The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday January 15th

Toy guns in Humans versus Zombies game cause scare at N.C. State

Students hoping to fend off zombies at N.C. State University could have to alter their weaponry in the future.

A toy gun used in a campus-wide game of humans versus zombies sparked controversy on the university’s campus, after two cases of a potential gunman sighting were reported Wednesday to NCSU’s campus police.

The suspicious individual was later self-identified as a player in a campuswide Humans versus Zombies game, said Charlie Brooks, NCSU student and moderator of the game.

The student, portraying a human in the game, had been seen hiding his Nerf gun in his jacket, in a strategic game move, before entering a building, he said.

Due to the hidden placement of the gun, onlookers could not clearly recognize the gun as a toy.
The scare sparked talks about university policy regarding communication between campus police and students.

Brooks said this is the first year the game is entirely student-led, but the campus police department knew about the game two to three weeks beforehand.

“There were bound to be hiccups like this,” he said. “But when the alert came out, we took responsibility and it was our decision to immediately put the game on hold.”

The game’s organizers plan to meet with members from the division of student affairs and campus police to create new rules for the game, Brooks said.

“We hope to iron out the wrinkles,” he said. “We’re bent over backwards to accommodate everyone.”

Some of the newly redefined rules will include marking the toy guns, or “blasters,” with green tape.

Students will also be asked to hold the toy gun in a non-threatening manner and make its presence obvious, he said.

NCSU spokesperson Mick Kulikowski said one of the new proposed policies is having an inspection of the toy weapons and ensuring they are recognizable as toys.

He said there needs to be better communication between university officials and students to maximize safety and minimize confusion.

“The folks running the game need to work with campus police to let them know better what is going on,” he said.

In order to prevent similar confusion on UNC-CH’s campus, Randy Young, spokesman for UNC Department of Public Safety, said social networking is vital in these situations.

“With social media, fears escalate quickly,” he said. “But it is also possible to respond and douse the flames of rumors if something does arise.”

Young said the University’s campus police uses Facebook and Twitter to communicate alerts to students and to stay involved with student affairs.

“It behooves us to be a part of a social network,” he said. “We can use social media to keep people informed, but also put down gossip.”

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