The University of Colorado's version of the national campus craze, Humans vs. Zombies, is happening in full force, but without a main prop of the game — Nerf guns.
“The use of simulated weapons on campus violates regent policy,” said Molly Bosley, a spokeswoman for the CU Police Department. “Given the climate of what has happened in this country lately, we are taking precautions by banning the use of these simulated weapons on campus.”
After the original moderator went “AWOL,” the game began with a shaky start and a day late, said organizer and CU freshman Sean Tadjeran.
The live-action game of “tag,” created in 2005 at a Maryland college, has developed popularity at colleges across the nation. It is run by a student moderator who selects a head zombie (denoted by a handkerchief worn on the head) who tags humans (sporting a handkerchief on the arm). The humans can freeze zombies for 15 minutes by pelting them with Nerf guns and balled-up socks.
But at CU, only socks are allowed.
CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard said protecting others who aren't playing the game is of primary concern.
“The university doesn't want to come across as a giant institutional killjoy,” said Hilliard. “But if a student has a Nerf gun in their pocket pants or coat, and only the handle is showing, a cop or a passerby wouldn't know what it is.”
If a student is caught with a simulated weapon, they could be arrested and charged with unlawful conduct and/or student conduct violations, Bosley said.
Tadjeran said the original moderator dropped the ball by failing to get official university approval, which would have included petitions to use Nerf guns.
The original Facebook page for the group that had more than 3,000 followers was deleted, causing confusion among players.
“The planning was supposed to have been going on for a few months, with the game planned for this week,” said Tadjeran. “Monday the game didn't seem to have started, so we really wanted to get this going.”
Tadjeran, along with sophomore Scott Serafin, picked up the pieces and got the game going on Tuesday.
“This one is a haphazard creation and there was a little bit of widespread confusion due to the original one falling through, but it's most definitely happening,” said sophomore player Noah Garrett. “There are zombies running all over campus right now.”
Garrett said there are signs in dorms discouraging students from using Nerf guns, but he has seen some students use them.
“Nerf guns are painted pretty obviously, so I don't see why there's a problem,” said Garrett.
But Bosley said many gun manufacturers have Teflon coatings on real weapons, so the concern is distinguishing the one from another.
Junior Trevor Doner said he wouldn't risk the chance of using a Nerf gun.
“It's not worth it,” said Doner. “I'm just going to shed my dignity and bring a balled-up sock to chemistry class.”
Tadjeran said the group plans to resurrect the game in the spring, but this time they'll follow the official rules, including getting university approval.
“If the students follow the right procedures and engage in a conversation with safety officials and CU officials, we'll see what happens come springtime,” said Hilliard.