Need something to do this Halloween? Try spotting a ghost on campus. Nearly every college has at least one ghost story and many colleges have reports of numerous ghosts, both friendly and not-so-friendly. Below are some famous ghosts that haunt both old and new universities.
Oliver Cromwell, Lord Proctor of England following the English Civil War, is one of the most hated men in English history. Following his death, his body was dug up and beheaded. His head first stood on a pike at Westminster Abbey and eventually travelled throughout England before coming to Cambridge University, the second oldest university in England. To this day, reports say his head can sometimes be seen floating about campus and peering into classrooms, searching for the rest of his body.
Oxford, the second oldest university in the world, has had many years to accumulate numerous ghosts. King Charles I, the beheaded king overthrown during the English Civil War, has been seen wandering the campus with and without his head. One of King Charles' commanders, executed at Oxford, is also known to haunt the college along with a student who committed suicide, a clergyman named Cuthbert Shield, and the twin boys of the Bishop of Liverpool, founder of St. Peter's College in Oxford. There are also several other ghosts, making Oxford one of the most haunted colleges in the world.
Gettysburg College is located in the same city as the deadliest battle of the Civil War and served as an infirmary for wounded soldiers. Naturally, the school is populated with ghost tales, mostly featuring soldiers. Students have reported seeing soldier at various locations around campus. The most terrifying, reported by both students and two administrators on different occasions, occurred in the elevator of Pennsylvania Hall. The elevator, instead of stopping on the first floor, went to the basement, where witnesses saw dying men lying on the ground, surrounded by frantic doctors and nurses clearly from the Civil War.
UC Berkeley is home to Sather Tower, the third tallest bell and clock tower in the world. Unfortunately, tall structures can become what are known as "attractive hazards" to students who may be suicidal. In 1961, a sophomore named John Patterson jumped from the observation tower and died, becoming the second suicide at Sather Tower. Metal anti-suicide rails have since been added, but the ghost of Patterson has been spotted several times in and around the tower. A photographer once even captured a ghostly hand reaching out of the ground below the tower.
California State University (CSU) Channel Islands, which opened in 2002, is built on the same site as The Camarillo State Mental Hospital, an asylum famous for paranormal activity. During construction, workers complained of missing tools and strange noises. Additionally, large equipment would move during off-hours. Today several of the dorms and classrooms are reported to be haunted, though it seems to have decreased since the closing of the asylum in 1997.
Flager College, located in St. Augustine, North America's oldest city, is home to several spirits. One freshman and her roommate report a woman in black that would watch her fall asleep every night from the edge of her bed. A tour guide says when she discussed the life of Henry Flagler, the light over his portrait would flicker every time his name was said until the lights just went out. There is also the ghost of a boy who died after falling from a balcony in one of the dorm buildings. At night, stomping can be heard in the halls of Ponce, supposedly the boy continuing to play.
Ohio University is built on not one, but five cemeteries, making it one of the most haunted campuses in America. The worst haunting is in Wilson Hall. During the 1970s, in room 428, a girl violently died after practicing occult and attempting to summon dead spirits. For years afterwards, students in the room reported hearing strange noises and witnessing objects move on their own. Finally, the room was permanently sealed and deemed uninhabitable.
The former female residence hall, Strong Hall, at the University of Tennessee was built in memory of Sophronia Strong, known to students as Sophie. For decades students have reported sightings of Sophie. For the most part she is friendly ghost who enjoys playing pranks on the students, but when students fight or argue, Sophie is there to break it up. One particular room, dubbed Sophie's room, rates high on paranormal scales and students generally request a room transfer before the year is up.
During an influenza epidemic that struck Wells College, one of the rooms in the main building was used as a morgue. To warn students, the door was painted red. After the epidemic, they attempted to paint it back, but the red always seeped through. During another outbreak, two floors of the main building were again converted to infirmaries with nurses caring for sick students. A fire broke out and several of the nurses who tried to save the sick students perished. Students who come to the main building sick have reported visitations by these ghostly nurses who take their temperatures and stroke their hair.
Notre Dame football star George Gipp fell asleep outside one night in 1920 where he caught pneumonia, leading to a premature death. Rather than graduate, the ghost of George Gipp stuck around Notre Dame. Though usually a friendly ghost who plays pranks on students, Gipp is also known to push students in the stairway and play music loud into the night.
Even if you don't believe in ghosts or paranormal activity, it can be fun to learn about your school's haunted past. Try taking a tour of the most haunted sites on your campus and maybe come back with a good ghost story to pass on to future students.
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