Scav Hunt gets ready, aims, fires

By Juliana Wu

It’s that time of year again, when students are not surprised to see grass growing greener, flowers blooming, and giant wieners running around the quads.

The 18th annual University Scav Hunt began when judges released the list of 282 items to the nine estimated participating teams at midnight on Thursday. Devoted team members have since sacrificed class time and sleep to brainstorm, arrange props and costumes, and rush to complete as many tasks as possible before the judges tally up the points Sunday night.

Some of the list items include a permanent tattoo that reads “sorry about the syphilis but can we still be cousins?” a legal name change to the maximum length, a graduate thesis written on napkins from a dining hall, signed off on by a thesis committee, and a team member’s umbilical cord, to be eaten by that team member. Additionally, a number of items require a road trip to the East Coast through the states of New York, New Jersey, and Delaware.

On Thursday, team members spent the morning and early afternoon handing out free hot dogs on the quads. The two-day task requires teams to erect hot dog stands between Cobb and Reynolds Club, distribute all hot dogs provided to them, and advertise with a “SubservientWeiner” mascot. As a bonus, teams can distribute their own version of the Chicago-style and University of Chicago-style hot dog. Located outside of Cobb Hall on Thursday, the Snell-Hitchcock team, “Hitchcapocalyptic Death Snell,” put a nice twist on the U of C-style hot dog by including relish and a side of Marx.

Aside from the giant hot dog mascots, students dressed as cupids and as people running through the Seminary Co-op bookstore wearing only backpacks and shoulder bags could not be missed. First-year page captain, D Shope was one of the three members from the Max Palevsky team, “Phoenix, Bitch,” who ran naked through the bookstore and said it was one of the craziest tasks that the team has so far completed. When asked why she thought her team would win this year she said, “[It’s] participation—everyone is totally enthusiastic and we’re really well organized.”

First-year member of the Pierce Tuck Pointers, Stephanie Rivera replied to the same question, “It’s not really about winning. It’s just about the items.”

Scav Hunt began in 1987 as a collaborative effort between four undergraduate friends. The list was handed out in the Reynolds Club at noon on Friday as a response to the belief on campus that students were apathetic and uninvolved in campus activities. “We wanted to appeal to the average geeky side of the U of C student and I think we were able to bring out the wacky side of the students in the ’80s” said Rick Jeffries, AB ’90 and co-founder of Scav Hunt.

While the list has evolved to include more humorous and challenging performance tasks, the spirit and the general execution of Scav Hunt have not changed. The event has always taken place the weekend of Mother’s Day and the four judges, all of whom are students, have always been the craftsmen of the list.

Jeffries, who was one of the first judges, recalled over a phone interview: “I remember having an unhealthy obsession with nudity. I was in charge of getting college students naked.” As a result, one of the tasks on the 1987 list was to dress only in balloons and string. Other items from the first Scav Hunt list included Mike Royko, a Chicago Tribune columnist who, according to Jeffries, “hated U of C students because he thought that we were self-important;” Bruce Willis, and a buoy from the Chicago Harbor.

Now a partner in a law firm located in Omaha, Nebraska, Jeffries is happy to see his unique invention become an active and essential tradition at the U of C, “I’m pleased that there is still a major community event in which the college gets together for one day of craziness in the spring,” he said.