Real life Ghostbusters
UB PARA hunts for the paranormal
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
A seemingly lifeless box emitted a single word: “Georgia.”
Students and ghost investigators huddled around a “ghost box,” a device that cycles through AM radio channels, as they believed the word was a paranormal response to their question “Where are you from?”
According to the UB Paranormal Activity Research Association (UB PARA), this was only one of many encounters they had with ghosts around North and South Campus.
The group is a temporary club in the Student Association. Members have been ghost hunting around campus for the last two years, and although they share a love of the paranormal, members’ curiosity has been peaked by different motives.
In the instance with the “ghost box,” the club went on an investigation of South Campus with Beyond Ghosts, a local ghost-hunting group.
They were in an empty classroom, which had a heavy door, an elaborate locking device and walls that tier down to a drain at the center of the room.
Most students don’t wander UB with iPhones and Maglite flashlights in hand, waiting for a blip on their ghost radar application or their Maglites to flicker on and off.
The members of UB PARA aren’t most students.
“I guess you can compare it to soccer because you are just kind of sitting there waiting and waiting and waiting,” said Nicole Davis, a senior anthropology major and the club’s president. “Some people might think that’s boring, but when there’s a goal, everyone goes crazy.”
Andrew Schop, a sophomore business management major and club treasurer, has been interested in the supernatural since he was a kid. He said his first paranormal encounter came when he was 8 years old. His family was invited to a bonfire out in the woods, and he wandered from the fire while playing hide and seek.
“I hear something behind me and I’m not sure what it is so I turn around,” Schop said. “And I look and I see this giant black shadow. It’s not human, it’s not animal, I’m not sure what it was and it’s reaching out to grab me. So I was like ‘I’m done’ and bolted back and just spent the whole night by the fire.”
Schop has a unique view on ghosts even compared to other members of the club. He said he had multiple encounters with ghosts, including one he believes attached itself to his brother.
Schop said one of the previous owners of Schop’s home was contacting his brother through his dreams. The previous owner had a brother who looked similar to Schop’s and was attempting to contact him because of his familiar features, according to Schop.
That experience still stays with him.
Davis also has a lot of experience with the paranormal. Since she was a little girl, her grandmother encouraged her to believe in and pursue paranormal occurences.
In her freshman year, she was invited to go on ghost investigations with a local group. Then she co-founded UB PARA.
Although Schop and Davis have backgrounds in the paranormal, not all the club members do. Senior environmental engineering major and Vice President Liz Hennessy came to UB with almost no first-hand paranormal experience.
Hennessy enjoys the sciences and dealing with facts, but she also enjoys things that cannot be proven or disproven. Because of her engineering background, she tends to lean more toward paranormal occurrences that have to do with UFOs or zoology. She also enjoys the spiritual facet because she can experience it first hand.
“With spiritual paranormal stuff, there are so many stories that you hear and photos and footage that you see that doesn’t have an immediate way to debunk it on first investigation,” Hennessy said. “I like the idea of being able to go myself and personally see how everything is done, what tools are being used and what people are actually experiencing.”
The club regularly hosts ghost investigations. They walk the grounds of North and South Campus looking for spiritual activity.
Some hotspots for ghosts include Clemens Hall, Harriman Hall, Hayes Hall and the basement of O’Brian Hall, according to the club members.
The members said they found the ghosts first and later discovered related urban legends.
They start their investigations around 8 p.m. on various days and will be out as late as 12 a.m., depending on how much activity they find. They will spend as little as 20 minutes in one place before moving on if they do not get any readings but are willing to stay longer if they find a responsive spirit.
The club recognizes a difference between human spirits and other malicious spirits that want to hurt people.
“When there’s a spirit and it’s human and it’s a ghost, you want to help it,” Schop said. “You want to say, ‘Go to the light, you’re dead, you need to move on.’ When it’s something more demonic, more tied to the occult, it’s not human and based on lore and mythology. They’re not interested in being helped, just hurting people.”