Staff Writer — Sam Landstra, Guest Writer — Micah Postma
MICAH POSTMA: In the rural town of Sioux Center, Iowa, there isn’t a lot to do at night, much less on a Sunday. Most all restaurants and stores lock their doors before midnight. And yet, a small group of Dordt University students have found a way to fill this void- with the game Fugitive. Reporter Sam Landstra takes us to the scene.
LANDSTRA: The 10:00 toll of the Dordt University clock tower summons a group of students to its base. Dressed in all black, they’re here to play fugitive, a nocturnal twist on the game cops and robbers.
Last year, sophomore Payton Kooi began the Sunday night tradition.
KOOI: Back at home we would play this game with a bunch of friends. Like second week of Dordt last year Joseph Kamstra said ‘hey, let’s play Fugitive here. You think we can get enough people?’ We got enough people
LANDSTRA: Kooi is joined by Caleb Schreurs.
SCHREURS: The way I see it, I’m kind of the local guy so I have a lot of connections here. I know a lot of people that went here, a lot of them came from my high school and other high schools in the area. So, I was able to get the word out to my core group of friends.
LANDSTRA: Schreurs and Kooi announce game times on Instagram with the official @fugitivesofdordt account. Tonight, the slowly growing group reaches 20. In previous games, numbers climbed over 50. The midnight madness welcomes newcomers and regulars alike. At 10:15, Schreurs explains the rules.
SCHREURS: We are going to divide us into two different groups. One group is going to have about 2/3 of the people in it, one group is going to have about 1/3. The larger group are the runners. The other third is the chasers. We are going to set two different points. Point A and Point B. So, for example we would say start at clock tower, end at Covenant doors. If you get tagged, you’re out. There are no boundaries you can go wherever you want. In buildings, out of buildings, over buildings, under buildings, through buildings. You can go off campus as far as you want. Whatever it takes to get to the end.
LANDSTRA: The only rule? No wheels.
The distinct lack of regulations in Fugitive leads to an interesting relationship with the law. Sneaking through lawns isn’t encouraged but it is a good way to win the game.
KOOI: A lot of the things that happen are on the borderline of legality. We do not condone or recommend anything that would be breaking Dordt’s policies or the law. However, we also are not going to hold you accountable to that.
LANDSTRA: Last year, Kooi had a clash with an angry gardener.
KOOI: One time we were running through the back of the new homestead area and the gardener came out and was super upset because I think three weeks in a row, we had run through his flowers and he was heated about it.
This game is really just an honor system. Like, it you’re going to be an idiot, that’s your fault.
LANDSTRA: With run ins like this considered, Fugitive isn’t an official club or affiliated with Dordt in any manner.
The game begins. The first round is from the clock tower to the Dordt sign on the northwest end of campus. I’m a runner.
SCHREURS: Five, four, three, two, one, and we’re off
LANDSTRA: The runners fan out into the dark campus like a silent riot. I take a longer route, running behind the Campus Center and up along the edge of the Science Building.
The whistled tune of Can You Hear the People Sing from echoes throughout the desolate maintenance lot. This feels like a revolution. I duck behind electrical boxes and creep along walls. Others dart through bushes. Staying invisible, sneaking closer.
I reach the West Hall parking lot, the end point in sight, guarded by chasers patrolling the area.
5 steps forward. Stop. Peek over car. All clear.
5 steps forward. Stop. My shadow moves across the vehicles.
A chaser looks in my direction. I quickly duck down, my face pressed against the asphalt.
All Clear. 5 steps forward.
I see a window, a clear path, and make my run- a 50 yard sprint to freedom.
I make it.
I’m not the first, either. The end point is filled with runners, some safe, some tagged. They tell of their experiences to each other.
FUGITIVE PLAYER: I stepped on so many things I don’t even know what’s on the bottom of my feet right now
LANDSTRA: The first round nears completion as final runners trickle in. Schreurs takes a head count and designates the next set of chasers.
SCHREURS: My favorite part of the game? Oh man, there’s some people that come out for this that I don’t see any other times during the week. It’s just part of the small underground growing Dordt grunge culture I like to call it. It’s a good group of people.
LANDSTRA: Kooi agrees.
KOOI: You get to enjoy hanging out with some of your friends and meet a few new folks along the way too. And besides, what better thing is there to do at 10pm on a Sunday? Sin?
LANDSTRA: For the Dordt Diamond, I’m Sam Landstra.