Humans v. Zombies: Good or bad?

ProBy Beckah Manikowski '16 Guest Contributor

As much as I love my fellow Scripps students, we often undervalue our relations with the other Claremont Colleges. Perhaps the most perceptible effect of these friendships is their translation into real world connections. The Claremont network is an invaluable network for graduates entering their chosen field. As a film major, I know that the link this network provides may at times be the only thing that sets me apart from other equally qualified young persons seeking the same entry level job.

A less recognizable and underemphasized benefit of these friendships is the immediate impact on our 5C campus. Friendly interactions between campuses are underemphasized as one of the keys to a happier, safer, and thus more productive campus. We share resources and meals and yet at times seem incapable of perceiving each other apart from the projected masks of stereotypes. We live literally across the street from each other and are more apt to act like rivals than siblings. This is a shame, because we are clearly a stronger force for change when united. Recent 5C discussions on sexual assault have shown how much more effective we are when combining resources and minds. This cohesion and discussion helps us create a campus environment we can be proud of. We are capable of creating a space where everyone feels safe and respected.

I firmly believe these positive effects of a cohesive community are reachable through the activity known as Humans versus Zombies, also known as HvZ. HvZ allows for a positive campus crossover like no other 5C event or organization. Primarily, this is because HvZ has a decent representation from each school. As much as we like to think that we are able to branch out to other schools, we are actually relatively contained in our spheres of activity. For example, although I was involved in multiple 5C organizations, classes, and events, I almost never had the opportunity to interact with Mudd students. All of these supposed “5C” events and organizations only furthered my interest in making solid Scripps contacts.

Perhaps this is solely my experience, but it seems particularly difficult at times to make lasting connections with individuals from alternate schools. HvZ is an incredible solution to this dilemma. It was the only organization I was involved with last year in which there was not only joint participation from all five colleges but also direct interaction between students of all five colleges.

Although school representation is important, it is the environment of these relationships that truly makes HvZ worthwhile. The associations formed during night missions, day missions, and the general camaraderie of passing players are established in a manner that is arguably healthier than our typical interactions.  These connections are usually made without the barrier of school association. Nobody cares which school you go to as long as you’re paying attention and looking out for the team. This leads to my next point. These associations are being made in an environment specifically conducive to revealing and encouraging different teamwork and communication strategies. Because of the communication exchanges, the connections made are more likely to skip past the artificiality of the typical primary interactions and move into a territory more suitable for lasting friendships. Oh, and survival, of course.

Con By Megan Petersen '15 Co-Editor-in-Chief

Humans v. Zombies is often thought to be harmless and playful: Nerf guns, socks, camaraderie. Good, clean fun.

But it isn’t. I wanted to put it lightly, but it flat-out isn’t. It’s toxic, it’s hypocritical, and it’s one of many blatant and insensitive expressions of privilege that haunt the 5Cs.

Humans v. Zombies (HvZ) is toxic and counterproductive because it fails to address the huge problem of gun violence in America. It has been argued many times that, in order to curb the gun violence that we see in our society — from high-profile mass shootings to everyday violence — we need to bring about systematic, social change, not just new legislation. People have been expressing concern about violent video games and movies for a while now. I’m not about to go on that tirade, though, or talk here about what people do in their private homes. What I will say about HvZ, though, is that it conveniently allows us, collectively, to neglect that struggle. HvZ week forces us to pretend that gun violence isn’t problematic or scary or triggering. It forces us to pretend that guns are toys or that shooting at people is okay in some situations, that some people aren’t REALLY people. And, in my opinion, anything that isn’t part of a solution to the problem of society-wide gun violence is part of the problem.

To make matters worse, this willful ignorance is very uncharacteristic for the majority of Claremont students. I know many students who participate in HvZ who, based on their general political views, would probably support tougher gun laws or other actions to help bring down the number of people affected by this problem. I’m disturbed by the number of people at Scripps who identify as feminists, even as intersectional feminists, and participate in HvZ regardless of the number of women and minorities who are victims and survivors of gun violence in America and around the world.

I’m most frustrated, though, that HvZ completely ignores the realities of anybody who’s ever been affected by gun violence. Unlike games like paintballing or laser tag which, in theory, happen among consensual individuals in a designated, private space, HvZ invades public spaces on campus every semester, forcing even those who find it triggering or hurtful to watch it happen. After my home community was rocked by uncharacteristic, tragic gun violence last winter, seeing and hearing about the spring installment of HvZ made me sick to my stomach. I can’t imagine what HvZ might trigger for students, staff, and professors who hail from communities where shootings are a daily reality. Thousands of people die every year in this country from gun violence—Chicago alone sees hundreds.

I recognize that many Claremont students are not from areas that have been affected by systematic violence, that many of us have the convenience of being able to pick up certain struggles when it’s convenient rather than living them ourselves, that many of us have always been and always will be on the “winning” side of a game of Cops and Robbers or Cowboys and Indians.

But just because you can do something and not find it problematic or triggering doesn’t mean you should.