By Alex H. Nagler
“I don’t know…they were all going about as they would normally, then some people started running around, screaming, flailing their arms. Then they all…stopped. It was weird.”
Campus Lifetime is normally the amalgamation of various clubs’ events and the only time the administration deems fit to hold “fests”, “stocks”, and “fairs.” April 30 should have been no different. CHILL had a table out to inform students of their services, there was free popcorn, stages were being assembled for what could have been the fifth Fiftieth Anniversary Party of the school year and a demonstration was being staged in protest of the acquittal of three NYPD officers. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until people started to freeze in place.
The frozen individuals were in fact engaging in a coordinated effort lead by Justin Wong. Justin got the idea from the New York City based group Improv Everywhere, who became internet-famous for their video, “Frozen at Grand Central.” In this video, approximately 200 people simultaneously froze in Grand Central Station, leading to confusion from those looking on and causing frustration for the employees of the Terminal. More amazing than the fact that they froze at the same time was the fact they held their positions for nearly five minutes and then simultaneously unfroze, drawing applause and cheers from the onlookers who had gathered to watch the frozen commuters.
Justin watched that video and thought, “Why not at Stony Brook?” Through the power of Facebook, Justin and a few friends sent out invites to people, who in turn sent out more invites. Soon, over three hundred people had RSVPed that they would be attending this event.
“When I realized how many people were going to be coming, I figured I had to speak with the administration and at least let them know what I was doing.” After speaking with an administration official, Justin was given an area in which he and those attending could freeze and told to stage everyone in the Mendelssohn Pit. Jokingly informing people of the official plan, he stated, “Yeah, we’re not going to follow that.”
Most people had a positive outlook on the event, noting that it was something creative, fun and a good way to spend a campus lifetime. One student commented, “It seems like such a cool idea and it’s something you wouldn’t expect to see at Stony Brook. I hope [Justin] does more events like this.”
The plan of attack was simple–divide the academic mall into three main groups and assign a commander for each area. The groups were the area in front of the SAC, the stretch between the Library and the Psychology buildings and the general location of the fountain. Each commander briefed the people who had wandered into their group as to what they would be doing, so that everything looked uniform when executed.
“Have fun. Get in line for popcorn and freeze. Ask someone a question and just stand there while they attempt to get you to acknowledge their answer. Mess with the setup for the thing later tonight. Just enjoy yourself.” These were the parting words Justin gave to the 100-odd people who showed up before they staggered their arrivals to the academic mall.
Once all the players were in place, Justin and his commanders set off the signal: they ran around screaming and flailing their arms. After ten seconds, they stopped; everyone was to hold their pose for five minutes and then unfreeze after seeing the same signal. The plan worked, annoying those stuck in line behind freezers and drawing crowds around those frozen in more interesting positions.
When everyone unfroze, observers gave the participants a round of applause for their efforts, impressed that students could actually organize and do something creative on this campus. Some observers didn’t realize they were standing next to frozen people. After certain a freezer, whose name rhymes with Shmalex Smache Schmagler, questioned them, an observer noted, “You were there this entire time?” Justin, encouraged by the turnout and excited at the prospect of doing more events, created a Facebook group to serve as an organizational tool, which can be found by searching Facebook groups for “Frozen Stony Brook.”