Doom descends on Sewanee: student-made survey apocalypse

Sewanee: The University of the South. Courtesy of

By Luke Williamson
Executive Staff

SEWANEE, TN – It’s early April here at Sewanee and an idyllic luster seems to adorn every corner of the Mountain. Plants are budding, bees are buzzing, and cold temperatures are (finally) fleeing. Perhaps most lovely of all are the blood-curdling screams of students which grace the campus every morning as they wake to email inboxes full of PSYCH student-made surveys. Many of these surveys incentivize participation by advertising possible prizes such as Stirling’s Gift Cards, with winners being selected from the pool of participants.

The flood of surveys has taken a toll on the students at Sewanee. Torn between their own sanity and supporting the research of their peers, many students have suffered sleepless nights ruminating over their deletion of the barrage of emails and their feigned ignorance of friends’ surveys.

A panel was held regarding the ramifications of the survey calamity, during which individuals cited both the overwhelming amount of emails and the underwhelming incentives as the main causes for their disinterest in survey participation. Emboldened by anonymity during the panel, one student even called the incentives “shit.”

One shrewd junior, Cathy Walkson (C’19), has made what she calls “serious bank” from all of these surveys. As the only respondent to nearly every one of the incomprehensible mass of surveys, Walkson has won almost 200 Domain Dollars by default.

Students have responded to the survey catastrophe in a number of ways, ranging from clever email-setting alterations to vocal criticism. One freshman, Mitchell Grant (C’21), devised a way to preemptively avoid the wave of survey emails every morning.

“Yeah, I just went into my email settings and found a way to flag emails containing the word ‘survey’ as spam,” explained Grant. “It’s worked super well for me–I’ve been sleeping like a baby every night. No guilt, no emails, no sleepless nights.”

Another student, Cindy Valencia (C’18), criticized the students who put together the surveys.

“Well, I heard that many of these PSYCH surveys are group assignments, and frankly, I’m insulted that $10 rewards are the best that a group of students can cobble together. Especially for the groups with rich kids–if you are 20 and drive a Porsche, fork over more than $2.”

One bemused Sewanee Purple interviewee noted the comicality of the incentive.

“Is $10 even enough to buy a drink and a salad at Stirling’s? A grape? I’m honestly not sure.”