Seattle University recently celebrated its 126th anniversary since its official founding in 1891. This, of course, means that every single original faculty member, professor and student who stepped foot on the very ground we work, teach and study on today is most certainly dead.
Naturally, this calls into question whether or not their spirits still remain on campus, floating silently along the tree-canopied walkways and in the dustiest of classroom corners, bringing terror and ghostly tomfoolery wherever they roam.
We at the Spectator set out to uncover the truth. We began our investigation on a brisk afternoon in the 1103 building. The building, formerly named the Lynn Building, was once a mortuary. We spoke to Verna McKinnon-Hipps, the department’s Administrative Assistant.
While Verna denied any ghostly activity in the 1103 building, she confirmed the building’s past as a mortuary.
“When the bodies arrived here, they were already dead,” McKinnon-Hipps reasoned cooly in reference to its perceived lack of an otherworldly presence. “This isn’t the place they would be haunting.”
Disappointed but not defeated, we felt that we should next investigate the Administration building, said by many at the University to have originally began as a Jesuit boy’s school that did not include higher education.
We spoke to Mallory Trujillo, a University Advancement staff member on the first floor of the Admin Building, about her ghoulish encounters in the historic space.
“When I first started working here, it was during the break, and there weren’t a lot of students here,” Trujillo said. “We had everything closed up, the heaters on, and I’d notice that when I went into the bathrooms sometimes, there would be these random drafts.”
Trujillo described the draft as having a “chill factor.” With a vibrant enthusiasm, she described it as the kind of draft that gives you goosebumps and “makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.”
She sent us across the hall to Liz Polatti, who works in the President’s Office. Polatti, coincidentally, also had a paranormal experience to share with us which took place in the restrooms of the building.
“The ladies loo upstairs on the second floor on the north end of the hallway is haunted,” Polatti said. “I believe it is because in the old days, when we had the electronic paper towel dispensers, you’d be in one of the cubicles, just doing what you do, and all of the sudden, with nobody outside the door, the paper towels would dispense.”
According to Polatti, the paper towel dispensers would repeatedly go off all on their own.
President Fr. Stephen Sundborg, S.J. returned to his office while we were interviewing, and he invited us into his office to let us ask him about ghosts. While he hadn’t experienced any hauntings at the University, he told us about his sister, who was born on Halloween and was referred to in his family as being “brought by the witches.”
He joked that she had the “world’s largest Halloween-themed birthday cards” and gave insight into their spectral relationship.
“I say she haunts me because I was a bit of a slow learner when I was little,” Sundborg chuckled. “She’s the one who taught me how to skate, how to whistle, [etc.], even though she was younger. So I’m haunted by my sister, whose birthday is on Halloween.”
Highly suspicious of a possible presence from the underworld and curious about the experiences of students on campus, we proceeded with our paranormal investigation in the Cave, located in the Campion basement. Andrew Freemuth, a Junior, told us about a night last year while living in Chardin.
“It was before Christmas, like super late,” Freemuth recalled. “We’re talking 2–3 a.m.”
“No one was at the front desk,” he said, but when he got to the elevators, the doors were wide open.
This prompted us to head straight to the source of his story, where this time, someone was at the front desk. We spoke with them briefly, and although they denied an interview, they directed us to a small group of Resident Assistants (RAs) outside the building, who were taking photos as part of a residence hall program that provides students with headshots for websites like LinkedIn.
Standing near a small sea of bright ruby leaves, they each described to us their most chilling memories of life on campus. All attested to the seemingly sentient elevators in Chardin, and each reported that their closet doors would fly open in the middle of the night.
One RA, Katie Bradley, told us about an encounter she had when she had just moved into Chardin, earlier than the rest of its residents as part of her job. She was only accompanied by a few others from Events & Services—not even any other RAs had moved into the building yet.
“There was no one else on floor three,” Bradley said. “I washed [my laundry] and I was putting it in the dryer, and it was normal. I just set the timer for 45 minutes.”
When she returned, however, things took a turn for the creepy.
“The timer went off and I went to go check it, and the dryer was wide open, my clothes were damp, and the weirdest thing is that there was one towel of mine, and it was folded and placed across the room,” Bradley exclaimed.
Chardin Residence Hall previously existed as Bessie Burton Sullivan Skilled Nursing Residence. The building was converted into classrooms, dorms and offices for the University in 2007. This conversion was hotly opposed by protesters, due to the fact that the 135 residents of the facility, many suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia, were informed two months before its closing and forced to find new homes.
Bessie Burton Sullivan Skilled Nursing Residence opened in 1990 and remained active until it was shut down in 2007, meaning the transfer of souls into the Great Unknown was undoubtedly a common occurrence within its walls.
Death is all around us. We cannot escape it. In places with detailed pasts, it is impossible to walk where no one has walked before. It is thought that sometimes we remain in the places that were once important to us, tethered to them like anchored balloons, straining to be set free but never able to hover away into oblivion.
Between two separate reports of encounters in the bathrooms from faculty in the Administration building to campfire-esque retellings of eerie happenings in residence halls from students, there are solid reports of some unearthly happenings on campus.
Each of the reported paranormal instances occurred when the person was by themselves entirely. This Halloween, take extra precautions if you find yourself out on campus in the late hours of the night. That quick load of laundry or those last few notes for that UCOR you’ve been neglecting lately can wait until you’ve got a buddy with you in broad daylight.
Or, if you’re the type, hold a seance and try to connect to the spirits that haunt our campus. Chardin and Admin especially seem to be a hotspot for all things supernatural.
Have a scary, safe and fun Halloween, Redhawks!
Just remember, when you’re at Seattle University, you can never be too sure that you’re truly alone…
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