Cal Poly's Survivor Guide logo. Credit: File

“The tribe has spoken.”

Usually, this phrase is followed by a torch being snuffed out as a member of the hit television show, “Survivor,” leaves their tribe and season. However, now business sophomore Josh Lavin commonly uses that phrase, who also serves as Cal Poly’s Survivor club’s co-president, co-founder and host. 

Lavin and civil engineering junior Jeremy La Porte created the Cal Poly Survivor Club in spring 2022.

Lavin has always been a fan of the TV show. He grew up watching the show and appreciated the strategy needed to win. For La Porte, he started watching the show during the pandemic and started playing and hosting online survivor games.

During Lavin’s first year at Cal Poly, he wondered if Cal Poly had its own survivor club, knowing that other colleges have their own. So, he created a Reddit page asking if there was a club on campus. La Porte saw this post and the two met up and decided to start one themselves.  

The Survivor Club released the first episode of season one on Tuesday, April 10. Weekly Season one episodes will be published on the club’s YouTube channel with an estimated 9-10 episodes.

The first season of the survivor club began in spring 2022. It consisted of 14 players split into tribes, competing in different challenges throughout the quarter. 

The club is are currently filming Season 3. They film a season every fall and spring quarter. Seasons will be released based on when editing is finished, and each season goes on for a quarter.

According to the club’s Survivor Guide, to play, each tribe works together to compete for immunity, meaning that they do not have to go to tribal council and vote a member off of their team. 

However, if their tribe does go to tribal council, players can utilize hidden immunity idols around Cal Poly’s campus and use them to save themselves or another member. 

At a certain point in the game, the tribes will be merged and compete for individual immunity. Members that are voted off at this point will join the jury, which has the power to vote for the final winner of the entire season. The goal is to be the last survivor standing, for which the winner is awarded. 

Throughout filming, students that are participating are also required to film confessionals, detailing their strategy, thoughts on the game and strategic conversations. 

According to the club’s “How does Cal Poly Survivor work?” document, students are encouraged to text, call, meet up and find their own means to socialize and create alliances.

The club hosts two meetings per week to run challenges and tribal councils on Mondays and Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

La Porte said the club likes to “add a Mustang spin” to the game by relating idols, tribes and gameplay to Cal Poly and SLO. 

Lavin said the challenges in this club are inspired by the TV show but have their own twists to make them applicable to the club. The challenges were often multilayered and pushed students physically, mentally and socially. Many of these challenges are also available online to make them more accessible for students’ work schedules. 

“I think they did a great job using the limited resources they had,” statistics sophomore and season one participant Dylan Le said.

In the first season of the club, the immunity idols were originally created by Lavin’s sister. Now, the immunity idols, as well as the clues, are created by students Benjamin Sanchez, Brooke Gary and Dena Gabriel. 

These idols are also considered hidden “idols” or advantages that are placed somewhere on campus. Everyone is given clues and the person who finds it may play it at tribal council before all of the votes are read. Any votes for a person who has played an immunity idol will not count and they will be safe for that day.

To become a player of a season, students must sign up and undergo a casual interview process.

Co-presidents Lavin and La Porte said they just want to see passionate students that want to put in the work and take the time to be a part of the club. They also said they welcome students with diverse majors, backgrounds and expertise in the show to come and play. 

Throughout the seasons, students have the opportunity to become part of a close-knit community. After playing together Lavin said he noticed that people began to become closer by hanging out together so much.

“Even when we aren’t hosting or planning a season, the club is active in Survivor watch parties, mini-games and general hangouts,” La Porte wrote in an email. 

The club continues to encourage a close-knit community by welcoming students back after they are done playing a season. Although, these students are only allowed to come back as part of the production team and for other behind-the-scenes work. 

The club is planning on eventually hosting an all-star season in which those who have played in the past are welcome to come back and play again. 

Le is just one member who has been a player during one season but has come back to help with production. 

“For the first season, you’re in the game and you know how it is, but then it is really fun being on the opposite side knowing everything that’s going on,” said Le. 

For students that plan on joining, La Porte said in an email that “You don’t need to be a super fan, just someone who will be dedicated, willing to share your survivor experience with us while your playing, and looking to meet a whole bunch of great people.”

Students interested in being a part of the club but prefer not to play can sign up to be on the club’s production team. For students interested in joining for Season 4 to be filmed in fall 2024, they can follow the club’s Instagram and message them or fill out an application on their Linktree that will be released next school year and test to see if they can outwit, outplay and outlast the others. 

“Go for it. This is a really great experience … it was definitely one of my highlights of my time here at Cal Poly so far,” Le said.