The Phelps room was filled with 250 students chatting and waiting for the revealing of the $1,000 xPRIZE challenges on Monday, Sept. 15. The newly formed Student Alumni Board and xPRIZE were launched that night, and SAB offered students free ice cream, popcorn, lemonade and water to celebrate its first event.
“xPRIZE is an event run by Student Alumni Board. xPRIZE challenges Wheaton students to think outside the box in order to accomplish a task that seems impossible. We encourage students to assemble a team, contact alumni and generally push the creative boundaries that typically limit Wheaton college students,” sophomore Wesley Braden said. Senior Grant Duncan, xPRIZE chair, invited Braden to help brainstorm and market xPRIZE.
On Monday night SAB announced the three $1,000 challenges. Braden said he hoped that this event would “draw the student body together, connect students to alumni and help propel students forward to accomplish hard yet brilliant things while they are still in college.”
Braden explained that the event took place at 10 pm so that students with night engagements such as intramurals or classes could still attend. Duncan added, “And let’s be real: Fun stuff happens at night!”
To begin the event, the president of SAB, Senior Andrew Shadid, explained that the goal of SAB is to bring together the Wheaton student body and its alumni. He said the vision for SAB began one year ago, and he mentioned some events that are being actualized this year, such as another Shark Tank.
’78 Kurt Tillman, Alumni Board president, spoke next, saying that the alumni would love to engage with students. He added that the 44,000 alumni and the current student body need each other.
In order to bring together alumni and the student body and to show that what people may think is impossible is actually doable, SAB created the $1,000 xPRIZE.
To win, a team of students must be the first to complete one of three challenges, engaging with alumni to accomplish the task. $500 is granted for finishing first, $250 is given for working on a team and another $250 is added for working with alumni to complete the challenge. In order for SAB to give away the $1,000 xPRIZE, the challenge must be completed by December 31.
After a countdown at the xPRIZE event, Shadid announced the first challenge: hosting a food truck festival on campus. The festival must have at least four food trucks and 50 attendees, and it must be on a Sunday night.
The second challenge is to take a photo with 500 people from the team’s class. To increase the challenge, class is identified by credit hours and only five identifiable people can be in any given picture.
Finally, the third challenge is to have three students talk to the Pope, President Obama, Sheryl Sandberg or Beyoncé. They must communicate verbally, and the team must provide proof of this intentional communication.
As soon as Shadid finished announcing the three challenges, students rushed out to form teams and start planning. One student began asking what kind of food trucks people would like and whether a food truck festival had been hosted at Wheaton previously. Other non-participants expressed surprise at the difficulty of the challenges.
“I think that (the challenges) are a bit out of the box for students, especially Wheaton students, and very time consuming, especially for Wheaton students. It just seems like a very hard thing to accomplish for anybody, especially Wheaton students,” sophomore MaLaysia Mitchell said.
However, Mitchell was not opposed to the xPRIZE challenges. “I would participate in all of the challenges,” she said. “I would attend all the truck festivals and talk to Beyoncé or the Pope… or Obama, for that matter. I would love to participate in all of the challenges but not be the one leading them. I would just help other people with the challenges. If someone asked me, I would be on a team,” she said.