Licensed to soak
Sophomore psychology major Heather Magnuson. Students participating in Catch Me If You Can shake up their everyday routines to catch their targets and avoid being caught themselves. | Marika Adamopoulos/THE CHIMES
On Monday morning, Feb. 23, students poured out of Chase Gymnasium, scattering around the campus to classes, dorm rooms, the library or the Caf. At the mailboxes, however, several students were receiving a license to catch other students.
LICENSED TO SQUIRT
Associated Students assigned squirt guns and “targets” to the 200 students who had signed up for Catch Me If You Can. Each student, when they signed up, received a contract to turn in to AS if eliminated. If, however, they managed to find and eliminate their own target, the students could receive new targets.
“I don’t know really what I was expecting,” said freshman elementary education major Savannah Ozier. “It started immediately. I’m still looking for my target, but I know what she looks like. So I’m just looking around and ready, but I can never find her.”
After receiving their targets, many students turn to social media or the Biola directory to track them.
“Obviously I’ve done some of the Facebook stalking, used the Biola directory, but I haven’t hid out,” said senior journalism major Amber Nunn. “I came into Horton and saw the girl I thought I was supposed to get, so I went and sat on the lawn outside and waited for her to come outside. I saw her leave the building, so I took off running after her, and was like, ‘I have a license to catch you!’ and started shooting her.”
Unable to shoot the squirt guns inside any of the buildings, students hide out in the dorms, library or Caf.
“I’ve noticed that I’ve been staying inside a lot more often,” Ozier said. “So I’m like, ‘As long as I’m in a building, I’m safe.’”
The “agents” are aware that they, too, are targets. In the past, students have dyed their hair or, like Cooley, changed their Facebook profiles to keep hidden. However, students can still track their targets using other means, such as their friends.
“I think the fun thing that I really enjoyed seeing was how easy friends turn on other friends,” said sophomore kinesiology major Jordyn Cooley. “Last year, I had a friend who knew the person I was supposed to get, and they said, ‘Oh, we’ll lure him outside, we’ll get him to go to dinner, we’ll make it perfect for you to get him.’ It was really fun.”
Knowing another student is tracking them gives some students a heightened awareness of their surroundings.
“I think I know who’s after me, so I’m definitely more paranoid, I keep turning and watching my back,” Nunn said. “I don’t know if he’s trying to mess with me and make me paranoid that he actually has me, or if he actually does, but even if he doesn’t, I’m still kind of paranoid.”
EMBRACING THE GAME
As the week progresses, the game becomes even more competitive as the list of targets shortens.
“The first day I wasn’t really into it, I kept my gun in my little Ziplock and every once in a while I’d pull it out, but now that I really know somebody’s after me, I just keep it out,” Nunn said. “I’m definitely getting more into it, now that I’ve made my first ‘kill.’”
Despite the paranoia, students enjoy the game, which provides a fun respite from the everyday workload.
“In college, it’s like you’re almost an adult, so it’s going back to that childhood phase. You’re having a water gun fight on campus, and that’s really great,” Ozier said. “It’s really fun, in the middle of all the hard work, and taking time to ... take a break. That’s the best.”
Catch Me If You Can also connects people in their efforts, bringing the Biola community together in fun, unexpected ways.
“You only get to experience how other people know people. I only know the person I’m supposed to get through their relationships with other people,” Cooley said. “You get to see just how connected people are.”