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Hall Capacity: 150 Beds, 151 Souls: Ghosts In the Halls

Every campus, it seems, has its own anthology of ghost stories. They are passed from student to student — often resident to resident — weaving tales that tell the horrors of campus tragedies. The stories are most often staged in residence halls, and for good reason. A haunted chem lab or lecture hall? Meh, no big deal. A haunted residence hall? Now that’s creepy.

I completed both of my degrees at Ohio University, a campus often referred to as the most haunted in the country. While I likely can’t tell you much I learned in Econ 103 my first year, I can still regale you with the alleged haunts of most residence halls on campus — the basketball team that dribbles balls in Washington on East Green, the old mental asylum, the locked room in Wilson Hall on West Green deemed uninhabitable after the death of a student and subsequent reports of mysterious activity. It’s probably not surprising given my own campus history and my love of story-telling that I’ve managed to find the ghost stories on each campus where I’ve worked.

Last week I sent out a call on Twitter for campus residence hall ghost stories. Paul Miller of University of Delaware shared the tale of Warner Hall, where a female student allegedly hanged herself. In an effort to help the community move forward, the site was repaired and blocked off quickly. But maybe too quickly… University of Delaware lore the spirit isn’t at rest and she disturbs the building with a repeated thudding noise, trying to draw residents to find her.

Amy Boyle of Loyola University New Orleans told the tales of Buddig Hall, where the students were so unnerved by faucets turning themselves on and off and doors slamming without cause, the director at the time requested a Jesuit blessing of the building (more to calm the nerves of current residents, he said, than the spirits). As students are wont to do, they elaborated the story, referring to the blessing an exorcism, which didn’t help the rumors. As recently as two years ago, students were spooked when a woman disappeared from an elevator in the time it took the doors to shut and reopen without the elevator moving floors.

As the stories continue to grow and change on campuses, they invite some excellent programming and community development opportunities — haunted tours of buildings are common. Another favorite is inviting the university archivist or historian to come share what they know about the tales, in some cases fueling the stories and in others dispelling them.

 

What are your campus ghost stories? How do you leverage them for community building? 

Operating With The Influence

Soon, there may be a lot of college towns with excess 4 Loko on hand…what to do with those florescent cans of 12% alcohol and enough caffeine to awaken a thousand sleeping sophomores?

It turns out the stuff can be recycled into ethanol and blended into gasoline. That mixture can be used to power a car. Presumably, this tincture will operate just as any other gasoline does, and it won’t inspire your car to topple garbage cans, hoot “woo-HOO!” at 3 a.m., or run other cars off the road.

Broken Resolutions

The holidays are officially behind us! Semester break is winding down. The residential life staff is busy finalizing the last preparations before the new semester begins. The residence halls will soon be filled with laughter, music, and chatter.

The week prior to the residents’ arrival will be filled with anticipation, excitement, stress, and preparation. Individuals will feel that he or she has no time in the day to complete all the “necessary to-dos.” Individuals will feel that he or she is running in circles not knowing what should make the “priority to-do list.” With all this commotion, New Year Resolutions have been made and broken by now.

As individuals, we need to take a step back and remember those moments that we experienced just a few weeks ago of spending time with family and friends. The moments of being stress-free, laughing until your stomach aches, smiles, and enjoying the simple pleasures in life. With words of great experience my grandmother used to always remind me at times like these, “relax, breathe, live and savor each moment; for each moment could develo into opportunities of grace and love.”

Happy New Year everyone!

Happy Holidays from ACUHO-I!

Editor’s Note: We close 2010 with this post, but will resume publishing after the new year. Our blog stories were read more than 27,000 times in 2010. Our heartfelt thanks to all those readers as well as everyone who authored a post or comment. Look for continued improvements and more writers in 2011.

As college students around the country head home for the holidays, ideas are popping up across the Internet for dealing with finals stress, buying gifts for undergrads, managing the holiday homecoming, and more.

This article from the Deerfield TribLocal looks at creative student approaches for dealing with the stress of finals at Lake Forest College, outside of Chicago. Stress-busting suggestions include a “Silent Dance Party” held in the library, a “Play Date Study Break” complete with finger-painting and snacks, and a “Late Night Breakfast” served by staff and faculty. CitiTownInfo.com contributes a few more ideas recently implemented on college campuses, including a rubber ball drop, petting zoos and oxygen bars.

The Huffington Post College Blog explores both good and bad gifts for college students, and offers cheap gift ideas for college students (or, ahem, grad students) who’ve procrastinated on their Christmas shopping in favor of cramming for finals. Just in time for the new year, they’ve also compiled an inspiring list of the top 10 college role models of 2010.  WalletPop adds some additional gift ideas for tech-savvy students at a range of prices.

And from the Merced Sun-Star comes a round-up of tips for managing conflicts at home as students return for the first long break since the beginning of the school year. Wondering why the vacation for college students is so long? Slate Magazine offers an interesting historical look at winter break all the way back to the mid-13th century!

Any suggestions from members on how to reduce stress for students and staff around the winter holidays? Or must-have gifts on your campus this year?

Halloween Res Life Style

By now — for better or worse — the Halloween madness has settled down on our campuses. Still, I haven’t been able to forget a comment one of my graduate students recently made: “Res Life sucks the fun out of Halloween.”

I have to admit, I laughed upon hearing this at first, but then I realized how true that statement can sometimes be.

Before I worked in res life, I managed to find something fun to do for Halloween pretty much every year – whether it be dressing up and trick-or-treating as a kid, dressing up and attending Halloween parties as a teenager, or just dressing up because it was Halloween (yeah, I’m big on the costumes – or at least I used to be).

And then the first Halloween that I was an RA, I was supposed to go see Rocky Horror with some friends. Instead, as they came to pick me up, I had to cancel – I was already outside because we were in the middle of a fire alarm – with an actual fire. Every year after that, I would just wait for the pranks, loud residents, and obnoxious behavior that inevitably accompanied the holiday. Want to spice it up with some new door decs or a new bulletin board? Fantastic – spend hours of your time and energy and then someone would come and tear it all down in a matter of minutes – just because they could. Call me jaded, but I think my grad is right – res life does suck the fun out of Halloween.

But then there’s the other side of things – every year, we invite children from all over the community to come to our halls and trick-or-treat. And sure, there’s always your mom or kid who’s a little too greedy or unimpressed with our efforts, and there’s almost always a student who does something in front of the kids that makes you cringe. But there’s also all those residents who are taking time out of their evening, and who took their money to go buy Halloween candy and distribute it to all these kids they don’t even know. And there are all these kids just in awe of the “big kids” in the halls. And you know that at least some of them are hoping they’ll be in the shoes of those college students some day.

So yeah – all the planning and worry and stress behind Halloween can suck. But it’s hard to deny how cute those little kids are in their costumes when they come stomping up to the halls yelling “Trick-or-Treat!”

So how was Halloween on your campus this year? Share your stories in the comments section below.

Sing Along 2: The Drug Policy Song

Woe is the one-hit wonder. They arrive with a flash, but then disappear just as quickly never to be heard again.

But Ryan Sequin — he of the world (well, at least student affairs world) famous “Alcohol Policy Song” is doing his best to avoid the sophomore slump. The Central Michigan University senior RA is back with “The Drug Policy Song;” a natural progression for his repertoire. Enjoy and, as always, share your comments below.

Drinking Song

Okay. This is a too-much-fun take on an otherwise serious subject: the campus alcohol policy. Sent in to ACUHO-I by Joan Schmidt, the Associate Director of Residence Life at Central Michigan University, it’s The Alcohol Policy Song and it is, well, a song spelling out the rules and ramifications of underage students who choose to imbibe in the residence halls.

Full credit for this ditty goes to CMU resident assistant Ryan Sequin. The senior, originally from Bay City, Michigan, has captured a mixture of The Smiths and Sesame Street as he croons couplets like:

Don’t drink in the halls, if you’re not yet 21 / It’s Michigan law / I’m not trying to ruin your fun.
But if you’re underage, and I see you with a drink / I must ask that you pour it down the sink
You run the risk of a fine or a MRD / But either way, I have to tell the RHD.

Oh, and be sure to stick around for the shout-out to Canadians as well.

Listen to and download The Alcohol Policy Song here. Then share your comments below.

To Be Worthy of Ridicule!

ACUHO-I is mentioned in this Cronk of Higher Education article about conference romances. If there’s anyone out there mourning an Annual Conference romance (or friendship, or fling), perhaps this piece will be soothing:

ACUHO-I Conference Romance Ends Abruptly

If you feel like you didn’t represent yourself well, this article may be helpful:

Blistex Executive Makes Fool of Himself at Lip-Balm Conference

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

I saw that on a bumper sticker this morning and liked it.

It made me think a recent interview of Anthony Bourdain. You’re likely familiar with Bourdain. He’s the “bad boy” chef who has defected from the Food Channel, insulted various food celebrities including Rachel Ray (I happen to agree with him on that; I mean, Ritz crackers may be edible, but they are not food) and sneered at vegetarians. His Travel Channel show, No Reservations, features Bourdain journeying to exotic places, eating the local grub, and  having an epiphany by the end of the episode. It’s entertaining, fascinating and positively pornographic for foodies.

Whatever your opinions on Bourdain are, he’s at least given you good grounds for them; he’s forthcoming on any topic.

In this interview, Bourdain seems to have mellowed a bit (Though lately he’s been involved in a war of words with GQ food writer Alan Richman, so maybe not.) He discusses the value of being wrong, including about yourself. This really struck a chord with me. What about you?

Ramen O’ Rama

Thanks to the excellent time-waster site Gizmodo, we now know about i-Ramen, the website documenting one man’s eating and evaluation of thousands of varieties and brands of instant noodles.  The site is in Japanese (the link above heads to the Google-translated site, which is comprehensible if a bit uneven), so while the author’s name is likely listed in the Japanese text that also serves as an image, I couldn’t find it in the translated text. If anyone out there can read Japanese, let me know who he (or she) is. The reviews evaluate Ramen the way wine is often considered: “moderate sweetness, strong stimulation of pepper,” reads one entry.

That’s Snow Business…

The snowpocalypse! Snowmaggedon! Whatever you wanted to call it, the storm that moved through the United States late last week certainly gathered it’s share of headlines. Now it’s time to reflect back and share how we weathered the storm.

Use the comment section to share stories about the antics that your sledding (or stir-crazy) students came up with to pass the time other than watching the Weather Channel radar. Tell us how you and your campus managed Mother Nature’s wrath. How did this storm stack up to ones from the past? (Reminiscing about past blizzards will be allowed.)

And for those who work at campuses where words like “snow emergency” are foreign concepts, we graciously ask you to please keep your comments about “mid-60s and sunny” to yourself. If we have to have the snow, we’re at least allowed to vent about it a bit.

You can even e-mail us photos of your campus scenes if you like. Let the flurry of comments begin!


“Fair is Fowl and Fowl is Fair”

Our apologies to Mr. Wm. Shakespeare for our appropriation of his quote from Macbeth, Act I, Scene I. It seemed so apropos, however, because there’s been quite a few bird-related stories on campuses lately. Check these out:

Fluff-Up at Reed College Over Chicken Dinner During one week at the beginning of spring semester, Reed students can offer and take brief no-credit courses on any topic of interest — striptease, pool, or chokin’ the chicken. No, not that kind of chicken-choking; get your minds out of the gutter! A college senior who raises chickens for eggs and meat, proposed to demonstrate how one of the birds is slaughtered and dressed for dinner. Some students and organizations raised a ruckus, however, because of their distress that ” Reed students are taking part in the killing of live animals.” (I’ve heard it’s really hard to kill dead animals, though.) The course was ultimately canceled.

A Wily Chicken at Glendale Community College An apparently unnamed black chicken at Glendale Community college poses for pictures and accepts food from student fans. But when animal control stops by, he or she (they’re not sure which), crosses the road–natch!–and evades capture.

Turkey Overstays Her Welcome at Harvard Business School This is so ripe for jokes, I’ll let you think of them yourself. Nicknamed Turk Turkee, the wild bird was initially welcomed into the Harvard community, but her esprit de corps is lacking; attempts to roust her from napping in the dean’s garden (a favorite spot) results in pecks and snaps. Her, um, fowl-ness seems to increase when observers don’t offer food. She’s also vain; she’ll stare at herself in the clean, reflective windows of the business school buildings for hours. Some students find her cranky presence entertaining; others have created an “HBS Students FOR THE REMOVAL OF THE TURKEY” Facebook group. Massachusetts state laws regarding wild turkeys make her removal problematic.

Concordia College Chicken Put to Work A poster on Inside HigherEd offered up this chicken story, with a happy ending (for the college and the chicken). “Rocky,” a small, white hen, selected Concordia College as her home in the summer of 2009. Unlike Turk Turkee, Rocky was a good ambassador, welcoming students to campus in the fall and amassing a number of fans. But as winter neared, Concordia officials worried for Rocky’s safety; they also feared a larger predator would make a chicken dinner of her. So they found her a new home, where Rocky can continue her public relations work in safety.

Has your campus adopted an animal, avian or otherwise? Tell us about it!