USF students robbed at gun point

It was Saturday at the University of South Florida and students were enjoying the break from the hectic week of classes and homework. Marc Miller was spending his day with friends at the USF football game.

“It was pretty much the best experience I’ve had going to a football game,” Miller said.

Later that day Miller, a Premedical science student, went to visit a friend who lived in the apartment complex along 42nd Street across from the USF campus. It was a little after 2 a.m. when Miller and two of his friends left the apartment to head back to the USF’s dormitories.

“My friends and I were walking down the street,” Miller said. “When a car parked off to the side, two men jumped out and just ran at us with guns yelling to us to get on the ground.”

As the two assailants approached Miller and his friends, Miller started shouting for help, but his shouts for help were silenced by one of the attackers.

“One of them started to strangle me around my neck,” Miller said.

What happened to Miller and his friends is not a rare occurrence in Tampa. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s annual crime report, in 2013 there were 582 robberies that involved the use of a firearm.

But reading about the crime statistics does not compare with actually becoming a statistic.

While Miller was being strangled his attacker noticed a gold chain and ripped it off his neck. His attacker then put the gun to his head and ordered him to empty out his pockets.

“He then ripped off the belt I was wearing and demanded my wallet,” Miller said. “When I stood up to take the wallet out of my back pocket, that’s when he struck me with the butt-end of the gun on my chest.”

While Miller and his two friends were being attacked, cars were driving by. The drivers ignorant to what was happening. One driver did notice and stopped.

“One car finally slowed down and honked, realizing what was going on,” Miller said.

That saved Miller and his friends, making the assailants run back to their vehicle and speed away.

Since the attack, Miller is constantly looking over his shoulders and being aware of his surroundings.

“I really don’t want to even go out anywhere,” Miller said. “All of my senses are heightened, so that’s how I act around campus now.”

Miller’s plans are to finish out the semester and then go back home to Massachusetts.

“I just want to go home and transfer back to a school, close to home, where I know I’ll be safe,” Miller said.







Old Tampa cigar factory repurposes property, emerges as community cornerstone

A historic three-story brick building has become a hot spot for artists in Tampa.

Santaella Studio for the ArtsBuilt in 1904 by wealthy cigar maker Antonio Santaella, the building was the home of the Santaella Cigar Factory.

The Santaella Cigar Factory was not only known for being one of the largest and most Babe Ruth at Santaella Cigar Factoryefficiently equipped factories in the city, but also for being Babe Ruth’s favorite place to stock up on cigars.


After being vacant for four years, Gray Ellis never thought he’d come to be the owner of such a factory.

Continue reading “Old Tampa cigar factory repurposes property, emerges as community cornerstone”

Taco Bus conquers Tampa with its popular Mexican food truck


Taco Bus provides Tampa with a unique and authentic dining experience while bringing a little bit of Mexico to the area.

It all started with a single bus 20 years ago. Today, Taco Bus restaurants still offer the same food the owner from Mexico served when he first opened his small business.

“He basically changed the name, added a food truck to it, and now, we’re at five locations,” said Aaron Lucas, the general manager of Taco Bus in Tampa and St. Petersburg.

The modern food truck trend began in 2008 in California. Since then, it has made its way eastward. Taco Bus was one of the first original food trucks in St. Petersburg. Lucas even thinks it might now be the most famous food truck in Florida.

Continue reading “Taco Bus conquers Tampa with its popular Mexican food truck”

Datz some good food in Tampa


Land O’ Lakes resident Matt Casey travels to South Tampa at least once a month in order to eat at Datz, the local restaurant, bar, and market place.D1

“We just like that feel of being a neighborhood hangout, part market, part restaurant” said Roger Perry, Datz D5co-owner

Datz began serving customers in 2009 and creates dishes such as sandwiches with their home made chips, fried chicken, shrimp and grits and their famous meat loaf which is featured on the Travel Channel.


“I like the quality of the food and the portion sizes, they’re pretty big” said customer Matt Casey. “Their sandwiches are the best. It’s just good food”

“We call it upscale comfort food” said Perry. “We’re famous for our meatloaf where we take mac and cheese bits and stuff it inside a meatloaf.”

TP_304663_DEAN_DATZ_1Datz has dine-in seating, including tables that can accommodate families of 10 and a back room for private parties. In addition, Datz has two bars which serve beer, wine, and spirits.

“We specialize in beer and bourbon” said bartender Patrick Devries. “We have 30 something different craft beers on tap at all times.”D4

Datz offers many spirits and seasonal drinks that General Manager and Bar Programmer Morgan Zuch creates. In addition to the actual bar, Datz has a large collection of beer tap handles that are on display in the lower bar.

Perry and his wife, other co-owner Suzanne Perry, said the name was created all around the letter ‘z’.

“I always liked the letter ‘z’” said Roger Perry. “The business I retired from was called Petzazz, a popular deli in Columbus is Zingerman’s. So I knew I wanted to start with the ‘z’”.

In 2014, Datz expanded and took over the building next doorD7 where they opened their sister store and bakery, ‘Dough’. Both establishments are open seven days a week and can be found on MacDill Avenue in South Tampa.

KES The Band brings Caribbean flair to USF

Kees Dieffenthaller and DJ Robbie perform at the Caribbean Culture Exchange’s general body meeting. (Photo by Jasmin Lankford)

The energy in the room was electrifying. Toes were tapping and hands were clapping to the rhythm of Caribbean drums, guitars and a single soulful voice. Instantly, a woman felt as if she was standing on a beach in Trinidad, surrounded by clear water. Instead, she was inside the Marshall Student Center at the University of South Florida.

The music of KES The Band transported its listeners to the island it originated from, combining calypso music with R&B and reggae to create soca. USF’s Caribbean Cultural Exchange hosted this temporary island escape. The student organization treated its members on Oct. 15 to a meet and greet with KES.

“I have to say blessings to my management,” said Kees Dieffenthaller, the lead singer of KES. “They listen to what I want to do, and I really want to meet young people, vibe and just talk.”

Dieffenthaller visited the CCE’s general body meeting to answer questions from USF students and to sing several songs.

Continue reading “KES The Band brings Caribbean flair to USF”

Bosnian war survivor repays parent’s sacrifice

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Mia Topic seems like an average sorority sister. She loves her Alpha Delta Pi sisters, being social and making people smile.

Her ambitious attitude was molded by the struggles her family faced. Topic and her parents immigrated to the United States to escape the Bosnian Civil War.

Topic was born in 1993, just as the conflict in Bosnia intensified. She and her mother were forced to flee to Croatia without her father in the midst of war, because men in Bosnia were viewed as larger threat and had trouble leaving the country.

Topic and her mother took refuge in distant friends home in Croatia. Months passed, and they had no contact with her father. Her mother feared the worst.

Continue reading “Bosnian war survivor repays parent’s sacrifice”

USF student’s leadership role shows no limits


Photo Credit: Bull for Kids/ Dance Marathon

Phoebe Joseph, a senior political science major with a minor in economics, works as the Assistant Director of Communications at the USF Tampa Campus. As part of the Executive Branch of Student Government, Joseph is a paid part-time employee in addition to being a full-time student. She hopes to use her experience in governmental work to help others.

“Politics to me is doing things for the people,” Joseph said.

She went on to explain that the program allows students to be a part of Student Government without the pressure of committing to the leadership alone. Other students volunteer at events, which alleviates some of the pressure of organizing an event by themselves.

Continue reading “USF student’s leadership role shows no limits”

Cafe Literato brings European atmosphere near Purdue University

Café Literato transports the essence of European coffeehouses to the local area.

Open for more than a year, the small family owned cafe is located conveniently between Purdue University and the business district of West Lafayette. From the creators of local restaurants such as Cristos and Red Seven Bar and Grill.  The cafe was created exclusively with locals in mind.

Owner John Cristos and his family came up with the brick oven pizzeria and cafe concept.

“The name actually comes derives from the Italian word ‘literati’, which means somebody who pursues scholarly pursuits,”Cristos said. “We thought that was a nice tie-in with the university and that’s where Café Literato came from.”

The restaurant provides customers with access to a coffee bar and a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. Many people come to the restaurant to study or to just get a light meal. Patrons can order menu specialties including the BBQ Pork and Corn Pizza as well as the chocolate and spice chai lattes.

While many individuals enjoy the creative menu items, others are drawn to the new age decor and architecture. Customer Nathan Lord says the restaurant’s atmosphere is what brought him in.

“I kind of like how the different sections, you can actually get a little bit of privacy while still having an open atmosphere,” Lord said.  “I like the decor. I’m a fan of wood paneling and stuff, so I really like the decor and tables. It’s just friendly and inviting.”

Chef Felisha Clifton thinks it’s the adaptive nature of the restaurant that sets it apart.

“People can come and relax and study or they can meet friends for lunch,” Clifton said. “We are one of the only few places in town that has a brick oven, as well as a full coffee bar. So it’s nice to be able to come in and you have your full access to the coffee bar and also a full lunch menu.”

For more information on Café Literato, including the menu choices, visit

USF community retaliates against sexual misconduct on campus

In the wake of recent incidents on campus, USF committees are getting active in educating students on the dangers of sexual harassment.

According to the USF Police Department, two women were met by a stranger late at night on Nov. 4. They were approached on separate occasions within less than 30 minutes of each other. The situations escalated to inappropriate personal contact before the male suspect fled the scene.

Continue reading “USF community retaliates against sexual misconduct on campus”

Gaspar’s Renovates It’s Tampa Legacy

Posed Photo by Joseph Meier
Joseph Meier


It is 1:30 in the morning. Jimmy Ciaccio gets out of his bed and heads to Gaspar’s Bar and Grill — his bar, which belonged to his father before him — to begin his fourth renovation.

“I’ve put my blood, sweat and tears into this place,” said Ciaccio, owner of Gaspar’s Bar and Grill.

Ciaccio could have contracted out the project or delegated it to his employees, but he showed up and worked himself.  From laying down the hardwood floors to hanging doors, Ciaccio built his bar from the ground up.

Continue reading “Gaspar’s Renovates It’s Tampa Legacy”

The face of USF’s Gamma Phi Beta seasons with busy life as re-elected president

USF’s Panhellenic Community congratulates President Ashley Gabriel as she enters her second term. (Photograph retrieved from Panhellenic Sorority Life Facebook Page.)

Thirty emails answered, two homework assignments completed and one chapter read from her textbook “Operations Management.” While many of her peers at USF are still in bed or fighting to stay awake in their 9 a.m. labs, Ashley Gabriel has already crossed off a few items on her to-do list. Continue reading “The face of USF’s Gamma Phi Beta seasons with busy life as re-elected president”

Sharon McCaman and USF’s dance film revolution

Sharon McCaman is excited about this year’s Dance Shorts Student Film Festival. She knows that this year will be different, but she can’t quite put her finger on how. Perhaps more people will submit their original dance films. Perhaps the gala, where patrons view the work of the finalists, will be grander.

Perhaps it will be different this year because it is her final year running the show.

“It’s almost a little unnerving, for a couple of reasons – one, to know that I have to relinquish the outcome on a level,” said McCaman. “I have to walk away and say ‘Bye, see you later’. But in another way, to know that in ten years if this is still happening, I started that! It’s weird.”

McCaman started dancing when she was just 4 years old. She danced at her performing arts middle school, her performing arts high school, University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and a small dance company in Lakeland. She even danced in Las Vegas. But then, for five years, McCaman wouldn’t practice her craft at all.

During her hiatus from dance, her life moved in a different direction. She worked as a promotions assistant at an alternative rock radio station, moving up the ranks through various marketing and sales positions.

“So much of my job required me to be innovative and forward thinking,” said McCaman. “Although it was challenging, it afforded me the opportunity to be imaginative and artistic. That’s how I always knew I would go back to dancing, that need to create is inherent in me.”

When her reunion with dancing finally came, something amazing was born – Dance. Film. Revolution.

It was in Professor Andee Scott’s choreography class that McCaman discovered a genre of dance known as dance for film. Inspired by the way technology and dance came together to create this subset of dance, she came up with the idea to host a festival, where students at universities across the country could submit short dance films. Dance. Film. Revolution is a student organization created for that very purpose, producing the Dance Shorts Student Film Festival.

“We were at the library working on a big dance history paper, we kept switching gears between the paper and the festival, and by early morning, we realized we still hadn’t done this paper,” said Jacqueline Dugal, former treasurer for Dance. Film. Revolution. “That was the moment when we both realized it was going to be a really big feat to get this done, not just a side project. That night, Sharon dropped history.”

In 2013, the first year of the festival, there were 29 submissions from universities all over the country, with 16 states represented at the festival. Creating and overseeing a festival of that size was a lot of work, but McCaman’s spirit never wavered.

“She’d been coming to me with grand ideas from the beginning,” said dance professor Andee Scott. “She’d always been thinking about ways to present the work of students in the community. She knows how to dream big, and that’s good.”

With a whole team behind her, McCaman anticipates that this year’s festival will be bigger and better than the last. She hopes than in subsequent years the festival will continue to grow and reach more artists looking for an audience.

“We all want to feel valued and we all want to feel like what we do means something on some level,” said McCaman. “We want to know that we’ve been the best human beings we can be, that we’ve done the most we can do.”

The Dance Shorts Student Film Festival is currently accepting submissions for this year’s festival, and interested parties can learn more at the official website.

Ayla Horan: Lambda Theta Alpha’s Helping Hand at USF

Ayla Horan is a Spanish major at USF and a Lambda Theta Alpha member.


Students slouch around the Marshall Student Center in sweatpants and squeaky, soaked sneakers,  umbrellas dripping at their sides. Everyone seems to be falling asleep to the dull patter of rain falling against the building’s roof and windows, until one female’s laughter breaks through the dreary ambiance.

Ayla Horan hugs and greets several acquaintances on her way inside the student center. She flashes a huge smile, pushing her long brown hair to one side as she adjusts a bulging burgundy Greek emblazoned tote bag.

Leaving her friends, she answers several new text messages on her phone. Horan’s online presence only underlines her outgoing and social personality. Online there are photos of herself with sorority sisters and friends abound—one can’t help but notice her many involvements and accomplishments at USF. Horan seems to do, and have it all.

However, a second look shows her to be much more than just a polished social butterfly of a sorority girl.

“I grew up always being told, ‘You’re going to be just like your parents. You’re going to amount to nothing,’” Horan said.

She grew up outside of Atlantic City, New Jersey, in a house broken by crime and drugs. Horan’s mother did drugs up until she was born; her father, an alcoholic, drug addict and robber, was in and out of jail. Continue reading “Ayla Horan: Lambda Theta Alpha’s Helping Hand at USF”

Phi Sigma Pi president works to improve education after graduation

Cristina VasquezThis Thanksgiving, Cristina Vasquez, president of USF’s Phi Sigma Pi, is thankful for school.

“There are times when I realize how lucky I am to go to college,” said Vasquez, reminiscing about her worry over attending a university. “I don’t want other students to have to miss out on an education because something is holding them back.”

Growing up in a military home, Vasquez was constantly moving between foreign bases like Italy, Japan and Germany, filled with interesting cities and people. Her diverse insight has provided her with a worldly perspective on life and the importance of education.

“There are different education systems around the world, but most are more accessible than schools in the [United] States,” said Vasquez. She has seen firsthand the issues that plague students in the Tampa Bay community who cannot afford to get an education because of socioeconomic problems.

Vasquez believes that part of the reason why students drop out of high school or do not continue on to college, is because they don’t receive proper counseling and instruction on how to apply to school and receive funding. She also believes that some of them do not realize the importance of school, early on.

“My mother worked a full-time job, raised three kids and sacrificed her free time to go to college. Without her, I never would have realized the importance of education. I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I have now.” Vasquez said.

Annie Hudgins, Vasquez’s mother, agrees that she was always trying to instill the importance of education into her children.

“I always told my children, I can’t leave you much but the one thing I want for you all is to get an education, because once you have that many doors that will open up for you. You [will] start to understand the world and others better,” she said.

Currently, Vasquez is a senior psychology student at USF. She hopes to become a high school counselor in the future, so that she may aid students into choosing to pursue higher education, despite the obstacles they may face. In the meantime, she uses her fraternity influence to run school supply and book drives for local elementary and middle schools.

“We have a philanthropic goal to overcome in the fraternity, and mine is education inequality. Every child deserves a good education,” said Vasquez. While the fraternity also participates in other charitable goals, like cleaning up the USF campus, Vasquez enjoys being able to pursue her passions with her fraternity.

Kiana Coffey, Vasquez’s best friend and roommate is also a member of Phi Sigma Pi and supports Vasquez’s passions in the fraternity.

“I think this is a really important goal. More accessible education would offer students facing adversity more opportunities for success,” Coffey said. She also believes that Vasquez’s loving nature and strong leadership skills would make her successful in pursuing this passion.

Vasquez may be an education advocate in the Tampa community, but at USF she makes strides elsewhere. Vazquez runs the first all gender-inclusive, honor fraternity at USF. Phi Sigma Pi consists of 40 to 60 people each semester, all of which have at least a 3.2 GPA and three or more semesters left at the university. According to Vasquez, Phi Sigma Pi has a hand in everything including scholarship, social and charity events.

Despite having the final say in fraternity decisions, Vasquez always takes into consideration the opinions of all her fraternity members.

“As a leader, it’s important to take the backseat and do what’s best for the group,” said Vasquez.

Patrick Bagge, a Phi Sigma Pi initiary advisor believes that Vasquez is a great mentor.

“[She] always puts the needs of others before her own,” Bagge said. “and always does her utmost to fulfill her goals.”

Cellular and Molecular Biology student, Kaylie Male, also agrees that Vasquez is an influential leader.

“I don’t think that [Vasquez] realizes how much positivity she radiates. I feel that her future will greet her with many more opportunities than she may even think possible. Her positivity and determination will be at the root of her success,” said Male, who has been a member of Phi Sigma Pi for two years.

Vasquez will be graduating USF in the spring of 2015. She hopes to inspire others to pursue higher schooling and become leaders within their community.

“Cristina will do a lot of good in the world, in small ways and big ways. She is definitely someone to keep an eye on,” Coffey said.


Former football captain blitzes into USF campus life, leads by example

For most students, college is about the impact it has on them. But for one junior at the University of South Florida, it’s the other way around.

Victor Cimino is a member of the USF Student Senate, newly elected president of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity and a programming director at the Center for Student Involvement. He uses all three platforms to help others and impact their lives.

With so many leadership roles on campus, Cimino likes to think of them as additional classes. He knows just how important it is to keep up with all of his positions, so he frequently check his emails but understands when its time to take a break and focus on homework. A typical day for him begins at 8 a.m. and he doesn’t get back to his apartment until 11 p.m.

Some of Cimino’s duties include: planning and managing the events for Homecoming Week and USF Week, leading his fraternity and making positive changes to their organization, and also fulfilling the expectations of the students who elected him to senate.

Despite his heavy involvement on campus, and the impact he has on student life at USF, Cimino doesn’t let it get to his head—especially since he wasn’t one to be interested in leadership positions prior to college.

Continue reading “Former football captain blitzes into USF campus life, leads by example”

Skip the all-nighter, get some sleep

Roshni Patel and Keylon Moraldo are two complete strangers with one thing in common: Neither of them gets enough sleep.

Patel, a sophomore biomedical sciences major, is at the library almost every night during the school week. A typical day on campus for her begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 1 a.m., when she finally returns to her off-campus apartment.

“I probably get four to five hours of sleep on a normal night,” Patel said. “Some nights I get even less, and I feel really sleepy. Then I’m just dragging myself through the day, trying to figure out the next time I can hit my bed.”

Moraldo, a sophomore chemical engineering major, cites his heavy workload and roommate issues for his lack of sleep. He says that getting the ideal seven to eight hours of rest is impossible because he has so much to do and needs to get good grades.

“I don’t have a bedtime. I just basically nap for an hour or so— seriously, it’s what I do!” he said. “I know it’s not good, and I’m trying to readjust it in time for exams, so I can be well-rested for them.”

Patel and Moraldo are just two of the many college students nationwide who are sleep-deprived. Nearly 60 percent of college students claimed to feel “tired, dragged out, or sleepy” on multiple days during a normal week, according to a 2010 study of over 95,000 students by the American College Health Association. Brown University also reported that only 11 percent of college students get good sleep.

“Unfortunately, students don’t realize how much sleep deprivation affects their performance,” said Rachael Novick, a certified health education specialist at the USF Wellness Education center. “Health-wise, sleep can affect everything.”

Novick said that lack of sleep can cause students to feel more stressed leading to weight gain, a weakened immune system and problems learning and remembering material for class.

Dr. Robert Geck, the associate program director and a faculty physician at the USF Sleep Center, agreed.

“Inadequate sleep makes it difficult to consolidate your memories and to form new ones,” he said. “As a student, pulling an all-nighter actually impairs your memory more than getting a good night’s rest.”

Geck also pointed out that students run the risk of injuring themselves and others when they don’t get enough sleep. At a commuter school like USF, sleep-deprivation can cause grogginess and judgment problems in students driving to and from campus, resulting in car accidents.

But the bad news doesn’t stop there.

The amount of stress on a student’s body due to sleep deprivation could also have some serious consequences.

“Increased stress can lead to an increased disposition towards diabetes, heart disease and stroke farther down the road for students,” Geck said.

However, the good news is that it’s never too late for students to try and fix their sleeping habits.

“A lot of students don’t know what it feels like to be well-rested and productive because they never have been,” said Novick.

The Wellness Education center seeks to inform students on the importance of getting more sleep through data collection and programs on campus involving topics such as proper napping. Novick explained that naps shouldn’t make up for students’ lack of nighttime sleep, and they should only last 20 to 30 minutes. That amount of time allows students’ bodies to reach a restorative level of sleep, allowing them to wake up feeling energized.

“Sleep packs” are also available for free from the Wellness Education center. They include earplugs, an eye mask and “sleepy time” tea to help a student relax and get a good night’s rest.

Students may also be surprised that some of their daily habits can affect the quality of their sleep at night.

Geck recommended avoiding caffeinated drinks after 12 p.m. Beverages like coffee and soda only help to alleviate tired feelings for a short time, and can make it difficult to fall asleep at night. He explained that electronics, such as cell phones, tablets and TVs, should be turned off and kept away from the bed. The noises and light produced by these devices can disturb a student’s sleep throughout the night.

But the biggest change is probably the easiest to think of: setting a sleep schedule.

“Ideally, the key would be to keep a strict sleep regimen. Try to keep the same bedtime and wakeup time, if you can, regardless of the day of the week,” said Geck.

Like any problem, the first step to solving it is admitting you have one, and Patel and Moraldo aren’t in denial.

“I think if I didn’t feel like I have to do every single thing, I’d have more time to sleep,” said Moraldo. “I’m definitely going to spend a lot of time sleeping over winter break, and hopefully come back to school on a better schedule.”

Patel sees a few all-nighters in her future, and knows exactly how they will impact the average amount of sleep she gets.

“Oh, it’ll decrease, for sure,” she said. “I wish I got more sleep than I do.”

Florida Focus: 11-24-2014

In today’s episode of Florida Focus: a police officer shot and killed a firefighter; a motorcyclist died in a crash earlier this morning; Metropolitan Ministries is serving families this holiday season; and Bay St has been transformed into an ice palace.


Lily Simone balances two careers: elementry teacher and Orlando Magic dancer

Lily Simone was once an ordinary girl with dreams of becoming a marine biologist. Now, she manages two careers: 3rd-grade teacher and dancer for the Orlando Magic Basketball Team.

“It has been difficult managing two careers,” said Simone. “However, I think I have gotten better as time goes on managing my schedule and doing both things at the same time.”

Simone works approximately 40 hours per week, but after school, instead of grading papers, she heads to Amway Arena to practice with her team, the Orlando Magic Dancers, or to perform on the sidelines and at quarter breaks during home basketball games.

The 20 members of the Orlando Magic Dancers, according to Jeanine Klem-Thomas, the Entertainment Teams Manager and dance coach, are all full-time students or have full-time careers.

“These are the strong, independent, intelligent women who are more than just big hair and red lips dancing on a court,” said Simone. “It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to dance on that court and manage an outside career and I don’t think the public understands that.”

The University of South Florida SunDolls dance team played a large role in Simone’s ability to manage a full time teaching schedule and a full time Magic schedule.

“Even though Lily is rookie, she has been fantastic on the team,” said Klem-Thomas.  “She is always smiling and goofy but she knows when to work hard and she always gives 200 percent.”

You can watch Simone and her teammates perform on Nov. 7th at Amway Arena as the Orlando Magic take on the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“I love teaching and interacting with my kids and I love performing for the Magic” said Simone.

The Zombie Invasion – Humans vs. Zombies at USF

Zombies used to hit the snooze button until late October. On the 31st, the undead knocked on stranger’s doors to collect Starbursts and Milky Ways in pillowcases and plastic pumpkin buckets that Mom got last-minute at CVS. When November peeked its head, the zombie spirit returned to hibernation, with the exception of their appearances in horror novels, TV shows, and the big screen.

But times are changing.

Zombies are hip. Zombies are cool. Zombies wear thick-rimmed glasses and study Chemistry on the third floor of the USF library.

Jesus was a zombie.

They play video games. They play football. They play beer pong.

They attack the Human Resistance outside of Cooper Hall and meet up for a Subway sandwich (sans brains) afterwards.

This isn’t folklore. It’s the Walking Dead fan’s dream.

While zombies may be myth to most, the club members of Humans vs. Zombies (HvZ) know better. Participating USF members will enter a game where only foam NERF guns, blowguns, and balls of socks can protect the Human Resistance from bloodthirsty zombies Nov. 6-11.

“It’s a six-day-long, 24-hours-a-day game of apocalyptic tag,” said David Phillips, president of HvZ.

The rules are elementary. Humans try to avoid getting tagged, while zombies tag as many humans as possible. However, zombies can be stunned for a given amount of time if they’re hit with one of the approved weapons.

While an outsider might scoff at the use of a child’s toy, The Human Resistance takes their NERF gun game very seriously. Members show off photos on the HvZ Facebook of their occasionally hand-painted NERF arsenals like moms show off photos of their kids.

The HvZ garb is adhered to with the same amount of enthusiasm. To distinguish friend from foe, the Human Resistance wears a bandana around the upper arm, while zombies instead have them around their heads. Once hit by a weapon, a zombie must tieir the bandana around his neck to signal he’s been stunned and thus give the human a chance for escape.

The club’s origins are as mysterious as the origins of zombie folklore, but Phillips is sure of their future. On average, 300-400 players from freshman to alumni participate in the human massacre – and that number keeps growing.

“A lot of people tend to look at it as the video game nerds who play, and we love those people. They’re awesome, core players,” said Phillips, an engineering major. “But, we also have all different kinds of people.”

A testament to the club’s diversity of players, Vincent McCoige is one of the club’s advisers while working at USF as a teaching assistant and getting his master’s degree in psychology. Other noteworthy members include football players, track-star athletes, and sorority and fraternity affiliates.

Bewildered freshman and those who never found their niche in campus-life have also found camaraderie through screaming “brains” across campus. HvZ Moderator Jack Kelly said it opened the door for his social life.

“Some things that may seem strange at first can definitely change your life and impact it in different ways,” said Kelly.

Kelly formed a close-knit friendship through a faction within HvZ called the Rockstar Vatican Assassins, but other pre-made factions available to join include The Abandoned, a band faction promising hilarity; Squad, who assert, “We came here to kill zombies and chew bubblegum, and we’re all of out bubblegum;” and Naked, a faction that needs little further explanation.

Battling the undead isn’t just a USF phenomenon. Not only do members create friendships between other USF students and alumni, but also the bond of zombie-zapping undulates across campus-boundaries. HvZ has a national presence, played at universities all across the country.

While the USF HvZ game may be slightly different than zombie games at other schools, the basic rules are generally the same, said Phillips.

“With me, I was able to gain so many new friends, and we loved the game so much we went to Southeastern University and University of Florida to play,” Kelly said.

To stay updated on training missions and get lively with the undead Nov. 6-11, visit