BY AVERY MARTIN ’22
People have been telling spooky stories for centuries, and Mount Holyoke students are no exception. From the famous Wilder ghost, who is said to live in a now-indefinitely locked room in Wilder Hall, to the lesser-known story of a mental asylum in Torrey Hall, tales of campus hauntings abound. In addition to these repeated stories, students report paranormal experiences, often in their dorm rooms.
Ophelia Bryan ’22, who lives on the fourth floor of Wilder Hall, claims that there is a spirit of some kind, which she thinks might be the Wilder ghost, haunting her room. “The person below us hears noise,” said Bryan. “They talk a lot about loud footsteps when [my roommate and I] were not home.” Bryan also reported that her window and door often open or close on their own.
Katherine McCall ’85 also remembers a haunting in her room in Ham Hall. Someone in the hall once told her that her room was “the haunted room.” She and her roommate somehow determined that their poltergeist was the ghost of Emily Dickinson. “There was no more than the usual slamming doors and things like that, but [we said] it was always Emily,” said McCall.
Students seem to be excited, rather than frightened, by these stories. According to a zine created by Iris Parker-Pavitt ’15 for the Mount Holyoke archives, the traditional story of the Wilder ghost is inaccurate: “According to the original floor plans and college records, this room in Wilder was never used as a student room.” Bryan was disappointed by this information. “I want it to be the ghost’s room,” she said. “It’s spookier.”
Although fear doesn’t seem like an enjoyable emotion, people here and everywhere seek it out, reveling in stories of the supernatural. Neil Gaiman, renowned author of spooky stories such as Coraline, once said “Fear is a wonderful thing, in small doses. You ride the ghost train into the darkness, knowing that eventually the doors will open and you will step out into the daylight once again…It’s good to be a child again, for a little while, and to fear — not governments, not regulations, not infidelities or accountants or distant wars, but ghosts and such things that don’t exist, and even if they do, can do nothing to hurt us.”