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Last updated:
October 11, 2002

UW-RF Professor Relates Campus Ghost Stories

College students reveling on Halloween night across the nation should beware the ghosts that college campuses harbor, and be on the lookout for icy hands on their shoulders, floorboards that creak from the pressure of invisible feet, doorknobs that twist on their own and lights that turn off and on.

Supernatural experiences on college campuses are well documented, according to UW-River Falls Journalism Professor Michael Norman, who has included a collection of them in a section he calls Haunts of Ivy in the newly-published book "Haunted Heritage," which he co-authored with his late writing partner, the deceased Beth Scott.

The stories come from colleges across the country, including Wisconsin, Illinois and Kansas in the Midwest. The ghosts in these tales are usually former students or professors, some of whom died tragically and some who just don't seem ready to leave.

"There's the story of a history professor who died unexpectedly yet continues to keep office hours, with lights burning in his locked office late at night," says Norman, "and the story of a young woman who was bludgeoned to death with an axe by a crazed custodian. She has remained in the hall where she was killed, continuing to practice her piano in the former music room.

"Then there's the varsity football player who awoke one night when he heard his name being called. A man was standing in the doorway of his dorm room, and he was wearing the student's varsity letter jacket. The student's name was stitched on the jacket. The man went into the bathroom down the hall and left the jacket there, hanging on a stall, and he disappeared."

Students may also want to consider sharing their Halloween candy when dealing with ghosts. One young actress laughed and ridiculed people who thought the campus theatre was haunted by a ghost girl, and left candy to appease her. One night, as the actress descended a flight of steps to reach the stage, a pair of hands suddenly gripped her ankles tightly, causing her to fall headlong down the steps. After that, she didn't take any chances. She began bringing candy to share with the ghost girl, just in case she really existed.

The book "Haunted Heritage" is the fifth in a series of American occult folklore co-authored by Norman and Scott that includes "Haunted Wisconsin" published in 1980 by Trail Books; "Haunted Heartland" published in 1985 by Warner Books; "Haunted America" published in 1994 by Forge Books; and "Historic Haunted America," also by Forge Books. All are available in paperback.

Norman has already started on his next book, "Haunted Homestead," which he says will be the final book in the series. It will be published by Forge Books and will probably be available fall 2004.

"Haunted Heritage" is a Forge Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, in New York. In addition to haunted college campuses, it contains spectral tales from all across the United States and Canada. It is available in hardcover at any bookstore and online, for $24.95.

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