Off-Third: Students skip class to skirt WSP TikTok interviewers

There’s a new epidemic plaguing New York City, and it involves tiny microphones.


Sheridan Smith

Washington Square Park in the fall of 2022. (Sheridan Smith for WSN)

Nikkala Kovacevic, Deputy Opinion Editor

Off-Third is WSN’s satire column.

As of last week, attendance is at an all-time low, and professors are unsure of what is keeping their students from class. After doing some investigating myself, I think I may have found the answer. 

I decided to start by investigating NYU’s dorms to see if students were simply holed up in their rooms. To my surprise, it appeared that students were exiting their dorms at a normal rate and making their way to Washington Square Park. As I followed students who were en route to the park, I was shocked at the scene that awaited me. Thousands of TikTokers armed with microphones and cameras stood at the ready, some blocking the park’s entrances and others hiding in bushes and behind trees — positioned in preparation for surprise attacks.

Some students fled instantly. Others decided to push through, hesitantly approaching the park, deliberately avoiding eye contact and putting on their AirPods (a rookie mistake). The interviewers instantly sprang into action.

“What song are you listening to right now?”

“How much do you pay for rent, and would it be okay if we broke into your apartment for a tour later?”

“Would you like to take this box of live worms, or would you rather double it and give it to the next person?”

Most students attempted to dodge the microphones, which led to cat-and-mouse chases around the perimeter of the park, typically ending with interviewers cornering students in the fountain and forcing them to do an OOTD. Other interviewers resorted to psychological warfare, holding up signs reading “If you don’t answer these questions, you’re not an ally” or “Come talk to me if you’re not a woman-hater.” 

“Every day I live in fear of a TikToker in the park forcing me to play Smash or Pass with human rights laws,” an NYU first-year said, quickly lifting their backpack to shield their face from lurking “creators.”

Some students have approached NYU’s administration about the issue, going as far as to argue that their physical safety has been put in jeopardy. 

“One interviewer threw their tiny microphone into my ear while I was going to class, just because I wouldn’t agree to get waxed in public for their video,” said an NYU junior, microphone cord still hanging from the side of their head. “I tried to talk to NYU about it but they said there was nothing they could do.”

It turns out that NYU’s hesitation to put a stop to the park’s influencer infestation is because the majority of the interviewers are actually NYU alumni.

“At this point in time, approximately 90% of the Violet Network is made up of TikTokers,” an NYU official told WSN. “It has become apparent that the highest earning job most students can acquire with an NYU degree is an influencer. We have determined that it is in our best interest to continue to facilitate a strong relationship with these individuals despite their alleged harassment of current students.”

The biggest problem for students attempting to avoid these encounters is just that — avoidance. The Washington-Square-Park-TikToker epidemic is representative of the natural life cycle of the NYU student — to arrive with big dreams of success, and end up chasing 18-year-olds into bushes for the slightest glimmer of viral fame.

There’s no escape. Soon, the interviewees will become the interviewers, and we will all find ourselves begging the question: “What song are you listening to?”

Off-Third is WSN’s satire column. Contact Nikkala Kovacevic at [email protected].