S. L. FULLER
There’s no denying that Extreme Sports Club’s Humans vs. Zombies event sounds like an interesting idea.
The week-long game was set to happen on campus last week, but was canceled by the administration just a few days prior to the first day.
“We [administrative members] originally signed off on [Humans vs. Zombies] and it was because of our enthusiasm, I think, to support the group,” said Dr. David Herman, Vice President of Student Affairs. “But then … we began to rethink whether or not this was a good idea.”
James Fefes, president of Extreme Sports Club (also known as “Nerf Club”), says the event is like a “glorified game of tag.” Humans vs. Zombies involves two different teams. The zombie team tries to tag the humans and turn them into zombies. The human team must evade the zombies to survive. The humans are equipped, however, with Nerf guns to protect themselves.
Other college campuses have played this game on their campus before. The rules for the game, however, vary depending on what players agree on. The rules for the Fredonia Extreme Sports Club were made up by Fefes and other members. The idea was for the game to take place over the course of a week while class was in session using the campus as the battle grounds.
In order for a club to hold an event outdoors, the club needs to get permission from University Police, Campus Life and Student Affairs. Just a few days after all the dotted lines were signed and all permission was granted for Humans vs. Zombies, Herman went to a SUNY-wide conference where he asked other attendees what they thought of the game. It was there that Herman learned of the incident that happened in 2008 at Alfred University.
“The first notice came at 3:33 p.m. with a report that police were investigating the report of a Caucasian male possibly carrying a gun. At 4:04 p.m., it said police were searching campus buildings, and asked students, faculty and staff to remain inside where they were and not go outside until further notice,” reported the Standard Journal in 2008.
It turns out that the alleged gunman was just a student participating in a game of Humans vs. Zombies. A passerby mistook a Nerf gun for a real gun because the user had wrapped it in black electrical tape. This drastic misunderstanding is exactly the type of thing that Herman and the administration want to avoid.
Another factor contributing to the cancellation of the on-campus event was that it was to be held during one of the busiest weeks of the semester. Between open house, the dedication of the Science Center and homecoming weekend, there would have been too much traffic on campus for the administration to feel comfortable letting such a game happen.
“[Fefes] is so passionate and I do feel badly that this couldn’t come together for him,” said Chief of University Police Ann Burns. “[But] that kind of furtive action with something that appears to be a gun on a college campus — 20 years ago who knows what would have happened. I certainly know what would happen today. In today’s culture and today’s climate on campuses the sensitivity toward that kind of behavior is huge.”
Both Herman and Burns said they toyed with the idea of just postponing Humans vs. Zombies to another week but ultimately decided to take back the permission they had already granted the Extreme Sports Club.
“We’re such a busy campus with so many visitors. I just wouldn’t want an unfortunate misunderstanding that would lead to a lockdown or a bunch of police being sent to the campus,” said Herman. “I think anything that involves weapons, even if they’re toy guns, would cause us concern.”
Even though Humans vs. Zombies is barred from being held on campus, the event will most likely take place at the College Lodge as it has in the past. Herman has also offered to help pay for some of the costs. The club has the lodge reserved for the first weekend in November, but they weren’t planning on playing Humans vs. Zombies.
“Initially it was just a group retreat. It [will be] November, the weather is probably going to stink,” said Fefes. “[The game] is not super hard on someone but it is physically demanding — especially at the lodge because it’s all hills.
“This was our one shot [at having the event on campus] and we’re still trying to get it off the ground,” continued Fefes, still hopeful that Extreme Sports Club will someday be able to play Humans vs. Zombies the way they envisioned.
“I’m really invested in this club,” said Fefes. “These are my friends.”