HvZ. Once a semester, these three simple letters transform a pristine college campus speckled with palm trees and flip-flops into a ghoulish battleground teeming with the living dead. The epidemic settles in, subduing any and all foolish enough to face its awesome power. Bandanas taut, chambers loaded and comrades gathered, we wade cautiously into the trenches. This is war.
As the apocalypse dawns, its presence is first noted in beady eyes and twitchy necks. Paranoia sets in. Each alleyway is a deathtrap, each unturned corner the hiding place of brain-hungry zombies. They’re everywhere. Bushes, trees, sidewalks, dorms. Everywhere. The looming shadow of the horde engulfs campus, and everyday tasks like doing the laundry become full-fledged missions. We become obsessed with avoiding the grasp of the brain-nommers.
But we have our guns. Without our plastic weaponry, we are but rodents venturing into the lion’s den. We become reliant on our Nerf accessories for day-to-day life: loading, cocking and, on occasion, firing—all to arrive at class still as humans. Yet simply equipping ourselves isn’t enough. After a couple jammed darts, we learn that maybe our Mavericks should be traded up for Alpha Troopers, MagStrikes, or Raiders. With the threat of zombification ever-lurking, we reject complacency and seek any and all arms.
And we don’t stop there. Once we’re satisfied with the heft of Nerf-ware adorning our own outfits, we look to form travelling groups with our fellow humans. Indeed, all the Nerf guns in the world could not give us the benefit of a second pair of eyes. In the sound company of comrades, we finally feel securely protected against the horde, though the threat never quite disappears altogether.
On the surface of it, HvZ is nothing more than a fanciful festivity for aging children, but truly, it’s much more than that. More artistically, HvZ is an interactive representation of the liberal arts college experience, only with a touch more violence.
The liberal arts student is scared—even paranoid. His fear, however, is much more real than the brain-gobbling horde. His fear is ignorance. From the lyrics of Ke$ha to the antics of Glenn Beck, he is bombarded by ignorance. Surely, if the lyrics of “We R Who We R” or the rants of Beck were to sink their vile canines into his brain too long, he would only become one more of the horde. The liberal arts student is deathly afraid of ignorance, and in spite of this ignorance he learns to revere the truth. In seeking the truth, he seeks life.
To seek life, he must have the tools for success. So he stocks up on historical understanding, logical argumentation, artistic interpretation, and more. He quickly learns that his current intellect will never suffice in the face of such domineering opposition, and so he always strives to push his understanding beyond perceived limits. In this quest, he knows only improvement because of his passion for knowledge, his passion to survive in the face of looming ignorance.
Though the liberal arts student may learn all the facts of the Reconstruction Era on his own, he is wise enough to understand that he can only gain true understanding by invoking new perspectives. He does not travel alone; rather, he surrounds himself with fellow learners. His comrades serve as an extra set of eyes, seeking out and avoiding the traps of ignorance he could not have spotted for himself.
This is our mission: to find truth in the face of ignorance. We must be sure to always have our wits about us, for it is in the brief moments when we let our guards down that we allow ignorance to sneak up from behind and grab hold of our brains. The horde of ignorance is always looming in the shadows, but we shall overcome. We are liberal arts students. We are learners. We are humans.