Wily sophomores face off in class-wide Assassins

These days, it is common to see Yale sophomores glancing over their shoulders and ducking around corners. In each pocket, a nervous hand fingers the trigger of a loaded 3.5” “piece.” Loaded, that is, with water.

Though there are only 15 students still alive this late in the game, 268 sophomores joined up when a class-wide bout of Assassins, sponsored by the Sophomore Class Council, began on Feb. 13. Players are given the name of a target they are assigned to “kill” by shooting them with a blast of water; with each successful “kill,” the assassins receive the name of another target.

SCC President Ryan Russell ’09, who helped organized the event, described himself as “a little paranoid” when the game began. Now “killed” himself, the sophomore said he thinks the game has gone exceedingly well.

“Everyone enjoyed it,” he said. “It was something different.”

Assassins, which Russell said cost the SCC $100 to launch, is expected to finish before spring break, with prizes going to both the winner and the player with the most “kills.” Sophomores Brandon Fong ’09 and Jason Yang ’09 were responsible for much of the game’s logistics, and Fong said the hardest part of the project was matching assassins with victims.

Fong said he was impressed by the class’ level of involvement, given the low level of publicity leading up to the game.

“If we had a little more time to prepare, we could have gotten people in the spirit a little more,” Fong said. “We could have sent more cool e-mails to hype it up.”

SCC member and Assassins participant Anna Wood ’09 said the game moved from planning phase to execution so rapidly because of SCC members’ concerns about future funding for the organization. Wood explained that SCC wanted an event under its belt in order to better their chances of securing funding for other events later in the semester.

“We wanted to show that we were actually doing something.” Wood said.

Alexandra Welch ’09, another Assassins finalist, said many sophomores were not aware of the game. She said the lack of hype and publicity meant she didn’t even know her friends were participating until late in the game.

Yang, who won the Chinese American Students’ Association’s version of the game earlier in the year, said weather may have also toned down this game’s ferocity.

“I’ve heard crazy stories about people hiding out in bushes for an entire day,” he said. “That would’ve been impossible in the freezing cold.”

Still, Yang said, some sophomores went to great lengths to hide their daily movements from a would-be assassin, even modifying their Facebook.com profiles in an attempt to shake off pursuers.

“People are changing their Facebooks: deactivating them, putting up new Facebook.com pictures and putting up new schedules,” he said.

Finalist Matt Baer ’09 altered his online privacy settings, took down photos and deleted his course listings as part of his leave-no-trace strategy. But he noted that this strategy only worked up to a point.

“Facebook was a huge part of this,” he said. “[But] there are ways around it — suitemates post photos of suitemates. There was a lot of Facebook stalking going on.”

Like many other assassins, Baer was ultimately saved by coincidence. At the game’s end, he received a message from his unsuccessful assassin, describing the lengths to which she had gone to take him down. According to Baer, she attended his classes three times, once nearly missing a midterm to try and get her “kill.” Never managing to catch him before or after class, she then moved to more direct methods.

“She tried calling my suitemates to see if they would set me up,” Baer said. “It was a test of loyalty. They were loyal.”

Welch said she was also surprised by the game’s level of intensity, especially that of one particularly devious would-be assassin who nearly ended Welch’s run on Valentine’s Day.

As Welch recalls, a girl knocked on her door claiming to have brought a Valentine for the not-quite-unsuspecting Welch. Welch dashed into her bedroom as the door opened, narrowly averting disaster. A good sport, Welch praised the high level of subterfuge employed by her attacker.

“She actually brought chocolates,” she said.

Perhaps ironically, given the violent undertones of the game, the “killings” were intended to bring the sophomore class together. Russell said the mission of the SCC is to promote the unity that living on Old Campus naturally supplied to the class of 2009 last year.

Both Wood and Baer said the game helped them make new friends and reconnect with old ones.

“You were allowed to cross social boundaries that normally you wouldn’t be able to,” Wood said. “Running up to people and squirting them with a squirt gun really breaks the ice.”

SCC has several events planned for the rest of the year, including a Sophomore Advising Night, a Spring Semi-Formal dance and a Sophomore Beach Trip.

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