Hold onto your brains, it’s zombie time

New student group unites over a common interest in zombies.

Of the 115 new student groups created this school year, only one is planning for the apocalypse. The Minnesota Association for Zombie Enthusiasts, or MAZE, is a collective of students on campus who not only share an interest in zombies, but also plan to create a âÄúZombie Apocalypse Plan,âÄù which would map out escape routes and survival tips should the University of Minnesota ever be invaded. âÄúItâÄôs an interesting group,âÄù Andrew Graham, MAZE president and University first-year graphic design student said. âÄúItâÄôs unlike most student groups.âÄù For those unfamiliar with the topic, zombies are most commonly known as the âÄúLiving Dead,âÄù and have often been portrayed in pop culture via movies, video games and books like Max BrooksâÄô âÄúThe Zombie Survival Guide. âÄù BrookâÄôs book is a parody of survival guides and has served to lay down the foundation for the group, MAZE officer, and first-year student Tanner Gruba said. Graham said when drafting survival plans, the ideas are rooted in zombie culture common sense such as always escaping to the highest level possible in a building and destroying the stairs behind you. Gruba added that the group also uses a scale to rank a zombie outbreak ranging from one to four, with one being fewer than 11 zombies and four being a world-wide outbreak. The group also wants to identify trouble areas during an attack such as the Washington Avenue Bridge where congestion could prove fatal, Gruba said. âÄúGeneral knowledge is the best knowledge,âÄù Gruba said. âÄúThere is no safe place.âÄù So far, group meetings have averaged 12 people and have consisted of zombie movie nights, but Graham said he plans on making a website for the group and hold other events such as a zombie crawl. Graham said his interest in zombies started a year ago while in high school, adding that part of the intrigue comes from the fear of what would happen if zombies were real. A fan of the popular âÄú28 Days/Weeks LaterâÄù movies, Graham said he is most interested in biological zombies, such as those depicted in the films; zombies who have been created through means such as viruses. He added the biological element creates a âÄúlife-like applicationâÄù for zombies. He decided to form MAZE during Welcome Week, where he was intrigued by how easy it sounded to create a student group. As Graham set out to find other people for MAZE who were interested in zombies, he did not have to look further than his roommate, University first-year Daniel Dicken , who signed on right away. âÄúWhat male in our age group doesnâÄôt love zombies?âÄù Dicken said. As the two set out to find the three more people necessary to form an official University student group, they found many people within their own residence hall, Middlebrook. As a result, both Graham and Dicken said MAZE has helped ease their transition into college, helping them meet students with common interests. âÄúWe came together over this,âÄù Dicken said of MAZEâÄôs members. âÄúAnd thereâÄôs a clique thatâÄôs formed.âÄù As the majority of the groupâÄôs members are first- or second-year students as well as Middlebrook residents, Graham said he would like for the group to expand beyond Middlebrook and for more people to join. Graham said he feels many upperclassmen may not want to join MAZE due to the lack of other junior or senior members. âÄúWe are a laid back group,âÄù Gruba said of MAZE. âÄúYou do not have to be immersed in zombie culture.âÄù On average, 100 to 125 new student groups are formed each year on campus, Assistant Director of Student Unions and Activities Megan Sweet said. This year, while 115 new groups registered as official students groups, 124 allowed their registration to lapse. Sweet said with various groups registering and expiring, there is typically an average of 700 student groups each year. As for MAZE, the group is determined to become more active as it looks ahead to its second year. âÄúSetting it up was easy,âÄù Graham said. âÄúThe hardest part now is managing.âÄù