Zombies Roam Campus


By Daylina Miller

TAMPA, Fla. (March 5, 2010) -- “WHAT DO WE WANT?”




Zombies with one thing on their minds chanted their way back to the covered pavilion for a last round of root beers before heading home to finish term papers and study for exams. The air had been chilly all day, but students braved the temperature to meet at Fowler Fields for the battle royale - the final showdown between humans and zombies.

“You know those kind of games that reveal that dark, sniveling, technicality-calling, rule bending, evil side of you that your friends didn’t know you had?” said USF student Luan Pham. “I think HvZ just hit my top three.”

This semester, USF enjoyed its first game of Humans vs. Zombies, or more popularly referred to, HvZ. Taking part in a campus craze which has been sweeping the nations, USF students played the parts of the undead and their prey over four days.

The event is a campus-wide game of tag in which one to three people are deemed “original zombies” and must infect the student population through touch tag. Players must be registered on the HvZ web site to participate and identify themselves either as humans, by placing a bandana around their arm, or as a zombie, by placing it on their head.

The only defense a human has is to throw balled-up socks, which stuns a zombie for 15 minutes, or in select areas and times, Nerf guns and Nerf swords. When a human is infected, he must give up an identification number assigned at registration to the zombie, who then registers it as a kill on the official website. Zombies must feed every 48 hours or they starve to death.

Odd as it sounds – nearly 500 USF students participated in the game last week as the phenomenon has swept college campuses this term. The game even garnered a mention on “The Colbert Report.”

“It’s all good, clean fun until there’s a real zombie attack,” lampooned host Stephen Colbert in a recent broadcast. “Haven’t these kids heard the story of the boy who cried zombie? Of course not because the boy’s whole village was devoured by zombies and no one was left to tell the tale. We must stop these college jerks from trivializing the threat of the undead.”

HvZ was invented in 2005 by Brad Sappington and Chris Weed at Goucher College in Baltimore. The game spread virally across the internet as Goucher students posted Flickr photos and YouTube Videos. Today, HvZ is played at more than 200 colleges and universities across the country, as well as high schools, military bases, summer camps, and public libraries.

Inspired by a recent HvZ game at Florida State University, USF student Mia Schuler decided to bring the game to her home campus. Aided by the student organization Christians in Action, several students participated in getting the event approved by USF administration and moderating the Facebook group “USF HvZ.”

Jeff Keely, a USF student and member of CIA, was the game’s chief moderator.

“I’ve been a student here at USF for a long time and I’ve noticed other universities have a great campus life and I think that’s happening here with this game,” Keely said. “Administration wants to start getting past the image of a commuter school and I think HvZ is a great way to get past that.”

Keely felt that midterm week was the perfect time to plan HvZ to help students alleviate the stress of their exams. In the future, HvZ will probably be planned during less important weeks. Dean of Students Kevin Banks supported the game being played on campus but wants students to remember that being students come first.

“Our main mission is to go to school here,” Banks said.

Aside from letting off some steam during exam week, students were able to make friends with people they might have not met except during a zombie attack.

“I know that because of it I made a number of friends on both sides very quickly; it's hard not to when you're walking to class, sneaking to an objective, or defending a base with the same people,” said USF student Patrick Paterson.

He emphasizes the importance of remembering that life is not a destination- it’s a journey.

“It's a lot of fun, and I think that's the most important thing,” Paterson said. “Especially when students are pushed to obsessively study and take up appropriate extra-curriculars and fill out paperwork to get into college, stay in college, and stay ahead of the curve.”

After four jarring days of humans fearfully looking around corners for the zombies that might be lurking in the shadows, the event ended with a root beer party at Fowler Fields. After, the final battle ensued in a 10-minute free-for-all in which the zombies where unleashed on the remaining humans, who were armed head to toe with Nerf ammo and socks.

No official winner was declared.

“With very few exceptions, everyone involved with the game agreed that it was a wonderful experience, many claiming it was the best week of the semester, if not their life,” Paterson said.

Indeed, the USF zombie plague of Spring 2010 will not soon be forgotten.

“I still remember the paralyzing paranoia of walking across campus alone, the sense of compassion for my fellow teammates as I sacrificed myself to secure their safety, and the calculated defeat of losing our last fortress and penultimate mission, but escaping as a human; and I loved every minute of it,” Paterson said. “It was enthralling. It made me feel like a part of something bigger, and I know that many fellow players feel the same way.”


The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of only 25 public research universities nationwide with very high research activity that is designated as community engaged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The university offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The USF System has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.