SIU Students Compete to be Ultimate Saluki
By: Carly O'Keefe
CARBONDALE, Ill. - This weekend a few Southern Illinois University students faced off in a "Survivor" like challenge to earn the title of "Ultimate Saluki".
It's a definite break from the college campus lifestyle. They slept on the ground, ate off the land and endured dozens of challenges to see who would become the top Dawg.
The students learned a few lessons under the tutelage of "Survivor: Australia" contestant, Mike Scupin who was coaching the event.
Over three days of grueling challenges the group of students learned what it really means to "outwit, outplay, outlast".
"They're getting a pretty realistic picture of what survivor was really like," said Scupin.
The "Ultimate Saluki Challenge" started with 16 students on Friday. Throughout the weekend, students had to fend for themselves against Mother Nature and face a "tribal council" where every meeting meant someone would be voted out of the game. And they weren't allowed the comforts of dorm rooms or dining halls.
"If they eat, they eat off the floor, the ground the dirt, there's no silverware, no glasses, no plates, if they sleep, they sleep in the dirt, and if they get cold, they have to win firewood in a challenge," said Scupin. "The more difficult it is the more life-changing it is. When they walk away from this, we want them to say that was intense, not ‘oh, it was just another camping trip'."
Even those who don't earn the title of "Ultimate Saluki" say they've won something even more valuable.
"We're going to walk away from this with a bunch of friendships," said SIU junior Josh Sheehan.
"That's what we hope to do: build friendships and give them a new experience on campus that's very unusual and will stick with them the rest of their time at SIU," said event co-planner Sally Wright.