By Rachel Hennessey ‘13 Staff Writer
If you’re a student at the 5Cs, chances are you’ve heard at least a few stories about haunted places around campus. In the midst of all this Halloween spirit, ghost-related gossip is all around us. Many stories and sightings, old and new, have come out of Scripps in particular. If ghost tales make you nervous, think twice before reading on; these accounts may cause you to look at your favorite dorm or hangout spot in a different light.
Scripps students’ accounts of ghost sightings and paranormal experiences mostly occur in residential areas, not academic facilities, according to Judy Harvey Sahak, a lifelong Scrippsie and current director of Denison Library. Since rejoining the Scripps community as a faculty member in 1976, Harvey Sahak has been the go-to person for all things supernatural. She has a knack for drawing out historical connections from student reports about ghost sightings in locations such as Clark, Toll, Frankel residence halls, and the President’s house.
Some of the more notable stories have occurred in recent years. In 2009, a group of freshmen spotted a woman in the courtyard of Clark, who reportedly enticed them to join her outside. The students declined her offer, but found that small things in the room changed thereafter, like the placement of magnets on their refrigerator and flickering lights. “I think the ghost was trying to figure out if we were receptive to its presence,” one of the students said. They described the woman as a redhead wearing a long white dress. Harvey Sahak had heard reports of this red-haired woman around the Clark courtyard years earlier, unbeknownst to these students in 2009.
The Toll browsing room is the most haunted place at Scripps, according to Harvey Sahak. Just this year, a freshman was reciting her presentation aloud alone in the room when she heard three loud thuds rattle the wall behind her, as if someone disapproved of her speaking. In recent years, students have also reported hearing loud voices from outside the room’s door, only to find no one on the other side.
Harvey Sahak believes the spirit of Eleanor J. Toll, a board member-to-be in the 1920s who died of a heart attack the night before she was to begin her term, is the spirit behind these incidents. As legend has it, there was also an admitted student who passed away before her freshman fall, whose mother donated a chair that now sits in the Toll browsing room. The chair is said to be haunted, and Harvey Sahak has heard multiple reports of students hearing strange noises while sitting in the chair at night.
A few years back, there was an event in the living room of the Scripps President’s house, during which attendees heard a thud from the hallway. When a member of the catering staff went to check what the calamity was, she saw a man standing in a blue sweater, hands in his pockets. Harvey Sahak believes she may have seen the spirit of Scripps’ founder and first president, Ernest Jaqua. Jaqua apparently disliked the President’s house, and was once photographed standing with his hands in the pockets of his blue blazer – coincidence?
In 2010, freshman Willa Oddleifson spotted a ghost on the third floor of Frankel twice. Both times, she was garbed in a long white dress. “I felt oddly comforted and at peace when I saw her. She was completely harmless,” Oddleifson said.
Other places at Scripps with repeated sightings include Denison Library and the second floor singles in Dorsey, which have a ghost whom two students have described as being “comforting, gentle and consoling,” Harvey Sahak said.