Let’s cut straight past all of the academic, politically-correct, IRB-approved bullshit and get to the point: in order to finish my dissertation, I need 300 people to take this survey. Over the past month, only eleven of you have come through for me, and now I’m really fucking desperate. So, if 300 of you undergraduate fuckheads take this survey by midnight tomorrow, I will broadcast myself cutting off the pinky finger of my left hand with a cigar cutter.

At this point, I don’t know what else to do. You turds apparently can’t be bothered to take a break from your oh-so-demanding lives of waking up at 11, Instagramming your dining hall food, attending some bullshit 200-level class, and bingeing Netflix to take my survey. I got your professors to offer extra credit, but that didn’t work. I showed up in each and every single one of your Freshman Comp classes and explained how this study could meaningfully affect the way you receive feedback on your writing assignments, but maybe everyone thinks the feedback they get is perfect. Or maybe you’re just apathetic assholes. My advisor suggested offering coffee or donuts to participants, but I’m a 4th year doc student with a too-expensive apartment, three cats, a dependence on Rex Goliath Merlot, and no funding from the university as of last semester, so I don’t exactly have tons of cash laying around to ply you millennial shit stains with breakfast treats.

Then, last weekend, while sitting on a folding chair in my under-furnished apartment, crying into a paper plate of 7-11 taquitos and watching Game of Thrones, pure fucking genius hit me: to get enough survey participants, I’d need to harness the sadistic, protagonist-decapitating, ally-poisoning, daughter-sacrificing allure of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy world.

So here’s the deal: I need 300 of you remedial mouthbreathers to not only take this survey but to provide me with quality data. If you can do that, you’ll have exclusive access to witness me slicing my little finger clean off. Yeah, there are 83 Likert-scale questions, and I want you to think deeply about all of them. If you go through and select “neutral” for everything, I’m throwing that shit out. And those seven open-ended qualitative questions at the end? I expect lengthy, candid responses. And if you lanyard-wearing adolescents don’t provide me with rich, statistically significant data, you can all kiss your chances of seeing some live-streamed digit-guillotining goodbye.

Before you bother responding to this email with the question I know you all want to ask, yes, I totally think it’s worth it to lose a pinky finger in order to finish my Ph.D. and get the hell off of this campus. For the past four years, I’ve spent the majority of my time entering other people’s data into spreadsheets, then double- and triple-checking thousands of cells to make sure I didn’t fuck something up. And I’ve done this in an office I share with five other demoralized grad students who spend most of each day either complaining or asking for advice on how best to format their CVs. Avoiding another semester of that alone is worth a losing finger whose biggest contribution is hitting the letter “a” on a keyboard.

Plus, if I delay my graduation, I have to listen to my parents question both my work ethic and the relevance of my field of study for another five months, which I just can’t do again.

And don’t worry about my personal safety. My friend Robert, a third-year med student, will be standing by to stanch the bleeding and explain my loud cursing to our neighbors.

It’s sad that I have to resort to such a barbaric incentive to recruit study participants on a college campus — a place that’s supposed to be a bastion of intellectual progress and cooperation. A place where like-minded scholars are supposed to band together to solve the problems of their fields. But I’m not going to proselytize about the waning esprit de corps of the academic landscape because I know you assholes don’t give a fuck.

Just get your surveys done by tomorrow night. My prospectus hearing is next week, and I want my hand to have time to heal before then.