Student Spotlight: Co-vice president of Humans vs. Zombies

Student Spotlight Jonathan Foley, third-year computer science major

Jonathan Foley is a third-year computer science major and co-vice president of Humans vs. Zombies.

Jonathan Foley, a third-year student in the computer science program, helps facilitate the campus-wide game Humans vs. Zombies. Foley, from Wareham, Mass., isn’t sure what he wants to do with his degree, but he is interested in any options that allow him to use his honed computing skills. After two years of being a player, Foley now has the opportunity to help organize the game as co-vice president of the club, creating a fun and exciting environment for his fellow students.

Humans vs. Zombies is essentially a large, zombie-themed game of tag with intermittent battles and missions orchestrated by the Humans vs. Zombies club officers. Many campuses hold their own events to play Humans vs. Zombies, but RIT is home to one of the largest games across the country. This year the game starts Sunday, Sept. 10, the beginning of the third week of classes. For more information, go to

Question: What brought you to RIT?
Answer: I was kind of looking at colleges that weren’t very close to home and this seemed like a decent idea. I would say it worked out pretty well. I just wanted to be away from home and go to a decent school. I could have gone into the Boston area and tried for something like MIT, but for me that was still too close to home, and later years trying to live off campus would be difficult because Boston rent prices are crazy. RIT was one of the best computer science programs out there at a school that didn’t specialize in computing, so I had the advantage of going to a really great computer science school without the echo-chamber that is a computing college.

Q: Why did you decide to be involved with Humans vs. Zombies?
A: I actually had no idea what Humans vs. Zombies was when I first came to RIT. I heard about it during my first year and I just said, ‘Oh that sounds neat!’ so I started playing and went through the first two week-long games that year, and then moderated the fall semester of my second year. I then decided, ‘You know what, this club is really nice,’ so I decided to get more involved and here I am now.

Q: What is the goal of this event?
A: From the perspective of someone trying to run it, the goal is to maintain interest in the club and preferably grow so we have a higher percentage of people on campus playing the game. More people means more fun! The goal for players is to pretty much de-stress and have fun.

Q: What are your specific contributions to organizing the game?
A: The vice presidents are primarily in charge of designing the missions for the week-long game and our invitational, which is happening at the end of September this year. We basically design the missions and make sure that players have something to do so it’s not just a game of here, go out on campus and try to survive for the week. There is something to do every night that makes the game more exciting and also makes the game go quicker. If people are out there and active, more people die. It keeps the game going. We will give various rewards depending on the night and each specific mission, but in the end we look at how each team scored each night and we keep a tally of it.

Q: What is your favorite part of facilitating the game?
A: This is my first semester being on the board so I can’t speak as to my favorite part, but it’s definitely a great creative outlet. It’s something I can just throw all of my creative juices in and create the game. I haven’t been a part of running it yet because it’s not until week three, but I’m eager to see what it’s like.

Q: What is your favorite part about playing the game?
A: I live for the skirmishes. I don’t personally like the really large fights where it’s like 40 humans versus 60 zombies and you’re just colliding like two walls, and then people end up going missing left and right and you find them later in the night as a zombie. I like it when it’s much smaller, say, five to 10 humans at most, and you’re pretty much evenly matched. When someone dies at that point it’s like a tragedy because you lose pretty much 10 percent of your squad. It’s a lot more frantic and you’re really trying to defend yourself, not relying on herd immunity to live.

Q: How has being involved in the event affected your overall experience on campus?
A: Well I would definitely say it helped learning the campus during my freshman year because you need to know where to go and how to get places. Learning the tunnels is a big thing, and when people tell you, ‘Hey, go to Kodak Quad,’ if you don’t know where Kodak Quad is you have a problem. So you have to learn campus pretty quickly, you have to learn where you are and what people call different places. It’s also helped my situational awareness and just overall confidence in certain situations. If you can 3-v-1 zombies, most classes aren’t a big deal at that point.

Q: What are your plans following graduation?
A: I’m a third year and this is a five-year program, so I don’t need to plan that right now. I don’t have any dream jobs, but I might look into moving back home. I don’t really have a preference of where I go or what I do, as long as it’s in my field and I can use my skills and be useful it will be fun.

Felicia Swartzenberg compiles “Student Spotlights” for University News. Contact her at with suggestions.

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