An all-enveloping, oppressive silence is broken only by the rhythmic beeping of an elevator door opening a few floors above. A rushed heartbeat is accompanied by that familiar sensation that somebody, somewhere, is watching. And then — a familiar tap on the shoulder is followed by the words no engineering club president wants to hear: “You have been kidnapped.”
Adrenaline rushes and presidential abductions are typical occurrences during Geer Week, the annual week-long competition between engineering students’ clubs taking place the second week after the holiday break. This year’s event ran from Jan. 12–18, with 11 teams participating.
The competition included events designed to test the participants’ design, planning, material acquisition, managerial and leadership skills — as well as their ingenuity, surveillance methods and hostage negotiation abilities. Competitors participated in challenges such as a tug of war, a toboggan race and even a round of an “Are You Smarter than a First Year” contest.
At the end of the week, points from the events were tallied and the the club with the highest amount was declared the champion.
Sarah Elder, a volunteer judge for Geer Week, explained that kidnapping club presidents is a common way to force other teams to give up points for ransom, adding that presidents could have been kidnapped nearly anywhere throughout the week.
“The only safe places are your club room, your classroom during a class and the competitions themselves,” she said. “They must then be ransomed by their team or they will lose valuable points, since they have to be at every competition,” she said.
Elder added that bribing was also commonplace throughout Geer Week — and was even completely within the rules of the competition. Teams who made mistakes or broke rules can bribe judges to view their performances more positively, she said, particularly in the Dance Troupes contest, which took place at The Ranch.
Last year, judges were bribed with a flight by a participant with a pilot’s license, Elder said. This year, judges received one year’s admission to the TELUS World of Science.
But the constant bribes and kidnappings haven’t gone without controversy. Alysha Hudson, president of the Materials Engineering Students Societies, said Geer Week has developed unfair competition between engineering departments.
She said her team spent about $100 on bribes at the Battle of the Bands competition, and it wasn’t enough.
“(Our) budget for the year is about $1,000, and we have spent a lot for a small club like ours. I was kidnapped three times this week for instance,” she said.
“I don’t like the kidnapping aspect because we can’t even go out and enjoy the events, because you are worried you’ll be kidnapped. I have taken the standpoint that since I don’t appreciate it, we shouldn’t do it (kidnapping).
“I can’t hang out with my friends in other departments because they’ll kidnap me; I feel Geer Week could improve if it developed cohesion among engineers as a whole group, instead of cohesion as departments.”
The top three winners of Geer Week included the Computer Engineering Club in third place, the Electrical Engineering club in second and the Engineering Physics Club in first.