News | Student Life

CU Assassins kicks off, now open to Barnard students

On Saturday at 11:42 p.m., a team called Brocahantus shot its target.

In their kill report, one of the team members wrote, “Upon opening the door we saw his sleeping body across the room, nestled beneath his covers. I crept stealthily through his room to his bed, where he lay in a protective sleeping position.

“I momentarily paused when seeing the peaceful, unsuspecting look on his face,” the testimony confessed. “But alas, all good dreams must come to an end; he was shot dead in his own bed.”

Brocahantus is one of 39 teams competing in the annual CU Assassins game. Battling for $700 in prize money, participants form teams of four, are armed with water pistols, and are assigned another team as targets. When they have killed all the members of that team, they are then assigned to the targets of the now-dead team.

The game lasts four weeks, during which time assassins must develop increasingly stealthy tactics to avoid the squirt of water to the back that signifies a death and, thus, a loss in the game.

Organized every year by the Engineering Student Council as part of Engineering Week, CU Assassins started at midnight on Saturday.

For the first time this year, the game is open to Barnard students. Siddhant Bhatt, SEAS ’14 and ESC Vice President of Finance said that ESC opened the game to Barnard students because the council wanted to generate more attention and expand the number of teams playing.

“We didn’t have Barnard students participate because CC and SEAS students have to be signed in to their dorms and vice-versa,” Bhatt said, “but we basically thought, whatever, if it’s tougher it’s tougher. Big deal.” He estimates that about 50 percent of participants in CU Assassins are SEAS students, 40 percent CC students, and 10 percent Barnard students.

Tim Qin, SEAS ’13 and ESC president, said that first-year students are particularly excited about this year’s game.

“Freshmen tend to be more excited about this,” said Qin of the game’s demographic. “There are some veterans who keep coming back. It’s a fun game. It’s better the more people that take part.”

Bystanders can monitor the scoreboard on the Assassins website, where they can chart the progress of each team. Current winners include “Platypusses” and “Not Available.” Clicking on a kill will show the time, a picture of the “killer” and “corpse,” and a description of the murder.

This year, the game has been taken largely online, with registration via Google Docs and the scoreboard updated online with Facebook integration.

“If you had a kill in the past, you would have to submit a report and have it approved,” Qin said.

This year, however, all reports are automatic and disputes are solved via email.

Robert Ying, SEAS ’16 and ESC’s director of technology, worked on making the website more accessible to participants to ensure that the game doesn’t drag on, as it has in the past.

“Last year the game slowed down to a ridiculously slow rate and didn’t really finish. It wasn’t really tenable,” Ying said. With Facebook integration, he said, there will be more information available to a potential killer via the Assassins website. “You should get their picture, you should get their name, you should have some way of identifying them,” he said. “That way the game will go faster.”

Also, he said, “The new website automates almost all of registration and makes it so that each individual person handles their own profile.”

Some legendary assassinations have become Columbia lore. “I’ve heard of someone following someone to Disney World a couple years ago,” said Ying. “But I can’t verify that.”

A WikiCU entry alleges that in 2004, the game stretched for six weeks, with the final kill of the game taking place in Baltimore over spring break. Also in 2004, another assassin allegedly traveled by car all the way to New Orleans to track down a target.

Qin said, “I heard one time there was a kill in Las Vegas. Someone just happened to be in Las Vegas with the other person. But these are more like urban legends.”

For this year’s assassins, Qin had these words of advice: “Be very cognizant now that the game has started. Basically, you will be paranoid and that will help you. People take this seriously. They’re in it to win it. It’s going to be a fun game.”

hallie.nell.swanson@columbiaspectator.com | @ColumbiaSpec

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