Campus ghost stories uncovered

By Gus Bode

virgin urban legend and other spooky tales throughout campus

A good ghost story shivers a spine, cools bones to the core and begs mom to leave the nightlight on.

Ghost stories and urban legends are whispered on college campuses throughout the nation, and SIUC is no exception. Tales from the crypt range from urban legends to the city of Carbondale and the basement of the Communications Building.

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One urban legend on campus says if a virgin walks by, a cannon will fire.

Barbara Mikkelson wrote in a May 4, 2000, article for snopes.com about this urban legend. She said in her article this story originated from the idea that every college campus wants to think of itself as the ultimate party school.

“The underlying message of such beliefs is that [their] school is a hellhole of debauchery and wild times, a state of affairs considered a badge of honor among college students,” according to the website.

The cannon described in the SIUC legend date back to the late 19th century. A June 1998 article in the Daily Egyptian reported the War Department gave the University two cannons in 1878 to be used by the Douglas Corps Cadets. The cannon was later placed next to both the Old Main Building and Altgeld Hall. Student vandalism caused the cannon to be moved to its current resting place – a museum archive on McLafferty Road.

The second cannon’s whereabouts are presently unknown.

Other campuses across the nation have similar variations of this urban legend, including the University of Illinois and the University of Missouri. Most of the different interpretations of the urban legend are in honor of the virgin’s achievement, but at Knox College, the statue of a wounded soldier will come to life and chase her out to a nearby cornfield and alleviate her condition.

Other sites throughout Carbondale have also been known for ghostly sightings. Jason Austin, a junior in radio-television from Sims, said he has heard the old asylum, located on the southwest side of town, is haunted.

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“I have never went in, but I have drove by it,” Austin said. “It’s creepy and old. I could see it being haunted.”

Chrissy Mazzone said she believes there is a paranormal in the basement of the Communications Building.

“When I am downstairs in the basement, I hear this clanking in the pipes, and the noise follows me,” said Mazzone, a senior in radio-television from Palatine.

SIUC student Erik Gulbrandsen, a sophomore in cinema and photography from Pecatonica, said he believes the truth in urban legends and ghost stories often depends on the legend itself.

“Most originate from some sort of truth,” he said. “Then over time, the story becomes exaggerated as it is passed down.”

Courtney Reeder said she agrees college students began adding their own versions to the stories.

“Each campus wanted to put their own spin on the same legend,” said Reeder, a junior in elementary education from Carbondale.

Though the supposed hauntings of the asylum and basement may not be true, Mikkelson said there is no reported truth to the urban legend.

“Sadly, there are no credible records of stone lions coming to life or the world crashing upon itself because a virgin has walked across campus,” Mikkelson said.

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