As Stony Brook University (SBU) and the rest of the world bought copious amounts of hand sanitizer and toilet paper, one man traded his N95 mask for something a little less clinical, and a little more … heroic.
SBU WallCrawler is a popular figure around campus: our friendly SBU Spider-Man.
Donning his non-insulated, one-piece Spider-Man suit, he interacts with students around campus, taking pictures and giving high-fives. WallCrawler also uses social media to share positive messages to spread hope and joy among the campus community.
“I’m trying my best to create a fun little thing in the community,” WallCrawler said. “I want people to be like, ‘yeah, that Spider-Man guy is so weird,’ and hopefully put a smile on their faces, especially in the crazy world we live in right now.”
A senior majoring in web design (haha, get it?), WallCrawler has been a Spider-Man fan for as long as he can remember, citing the original Tobey Maguire movies as his favorites. His love for Spider-Man was a large part of why he took on this role.
“I love the message behind his character. He’s just a regular guy, helping his neighborhood, helping the little guy. I wanted to spread some of that joy to Stony,” WallCrawler said.
The current man behind the mask is not the first SBU Spider-Man, and hopefully, he won’t be the last. The original WallCrawler graduated in the spring of 2020, before handing off the baton and transferring all of his social media accounts to the next student.
As the current WallCrawler prepares to graduate this spring, he also hopes to find the next Peter Parker to take over when he’s gone. Closer to the end of the semester, he plans on posting on his social media, asking for someone to continue the tradition.
However, being Spider-Man, as history has shown, can take its toll, and WallCrawler was not immune to the worries that plagued Peter One, Peter Two and Peter Three.
“During the pandemic, when school was virtual, this definitely kept me occupied. But, I developed an unhealthy relationship with it, paying too much attention to who was following me, and posting a lot of memes which eventually added up,” WallCrawler said.
Instead, he now tries to post less, but produces more positive content, leaning away from generic posts and instead aims to help the people who visit his accounts.
“To me, he’s just a massive source of positivity,” said junior chemistry major Nabeel Farrukh. “You see his Instagram, and he’s always encouraging and wholesome and tells us to always put our best foot forward. You can tell he definitely encourages mental health awareness, too.”
According to WallCrawler, besides posting on social media, his favorite thing to do as Spider-Man is going out and interacting with students. “I loved rolling out to midnight breakfast last semester. I wish I had more time to do that, because that’s the most fun I have when I’m doing this weird thing, and I feel like I’m having a genuine impact,” he said.
The campus community has definitely felt his impact. “I love seeing the guy around,” said freshman biology major Shaheryar Ahmad, “even if I’m having a bad day, it’s something to smile about.”
Even Rick Gateau, the vice president of Student Affairs, said that he is a big fan of SBU WallCrawler, despite not knowing his identity.
“He is high energy, spirited and motivational — and has a wonderful sense of humor. He has done an incredible job building spirit, pride and community on Stony Brook’s campus through his creative videos and posts. What’s even more amazing is that he has accomplished this under the cover of a fictional character. I hope that someday his identity will be revealed so I can personally thank him for making a big difference in the lives of so many seawolves,” Gateau said.
According to WallCrawler, besides helping students, his role as Spider-Man has also helped him considerably.
“I’m a fairly introverted dude. So this has definitely helped me burst out of my shell a bit. When I put the costume on, I feel like I’m more outgoing,” WallCrawler said.
However, the suit, while empowering, is not always convenient. According to WallCrawler, the one-piece can be difficult to get on, hard to use the bathroom in, and freezing during the winter. Despite this, our friendly SBU Spiderman continues to persist in his efforts to bring smiles to the faces of those around him and hopes that others will do the same.
“Try to make it your mission to brighten at least one person’s day every day. Not only will it lift that person up, but it’ll make you feel better too,” WallCrawler said in a message to the SBU community. “Something as simple as complimenting their hair/style might be a simple act to you, but it could make that person’s day. Be kind to each other, seawolves.”