What KPU Campus Would Best Survive a Zombie Apocalypse?

Anthropology prof. Sam Migliore weighs in on how the walking dead would affect student life
Alyssa Laube Staff Writer & Melissa Pomerleau Contributor

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KPU anthropology instructor Dr. Sam Migliore discusses zombies—among many other preternatural things—in his second year anthropology course Religion, Magic and Witchcraft. Migliore’s interest in zombies came from his brother, an actor who has been in over 30 zombie projects including movies, stage plays, and commercials. Together the two are in the early stages of writing a book all about the undead.

“By doing the book with him I want to get at issues of things to do with socialization, how do you learn to be a zombie and what does it mean to be a zombie in these films? How does that sort of change people to become something else on the screen?” says Migliore.

According to Migliore, to be a zombie you must be changed in terms of how you think, but as an actor in a zombie movie there are many things to think about.

“The idea is to figure out what is a zombie and then what type of interaction will that zombie have with people,” he says.

Much like you and I, zombies come in all shapes and sizes, with a wide array of personalities. There’s the wildly horrific, bloodcurdling, rotten flesh monsters chomping at the bit to eat your brains, and then there’s the slow-moving horde that chases you into a corner, savouring every scared breath, waiting to tear you limb from limb. More recent zombie depictions, like Netflix’s iZombie, even have fully functioning member-of-society-type zombies selling brains like drugs, and med students working out of hospital morgues to receive under-the-table access to all-you-can-eat brains.

“I’m looking to see how those transformations and new additions might tell us something about society,” says Migliore.

One example Migliore expressed was the location of a zombie feeding ground in a George Romero film—director of icon zombie films such as Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978)—where zombies enter a mall to find their food. “We can use [that] as a metaphor to tell us about capitalism and our consumptions and our wants and desires,” he says.

It’s not everyday you get to talk about zombies in an academic setting, but Migliore brings his undead fascination to work with him. Having previously weighed in on how the city of Richmond would fare in a zombie apocalypse for The Richmond News, we thought we’d ask Migliore to turn his critical eye towards KPU to find out which of the four KPU campuses would provide students the best refuge, should the dead begin to walk again.

Regarding the Langley campus, “It’s right on the route going out to the rest of Canada or coming in from the rest of Canada, it might be a dangerous place,” suggests Migliore.

However, Langley Representative Connor Griffiths made a compelling case for his campus by pointing out the sheer amount of resources available, such as rooftop gardens, farmland and greenhouses, tools for weapons from the horticulture program, beer for bartering with other apocalypse survivors, and access to medical equipment and antibiotics from the health building. Griffiths also pointed out the creeks and ponds around campus can support fish and provide drinking water. With the Best Western just across the parking lot there is ample room for survivors to take refuge. Due to the lower student body count, Griffiths is confident it would be easy enough for the campus to support itself through farming.

Though, surely with the most students located on the Surrey campus there’s enough of us to fight off the hordes, right? Maybe sacrifice a few and while the zombies are busy gorging their bellies the rest can make a break for it.

VP Student Services and Surrey Campus Representative Tanvir Singh believes the Surrey campus is best for survival “due to it being a suburb. It’s not heavily populated so people have the ability to get out of the city as soon as possible.”

As a result there would be less members of the community fighting for the same resources. According to Singh, the second floor of the library would be the optimal place for people to take refuge. “You’d be able to barricade those stairs and make sure people can’t go up and down. . .you could easily ladder over to the fir building so you’d have access there as well.”

According to Migliore, however, it wouldn’t quite be the optimal location at all. “I think [Surrey campus] would be a worry because you have so many people there. [It] would be a good place for zombies to attack.”

As for the Richmond campus, it has a few unique advantages to help increase their chance of survival. Being home to The Wilson School of Design, the campus likely has human busts or mannequins (for apparel design) to aid in some sort of distraction technique. Think of an I Am Legend type scenario, mixed with a little puppetry magic and human sounds over the PA to lure the zombies into the Melville Centre for Dialogue just long enough to secure human refuge elsewhere in the building long enough for someone else to come up with a better plan. Migliore suggests that the Richmond campus, being closer to water and bridges, might come in handy to protect the area expanding past campus.

Lastly, the Cloverdale campus, home of the trades, “maybe you can make yourself some weapons or some barriers,” says Migliore.

Barricades will be mandatory if this campus is to survive the apocalypse, as “there’s so much glass on it, if you get more than ten zombies coming at you from any one point the glass is just going to break,” says Singh.

The zombie fascination has a lot more to do with things going on in society than one might initially realize. “One of the themes in the zombie movies is that there is some kind of disease that’s spread through a bite and then people are transformed,” says Migliore.

When you consider the ease of travel today and how much that can facilitate the spread of disease, you see “our fears of disease, potentially rapid spread of disease, get played out in the zombie films,” he says. “I think that all our fears are encapsulated in the zombie movies and people recognize that one way or another.”

If there were to be a zombie apocalypse would humans survive? “Just from talking to my brother, the way he puts it is, ‘do you want to spend months dehydrated, sleeping in funny positions, in funny places? or would you rather get a bite early and then go on the winning side and not worry about anything?” says Migliore.

“Just be careful out there, you never know who is going to be a zombie.”

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