Cultural HiJack: Survey HiJack

Project by Avery and Daly

Our survey was based around the concept of Fall formal being replaced by team building night for future years to promote a stronger community on campus, and to compliment the rebranding of Sarah Lawrence College. A follow up question gauged the likelihood of the students to respond to the change with acts of vandalism. The questions consisted of the following:

  1. Tell us how you feel about Fall Formal
  2. How do you feel about the decision for Fall Formal to be replaced with team building night next year?
  3. On a scale of one to ten (one being least and ten being most), how likely are you to commit acts of vandalism in response to this change?

Our process of settling to this theme was centered around creating a survey that was just believable enough for people to think it might actually become a thing. By making it believable, we would be able to garner a legitimate emotional reaction from people who took our survey. From there, we wanted to introduce questions that redirected the tone in a less believable way to get our survey-takers to see the joke.

When writing our survey, I felt like the questions were silly enough that our interviewees would be in on the joke. But in my experience, it felt like we weren’t silly enough, as people seemed to really believe the made-up things we were telling them, given our official orange vests. I felt that I needed to go off-script in order to push the ridiculousness even further. It wasn’t until I started asking about what kind of vandalism is considered the funniest and insinuating that there were direct ties between team-building and vandalism that people began to react to the absurdity of the survey.

These are some examples of the questions we added in on the spot:

  1. If you feel like you would commit vandalism, what kinds of vandalism would you do?
  2. If you wouldn’t vandalize, would you support others who wanted to vandalize?
  3. Do you know that team building has historically led to acts of vandalism?
  4. Do you think it’s funny when people draw dicks on the wall?
  5. How funny, on a scale of one to ten, is it when people draw dicks on the wall?
  6. What if it was really, really, good vandalism?
  7. What if team building night was extremely high budget?

These additional questions helped facilitate better conversations with the people who were taking our survey. Some people seemed really enthusiastic about team-building night, which made me feel kinda bad about misleading them! Those same people were really enthusiastic about vandalism as well, as they were members of student senate and seemed to have a lot of faith in our position as “student ambassadors”. However, most people seemed generally indifferent to the idea of team building night, saying they would rather go to a dance.

Overall, this felt like a successful hijack. While it evolved beyond what we initially prepared for, the change felt natural to the space we were in.