ZombiCon shooting raises concerns for ZombieFest

Students who attend Programming Board’s annual ZombieFest on Oct. 28 will be seeing tighter rules and higher security following a recent shooting at the annual Fort Myers event ZombiCon.
Event organizers are adding extra security and allowing one entrance and exit into the event. Also, costumes, face paint, face masks and fake weapons will not be allowed at this year’s event. PB members will be checking student IDs prior to entrance and will be marking hands with permanent marker to prevent reentry.
The event, which features a haunted house, mechanical pumpkin, dance floor and food, is held on the second floor of the Cohen Center.
Allie Taylor, director of late night for PB, expects that new rules will affect student attendance.
“This is one of our biggest annual events, under Winter Wonderland,“ Taylor said, noting that PB has spent $9,970 on the event so far. “An event of this scale usually has an attendance of 500 to 700 people. I’m concerned that with some of the precautions we’re taking, students aren’t going to bother to come out to ZombieFest.”

Julie Gleason, assistant dean of students, said the new rules and extra security are related to the growth of the annual FGCU event.
“Last year, the event got big, we had over 700 people at the event, so we just want to make sure that students are safe at all times,” Gleason said. “We try to ID students at our bigger events as much as possible because these events are put on by A&S funds, and it really should only be students there.”
The event changes come days after a shooting at the ninth annual ZombiCon that claimed the life of one man and injured five other people in downtown Fort Myers.
Gleason noted that students don’t tend to dress up for the event, but the restrictions were being implemented to make it easier to identify students.

“We want to make sure we can match an ID to the student,” Gleason said. “Dressing up can obscure what a student looks like.”
Jenna Gillan, PB president, said that the higher security is due to the events at last weekend’s ZombiCon shooting in downtown.
“Yes, the reason we are having security is due to what occurred at ZombiCon,” Gillan said. “We want the students to always feel safe at Programming Board events and at the school in general. So, because of what just happened, we felt it would be best to have security there as a preventative measure.”
Students say that the new regulations make them feel safer in light of last weekend’s shooting, but don’t agree with the no- costumes rule.
“I think it definitely makes me feel a lot more secure,” said freshman Jillian Lachick, who was near the shooting when it happened, “but I think that the only thing that needs to change is the costumes. I like dressing up. I like Halloween, but face masks, and everything else, I completely understand.”

FGCU freshman Savannah Kelly says the event will be fun regardless of the new rules.
“I feel safer, but it kind of takes away the fun if you’re not allowed to dress up,” Kelly said. “I don’t care about dressing up because I don’t want to dress up. I think it’ll be fun either way.”
Both said that the new regulations would not influence their decision to go to ZombieFest.
The event will be held from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, Oct. 28 in the Cohen Center. Students will not be admitted without their student ID.