So, I was having trouble for a ridiculous amount of time, and for no reason.
I was right the entire time.
What happened to me was I accidentally deleted a p element between the two separate PHP groupings. So, my code for:
$name = "yourname";
print substr($name, rand(min,max), 1);
was coming out in the browser right next to each other, making codecademy claim that I wasn't outputting a single character, when I was.
You might want to hit "reset code" and try one more time.
Just in case anyone is as dumb as me lol.