Oct. 25, 2017
Well, it’s that time of year when if I stay just the slightest bit late, the office gets a little creepy. Shadows seem more sinister; the creaky floors sound spookier and I jump at the thump of the furnace kicking on. In a building that’s more than 100 years old, everything seems a little scary after dark. I’ve written before about the strange goings on in Olds Hall, and I’m still not convinced the place isn’t haunted. I’ve moved into a new space this year – down to the wing where I’ve heard phantom footsteps and doors slamming, so that’s cool.
You might not know, but Olds Hall is actually a rebuild of an almost identical structure that burned down in 1916 and was rebuilt in 1917, using a private donation from Ransom E. Olds of Oldsmobile. It was originally the Engineering Building but now houses a random collection of offices and classrooms.
Exactly 100 years from the day of that fire, I was at a conference out of town when a colleague back on campus texted to tell me that they had to evacuate the building when the fire alarms went off. While it wasn’t a major fire, just some burned popcorn that set off the sensors, it happened in exactly the same place where the fire started a century before. Coincidence? Or maybe something strange happened that day. Whatever the case, it still sends a shiver up my spine when I look at the photo of the building burning. It makes me feel like I’m working in some weird time-travelling portal or parallel universe.
Photo courtesy University Archives & Historical Collections
Given that Halloween is coming up and the supernatural is on top of mind for lots of people, I realized that I should have saved my story about my ability to turn off streetlights for this week. Just today, as I was walking my dog past the perpetually dark streetlight in front of my house, I looked at one of the lights on my neighbor’s garage and wondered if maybe that would go out. I swear I’m not making this up – it totally went out. Just the one I had looked at. Do I honestly have some sort of telekinesis ability? I mean, I haven’t crushed any Coke cans or flipped a van and I don’t get nosebleeds, but still.
Speaking of telekinesis and parallel universes, my colleagues put together a super fun collection of short videos exploring those very topics. Just in time for the season two premiere of Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” MSU professors comment on those concepts and the significance of nostalgia in pop culture as related to the popular show. You really don’t want to miss this one so check out the MSUTODAY FEATURE: Spartan Things, and travel back to the 1980s to analyze the strange and supernatural world of the Upside Down.
While those professors are using science to explore a television show, MSU theater students are using their acting chops and the lore of another haunted building on campus to raise money. The Haunted Aud, an annual event sponsored by the Department of Theatre, is a fundraising event that supports programs to help performance students kick-start their careers by paying for things like showcases in New York City. Check out the short video and story in the STUDENT VIEW: The Haunted Aud, to learn more about the creepy event.
Also, check out the official MSU Snapchat account Thursday when student Ryan Duda will be taking over and going behind the scenes of the Haunted Aud. For more campus chills, connect to Snapchat tonight when my intern Liz Schondelmayer takes over for an eerie Apparitions and Archaeology tour near Beaumont Tower.
While Mark Auslander isn’t claiming the MSU Museum (did you know it used to be the library?) is haunted, he did get a shock on his first visit to the museum. He rounded a corner and a creature was there on its hind legs with its claws out. For anyone who’s been to the museum, you probably guessed it was just the famed brown bear on display. Check out his FACULTY VOICE: Resonance and wonder, to learn his thoughts about the importance of museum displays and what they teach us.
There are plenty of strange and unexplained things that go on in our world. Some of them are scary and some are just perplexing. Neither of those things will stop a Spartan because Spartans are fearless. They willingly go where problems are and try to solve them. They don’t shrink back and let someone else go first – Spartans are the first to jump in and find solutions. When things seem impossible, Spartans simply dig in and try harder. Spartans are determined to make the world better no matter the obstacles they face, even if they’re scary. There’s nothing strange about that. Spartans Will.
Top photo by Trevor Barnes