Adam Daniels introduces his film to a spirited group of students.
Adam Daniels introduces his film to a spirited group of students.

Upon realizing that zombies are the next big thing in pop culture, Adam Daniels translated the thematic zombie virus as an infection caught by UCR students every time they decide to join a club, attend a game or take advantage of resources on campus. What resulted is the spread of the Tartan Epidemic.

Daniels, who is originally from Oregon, was involved with Highlander Orientation during the summer and works full time for Student Life and Commuter Programs. He has always been interested in film and decided to utilize his job here as well as promote pride and unity among our students. His other work includes a “Stuff Commuters Say” video on YouTube. “It became so much more than I expected it to,” says Daniels. Because the film was praised so highly by ASPB, Student Life and Athletics, he took advantage of the project gaining momentum and planned an official “quarantine zone” to be held in the beginning of Winter Quarter.

At 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan 16, a diverse group of excited students consisting of of student athletes, club members, friends and couples huddled outside of HUB 302. When the doors finally opened 15 minutes later, students dispersed into the large space, settling into the far corners of the room with their free slices of cold pizza. The crowd, which was genuinely enthusiastic, listened intently when Assistant Athletics Director Jason List took the stage and announced: “Thank you for coming out. We know you’re all very concerned about the epidemic.” The microphone was then handed to Adam Daniels, who told everyone to “imagine a world where everyone is infected by school spirit.”

Before proceeding to show his 8 minute film titled “The Last One,” he admitted: “This is kind of my baby.” The film opens with a lone student wandering around the Bell Tower and HUB. He explains to us that, as far as he knows, he is the last student to remain uninfected by a highly contagious plague of school spirit, and he thus spends his days in empty classes on an empty campus. He then spends his nights trying to avoid the infected, who would most assuredly take him to a game or make him join a club and spread the plague.

After 85 days of solitude, he meets one more uninfected student, and the two share a brief companionship before our hero sees blue paint beginning to drip from her nose—the first sign of infection. He runs for shelter and locks the other student out, letting her get taken by a pack of ravenous Highlanders, all clad in blue and gold clothing and paint. The guilt of letting her get taken away drives him to seek out the heart of the infection at the Student Recreation Center that night. There he finds Patient Zero, the start of great epidemic, who turns out to be the one and only Scotty the Bear. He high fives Scotty and walks into the SRC for his first basketball game, knowing that after giving in to the infection, “things would be better… things would be different.”

When we see our hero again, he is now sporting a UCR shirt and blue face paint. He talks about being happier now that he is more active on campus. He leaves with the message, “It could get lonely out there by yourself, so get involved.”

The film ended with a warm applause from the audience, especially from Scotty. Daniels then returned to the stage briefly, reminding us that school spirit is quite easy to get infected with and that there are already organizations that exist purely to promote it. With that he gave the stage to two representatives of Highlander Hype, who informed the audience about their presence and purpose on campus and then lead them in UCR’s fight song.

Jim Wooldridge, head coach of the men’s basketball team, then took the stage along with three of his players. Unfortunately, he fumbled on the last names and hometowns of his players, causing a short-lived but nonetheless awkward rift. He asked the crowd, “Do you know how good you guys have it here?” After the proud cheers and hollers of students died down, he proceeded to say that he had been all over the country and that “UCR is the best school I’ve ever been to.”

During the short and sweet one hour event, the priority mainly seemed to center upon  encouraging students to go to the basketball game the following day at 7 p.m. as well as just to attend more games in general. Coach Wooldridge made it a point to tell the audience that the team does play better whenever the crowd is spirited and supportive. The event then came to a close with last reminders to stay spirited and infect everyone else that you can.

Check in on any its Facebook, Twitter or YouTube accounts and find a very sincere reenactment of disease spreading through UCR’s campus reminiscent of medical thrillers such as 2011’s “Contagion” and 2007’s  “I am Legend,” complete with up-to-date warning statuses and recorded interviews with concerned members of the community.

Complete with its biohazard symbolism and dangerous mystique, Tartan Epidemic was not some new student organization that promotes school spirit, as some had suspected, but rather a new marketing strategy for those that already exist. And from the looks of the virus so far, no student is immune.