Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Swarthmore is world renowned for its high levels of stress among the student body. However, along with papers, midterms and social pressures, there is a new cause for dread on the venerable grounds of Swarthmore. The student body has been besieged by assassins.
These assassins are not armed with sniper rifles, revolvers or even scimitars. The reality is even worse: the assassins are armed with their own two hands and want nothing more than to grab your butt, your hiney, your moneymaker, your bootay, your ass. Yes, the game is afoot, and dorm-wide ASSassins (or assASSins, depending on who you ask) games have started.
The rules of the game are simple. There can be any number of players, with an every man or woman for him or herself format. At the start of the game, each player receives the name of their target for assassination. In order to assassinate somebody, you must get a firm, two handed grasp of his or her butt. The grab must be firm and two handed; there are no slaps allowed.
Stealth and discretion are the keys to this game; one must always remember that somebody is always after your ass as well. There are only precious few safe spots or scenarios in which one is immune to assassination. A person cannot be assassinated in his or her own room (some games limit the safe area only to one’s own bed). However, other peoples’ rooms are fair game. One cannot be assassinated while holding a tray in Sharples, because the only thing more embarrassing than dropping a tray is losing at assassins at the same time. In addition, people are safe if they are nude or wearing only a towel.
Once a person makes his kill, his or her next target is the target of the person that he or she just assassinated. Thus, in theory, the game eventually comes down to only two people. Hilarity ensues. Despite the fact that one is fair game almost everywhere, hiding in one’s room will only bring pain. If one fails to kill their target within a certain time frame, usually three days, the invincible Death Squad comes to take him or her out of the game. The Death Squad can be ruthless, as no safe space applies to them.
All of this chaos is regulated by the mysterious Assmaster. “Oh, the power,” says Bree Bang-Jensen ’07, Assmaster for the Mertz/New Dorm game. So far Swarthmore has seen the now-completed Willets game and the ongoing Mertz/New Dorm game, with a Wharton game in the works. While diehards still hold out hope for a game in Parrish, it remains simply fantasy at this point.
“I saw my target, in Sharples. Without a tray. I had my hands out, and I suddenly realized, I just couldn’t bring myself to grab another guy’s ass.” The dilemma of Alan Walsh ’07 is not uncommon. However, with many participants, once the game starts anything goes. One student, taking advantage of the rule preventing assassination while nude, shed his clothing in Kohlberg one Saturday night to prevent his doom.
Full knowledge of the rules is only one of the keys to victory. Stealth, strategy and alliances are also key. However, many people are not so fortunate. Sarah Ifft ’09 started the facebook group entitled “I Lost Assassins Before Lunch On The First Day.” “I’m a little bitter that I didn’t get to participate in all of the fun,” says Ifft, “but on the other hand it’s really fun to watch all of the paranoia and watch people press themselves up against walls.”
On the first day, when many people make rash and foolhardy decisions based on their excitement for the new game, many are eliminated. However, after the first 24 hours, the game can go on for days. This reporter survived past lunch on the first day and eliminated his first target, before being assassinated in the evening.
One assassin was going after his target. That assassin happened to be this reporter’s target, and I followed him in hot pursuit. Just as I had him cornered and was moving in for the kill, I felt the telltale speer on the cheeks that could only mean ‘game over.’ So, take it from me, if you are going out unprotected into the Swarthmore campus, make sure that you cover your back in every sense of the word.