Students will have a chance to tell the Center for Louisiana Studies about their paranormal campus encounters in front of the Edith Garland Dupré library from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 31, according to the center’s Assistant Director for Research John “Pudd” Sharp.
“On Halloween, probably from 11 (a.m.) to 1 (p.m.), we want to set up a recording station outside, like a tent, to talk about stuff like that if people want to stop by and tell us a story,” Sharp said.
Sharp said this new project drew inspiration from the Dr. Patricia Rickels collection, a compilation of recorded campus hauntings and other university lore that dates back to the 1970s.
“It made me think that we need to start a collection of campus lore that the Center for Louisiana Studies can, with (students’) help, have people come to us and tell us things about campus that aren’t being recorded so we can be a location that these things can be recorded and stored,” he said.
He listed some examples of well-known student ghost stories at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, including the tales surrounding the Harris Hall elevator.
“One of the main stories on campus has to do with Harris Hall and a ghost of a student there,” he said, “Supposedly a sleepwalking student fell into an open elevator shaft. One of the things from Dr. Pat Rickels’ collection was that someone saw a disembodied head in Harris Hall.”
Although the center is looking for new tales to collect, Sharp and his coworkers are no strangers to stories of strange phenomena.
The Center for Louisiana Studies is currently in the process of moving into the Roy House, a 118-year-old mansion on the corner of Johnston Street and West University Avenue. According to Sharp, some people who work in the house talk about hearing strange noises.
“The Roy House, which is our future home, the ladies who work there have had some experiences of hearing people walk around when there’s no one else,” he said.
However, Sharp said he believes that sounds could have a more mundane explanation.
“The upstairs had been empty and dormant,” he said. “Occasionally, a possum gets in there or something like that. So, stuff like that happens, which adds to the unknown aspect, I guess.”
Sharp added that the center’s current home, the third floor of the Edith Garland Dupré library, has its own fair share of paranormal stories.
“Recently, one of the librarians stopped me to ask if I had heard anything about ghosts on the third floor of the library,” he said, adding that student workers performed a seance on the third floor a year ago.
Sharp said he has heard several ghost stories about the third floor, including students seeing a figure dressed in white and employees noticing activity concentrated around the bathrooms. He added that people have discovered “creepy elements” in older parts of the third floor.
“There was an unfinished area behind a locked door, but when you went in, there was an old wheelchair, a leather doctor’s case and a doll in a glass case,” he said.
Sharp mentioned reports of an increase in paranormal activity on the third floor since the seance.
“Something of note: Since the seance, some of the student workers that work on the third floor a lot said that it didn’t make the ghost go away, that it’s made it more active, that it’s sometimes pulling books off the shelves and stuff like that,” he said.