and developing tactical game plans — except contestants are competing on the Forty Acres, not an island. 

Computer science junior Cooper Wilk formed “Survivor UT” with just three crew members, following in the footsteps of other college survivor chapters such as Survivor Maryland and Survivor Stanford. Now with a crew of 20, staff members assist in directing, producing, shooting and editing episodes, along with developing challenges. 

Petroleum engineering senior David Proctor participated as a cast member for season one and now serves as a producer for season two. 

“I enjoyed (playing) a lot,” Proctor said. “It was my favorite thing I did last semester.”

Each season, “Survivor UT” divides 12 players into two tribes that compete in weekly challenges throughout the semester. The losing group must vote off one of their teammates. Approximately halfway through the season, gameplay shifts from a team mentality to an individual game as the tribes merge. This increases the difficulty as contestants continue pursuing the title “sole survivor” and the accompanying cash prize.

Computer science junior Joyce Qin, who serves as head of art and props, said that “Survivor UT” provides a creative outlet that allows participants, cast and crew to pursue passions and meet people outside of their major.

“Whether you’re on cast or crew, it’s just a lot of fun,” Qin said. “(As a part of the) cast, you meet a bunch of people, competing (in) challenges. You talk and make friends that way. From the crew side, I find it really entertaining to watch everything unfold.”

“Survivor UT” believes casting people from a wide range of majors, genders, sexual orientations and levels of experience with the reality show plays an essential role in game development.

“It really doesn’t matter what your knowledge is or what your confidence level going into the game is,” Proctor said. “As long as you’re gonna go out there and have fun, it’ll be entertaining to watch.”

For those looking to join the cast or crew, an interest form for “Survivor UT” remains open on their Instagram, @survivorut. Wilk said formal casting for season three starts at the beginning of next semester, though the organization encourages prospective individuals to reach out anytime.

“The biggest thing (we look for) is excitement and enthusiasm because that’s how we know that they’ll … bring more to the season,” Wilk said. “You’ll play harder … if you’re excited about it. We want big characters.”

Wilk said “Survivor UT” strives to continue growing and increasing awareness on campus, as the growth of the cast, crew and viewers results in an increase in production value and resource opportunities.

“People are only here because they’re passionate,” Wilk said. “It’s extremely worth it. These are memories that I will have the rest of my life and hopefully that everybody that plays will have for the rest of their life.”


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