By Heather Kuch
Sometimes considered one of the most haunted colleges in America, Ohio Wesleyan has a wide variety of spirits worth investigating, and this is exactly what the OWU Paranormal Research Society aims to do.
Many of the buildings at OWU are rumored to have their own personal ghosts.
These include Sanborn Hall, Hayes, Welch, Stuyvesant, University Hall, Edwards Gymnasium, Beeghly Library and Hamilton Williams Campus Center.
Two of the most notable stories include the sealed room in Stuyvesant and the mysterious girl in Beeghly Library.
The sealed room dates back to the 1950’s when it was rumored a female student living in a ground floor room stopped attending classes and wasn’t heard from for nearly a week.
Then one night other residents of the hall heard screams and found the woman rocking back and forth on the floor of her room and talking incoherently, except to say that someone or something was out to get her.
Since the incident, students have continuously reported unusual occurrences and dark shadows moving around the walls in the building.
In Beeghly Library, a student worker has reported seeing a girl on multiple occasions who appeared to be a student and who disappeared when approached. Upon further research he believed she was a former student who died in 2005.
John Ciochetty, an OWU Public Safety officer and advisor to the society, is known on campus for his interest in the paranormal and for his books, “The Ghosts of Stuyvesant Hall and Beyond,” volumes 1 and 2.
His interest has also motivated him to investigate the rumored hauntings on campus, which eventually lead to the formation of the OWU Paranormal Research Society.
Ciochetty said the group is the not the first at OWU, that there was originally a society which formed due to sightings of a woman near Monnett Hall.
“This group is the second of its kind at OWU,” Ciochetty said.
“The first one was started at Monnett Hall in the 1850’s. The group was referred to as The Monnett Hall Paranormal Research Society for Women.
“The Society was formed due to incidents where the apparition of a woman was seen several times at the top/head of the main staircase, outdoors at the main entrance leading into Monnett Hall and in other areas of the building.”
Ciochetty said the society’s interest in the paranormal was furthered by “The Banshee Scare of 1896” which also occurred in Monnett Hall.
“According to the university archives, The Banshee Scare of 1896 caused much alarm and concern to the college administration,” Ciochetty said.
“The Banshee could be heard screaming from the basement level near the main elevator. The ladies and faculty never walked that area alone.”
Monnett Hall was torn down in the mid 1970’s, but Ciochetty said its location is still believed to be haunted and has been the site of recent investigations.
“The area where (Monnett) once stood is quite haunted,” Ciochetty said. “On May 2, 1979, The Transcript sponsored a visit to the Monnett site by the Psychic Science Institute, a group which investigates such phenomena.
“They have been featured on various television programs and in newspapers throughout the state. The haunting incidents have been verified as fact.”
The new OWU Paranormal Research Society gained its official status on Oct. 5.
Junior Quinn Rader-Morse, a member of the Student Board of Directors for the organization, said forming the society was a multi-year process.
“Several friends and I were interested in forming this organization since our freshman year in the fall of 2010,” Rader-Morse said.
“We finally approached the Student Involvement Office and decided to apply to become a recognized organization this year, and none of us expected there to be as many students interested in joining as showed up to our first meeting.”
Rader-Morse said the club consists of over 20 members who meet to talk about their personal accounts of the paranormal.
“So far, our meetings have consisted in sharing stories of paranormal activity experienced personally by members, as well as other tales of spiritual happenings,” Rader-Morse said.
Ciochetty said the society aims to investigate and explore areas on and around OWU’s campus and to try to find explanations for unusual happenings.
He said each investigation requires the society to do prior research and to remain objective about the site of an investigation.
“It is essential to take others’ at their word and assume that some form of paranormal activity is occurring,” Ciochetty said. “During the investigation, it’s is essential to keep an open mind, but at the same time remain skeptical.”
Ciochetty said their investigations rely heavily on evidence to determine if the cause of unusual activity is due to the paranormal or not.
“It is the goal of the group to collect as much evidence as possible and identify other possible explanations (environment and human) as to the cause for the phenomena to occur,” Ciochetty said.
“This way, we could see if the presumed haunting could be explained away or debunked. If we find that no other explanations which could explain away the phenomena, then it is very possible that a haunting is happening.
Rader-Morse said the club plans to investigate as many of the rumored haunted sites on campus as possible, as well as other sites surrounding campus.
“Nearly every major building on campus has been reported to have some kind of spirit activity with the exception of the science center and Hamilton-Williams,” Rader-Morse said.
Ciochetty said the club collects their evidence through the use of digital and analog recorders, video cameras, night vision digital cameras and other electronic devices.
Rader-Morse said the use of these electronic devices has allowed him to capture some potential paranormal evidence in various locations on campus.
“In the past, I have caught several EVPs (phenomena that include unexplained voices or sounds on audio devices) on campus, notably Stuyvesant Hall and Beeghly Library,” Rader-Morse said. “Unfortunately, they were recorded on my old phone and lost when it was taken in to be fixed.”
Rader-Morse said it is difficult to conclude whether or not the evidence he and other society members have found are truly paranormal.
“I’m not sure whether or not I or any of our members has necessarily proven or not proven anything yet in regards to the paranormal,” Rader-Morse said.
“This is a particularly tricky thing to do, as there is much skepticism in regards to the very existence of spirits and other paranormal entities. As such, it can be very difficult to prove the existence of something as elusive and immaterial as the paranormal.”
Despite the lack of absolute proof, several students have no doubt there is paranormal activity occurring on this campus.
Junior Cassie Fowler said she has personally experienced incidents she believes to be the result of paranormal activity.
“I really do believe that this campus is haunted especially because I have witnessed some really creepy things in Stuy,” Fowler said. “My freshman year I took a picture in my friend’s room in Stuy and there was a weird floating ball of light right next to me that didn’t show up in any other pictures. I also was in the basement of Stuy and there was no one else down there when I saw something dart across the room and then I heard a big bang from the wall. I would definitely be interested to go on one of the investigations because I think it would be neat to see what they find.”
Junior Katie Fain agreed with Fowler and said she would like to go on one of the investigations because she finds the paranormal interesting.
“I think it would be cool to investigate one of the buildings on campus because that kind of stuff interests me and I think having this organization on campus is a good idea,” Fain said. “It appeals to the interests of many students and because this campus is haunted.”
Freshman Lilly Gresh also agreed and said she believes that OWU is truly haunted, and she would like to learn more about the paranormal happenings on campus.
“I think it would be cool to go on the investigations of the haunted parts of campus especially since I like scary and mysterious stuff,” Gresh said. “I really think that this campus is haunted so I think having an organization dedicated to investigating these hauntings is a really good idea.”
Senior Ashley Haynes said she has never had anything happen to her and she doesn’t believe OWU’s campus is haunted.
“I’m a skeptic and I believe that there is always an alternative explanation,” Haynes said. “I’m not saying that weird things don’t happen here, I just don’t believe that there are ghosts causing them.”
“I think the society is an interesting concept and I would be curious to see what they find, but it would be difficult to convince me.”
Rader-Morse said the club is a place for people with interests in the paranormal to come and share their own viewpoints while hearing what others believe and learning about OWU’s history.
“I have been intrigued by the paranormal and its implications for a long time, and wanted to give other students with the same interests a place to express their opinions and beliefs, as well as a chance to investigate spiritual activity,” Rader-Morse.
“This organization can also give students a look at different aspects of Delaware’s history, as well as that of Ohio Wesleyan, that are often ignored or forgotten by many people.”