We're not alone
Some students believe UB has a haunting past
Martin Moskovits, a dean at University of California, Santa Barbara, fields questions Tuesday afternoon in Capen Hall. Moskovits was the third and final candidate interviewed to be UBs next provost. Image Contributor
Pentagram chalk drawings on the wall. A desk. A chair. A blue ball of light.
After ducking under the ceiling and crawling beyond the pipes, this scene awaited UB's Paranormal Activity Research Association (UB PARA) in the basement of O'Brian Hall.
It wasn't the first time UB PARA worried there was a demonic presence on campus.
The group, which investigates buildings on North and South Campus, believes UB is haunted.
"There's just something not right about this place," said Andrew Schop, a sophomore business major and treasurer of UB PARA.
Ghosts or not, some feel UB has a spooky past.
Before the university bought the land between Main Street and Bailey Avenue, the property housed the Erie County Almshouse and County Hospital.
According to Erie County records, UB bought the land in 1909 and formally integrated it into the school in 1919. In the 1920s, the school continued moving students in and patients out.
Hayes Annex D, Hayes, Wende and Townsend Halls were originally used by the hospital to house patients and staff. Now they serve as classrooms, laboratories and libraries for the students on South Campus.
The hospital used South Campus land for a cemetery.
In March, construction on Clement Road discovered approximately 300 skeletal remains.
According to Joseph Brennan, the associate vice president for University Communications, some asylum patients didn't have families to contact postmortem and were buried on the property.
In some cases, patients of insane asylumswere identified by numbers and were forgotten.
Schop believes because of the pervasive sadness in insane asylums, there are a lot of restless spirits who inhabit the area - even the dorms.
"Over the summer, before anyone moved in, I was putting up door decorations and it felt like people were here," said Usamah Afzal, a sophomore chemical engineering major and Goodyear Hall resident adviser.
At the time, only the RAs were allowed in the building.
In Wende 114, UB PARA claims to have seen two shadow figures sitting in each corner of the stadium seating-style lecture hall.
Schop said he shined his flashlight in that direction, and the apparition disappeared. When he stopped, it came back.
Hauntings have been reported throughout South Campus, but the hotspot is Harriman Hall, according to UB PARA.
"Flashlights turn on and off on command when we ask them to," said Nicole Davis, a senior anthropology major and club president. "The [radar] will spin. I've never had such rapid responses as I have on South Campus."
The experiences on North Campus have been comparable.
UB PARA said by using an Apple application called Ghost Radar, they were able to communicate with a ghost in a classroom in the basement of O'Brian this semester.
Words relating to the medical profession consistently appeared on their devices, so they named the spirit "Nurse Sally" and continued to communicate with her until recently.
"Last time some words were 'get out' and 'angry,'" Schop said. "And on that side of the room, there was a dark presence."
The club members feared that if they stayed, the spirit would become "attached" to one of the students.
According to Schop, spirits like this one are "more tied to the occult." They're only interested in destroying the life around it, he said. The treasurer warned all to stay away.
This wasn't the first time UB PARA abandoned a mission.
While exploring Clemens Hall, the group said they experienced a powerful feeling of depression and angst and said it became physically harder to breathe.
The students left immediately.
UB PARA believes during construction in the 1970s, a worker fell down the middle elevator shaft and died; however, no documentation for the accident was found.
According to Schop, the club can only speculate the origin of the hauntings because of a lack of information.
Davis credited some mystery to UB and said she believes the school may have chosen to withhold a few tragic reports from the public.
Some students, however, feel this makes the sightings, or claim of sightings, unbelievable.
"I wish there were ghosts here on campus, but I haven't seen any or heard of anything," said Xiao Zheng, a junior electrical engineering major.
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