October at Marquette means more than just one weekend of Halloween costumes, candy, and scary movies – stories of hauntings across campus are told throughout the month. For some students, the tales of ghosts and demons are far too real.
Some of Marquette’s many ghost stories are rooted in historical events, and some have been passed through the rumor mill for many years. This year, in addition to the usual ghost stories, Marquette’s campus has been visited by some new ghosts in Schroeder Hall.
The first ghost allegedly lives on the south wing of the ninth floor of Schroeder Hall. This ghost, who does not have a name, makes its presence known when residents are not living on the floor.
Billy Sweet, a resident assistant in Schroeder Hall and a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, has lived on the floor for the last three years and encountered the ghost numerous times.
Sweet’s first encounter with the ninth floor ghost came during RA training his sophomore year. Schroeder Hall was completely empty except for the RAs who stayed there for training. Sweet left his room unlocked to go to a meeting, and when he returned, his electronics were unplugged, furniture had been moved around, and Christmas lights he had hung up were on the floor and smashed. Believing it was other RAs pulling a prank, Sweet brushed it off.
The next day he left his room to go to another meeting, this time locking his room. When he returned, his room was unlocked, furniture was moved around, and a roll of tape was taken from his RA box. Later that night, when all of the doors in unoccupied rooms were locked, Sweet heard a door slam down the hall. Sweet, along with two other RAs, decided to check all the doors to make sure everything was locked. Room 925 was unlocked, even though it was locked the next day. Room 913 was locked, but the lights were on.
Sweet tried to open room 906, but the key would not unlock the door, even though the same key had locked the room before summer break. The master key also wouldn’t open the door. The hall director came up to the floor and tried her master key, a key that should open every door in the building, but it would not open room 906. The Department of Public Safety was contacted, and its key would not work. DPS decided to sweep the whole building to make sure there was no one living on the floor. But no one was there who was not supposed to be.
After that night, Sweet started experiencing odd dreams and could not fall asleep before 3 a.m. Sweet said he felt uncomfortable in his room.
“I felt like there was something in my room,” Sweet said. “But I didn’t give it a lot of credibility. I thought I was making this up in my head because all of this was going on.”
During RA training before second semester, every RA went on an RA retreat. There was no one living in Schroeder during this retreat. When they returned, all of the posters Sweet had put up on the walls on the side nearest to room 906 were taken off the wall and were neatly stacked in a pile. The tape for the posters were still hanging on the wall. DPS checked the tapes from that night to see if anyone had come through the first floor or the ninth floor but saw nothing.
Two nights before residents returned, Sweet was in his room with other RAs when they heard a gust of wind come through the wing. Doors rattled and posters fluttered.
“I can’t describe what the feeling was sitting in my room after hearing that - (I was) creeped out as all hell,” Sweet said.
But when the residents moved back in for the second semester, the activity stopped. Sweet, however, still felt something abnormal in his room.
“Even when residents moved back in, I still couldn’t fall asleep until 3 a.m. for a couple nights,” Sweet said. “But everything else stopped. All the other creepy feelings stopped, and my key worked in 906.”
Noah Leigh, founder of the Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee, founded the “ghost hunting group” to try to explain paranormal activity in the Milwaukee area.
“The paranormal are unusual phenomena that can’t be explained scientifically,” Leigh said.
The Schroeder ghost is known as an intelligent ghost, meaning it reacts and is affected by the presence of people, Leigh said.
“An intelligent ghost has consciousness,” Leigh said. “I can ask it a question and it can answer back. We can set up an experience and set up trigger objects to try to get it to interact with us.”
Leigh said ghosts are normally affected by the presence of people.
“There are reports that something is there, and we go in,” Leigh said. “There is no proof that it actually matters (if we’re there), but there may be something that we do that they react to.”
After returning from winter break, the residents of room 906 checked the ceiling tiles,which can be pushed up, and found a roll of tape. Sweet claims it was the same roll of tape that had been taken from his room the year before.
“I don’t know how that happened,” Sweet said. “It was definitely my roll of tape, and it was in their ceiling. It was creepy.”
Sweet has also witnessed some creepy activity this semester. He and the other RA on the ninth floor, Zach Caldwell, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, were checking rooms until they got to room 906, which was unlocked when it should have been locked and had its lights on and windows open. The next day, Sweet and Caldwell were walking down the south wing of ninth floor. Room 925 was unlocked, despite having been locked the day before. Later that night, Sweet and a few RAs thought they heard something in the wing and went to check it out. Nothing was out of the ordinary, except for room 906 being unlocked once again.
“At that point, my biggest concern was that I was having really weird feelings, odd dreams; things were just creepy on (the) wing,” Sweet said.
The next day, Caldwell and Sweet were walking down the wing again. As they passed a certain point, room 939’s door would rattle. They went down the rest of the wing and came back. As they hit the same point, the door would rattle. The two tested it a total of four times, and every time they would pass a certain point, the door would rattle. When they keyed into the room, there was nothing wrong.
“I walked in, and there was nothing,” Sweet said. “The windows were closed, the lights were off. The room was fine.”
“We were both spooked,” Caldwell said. “I thought it was going to be a board by the door that when we stepped on it, it would hit the door or something. But that wasn’t the case.”
Later that night, Sweet went into the first floor bathroom of Schroeder, and he latched the stall door. As he turned around, the door started opening.
“I know I latched that door,” Sweet said. “You have to pull those closed on the guy’s first floor stall, and it didn’t just open a little bit, it opened the entire way. And that’s when I got the most intense feeling of somebody being there with me I’ve ever had.”
Sweet immediately left the bathroom and went up back to his room to grab his rosary. He had left his room locked, but when he returned, his room was unlocked, the light he always leaves on was turned off, and his rosary was in the middle of the room on the floor.
“As I reached for my rosary, I felt a pressure on the right side of my foot and my ankle broke,” Sweet said. “As I was reaching for my rosary, I felt something from the right side of my foot, push it in, and my ankle broke … I honestly felt a hostile force break my ankle.”
To try to stop what has been happening on the ninth floor of Schroeder, Sweet and Caldwell contacted a Jesuit to come to the wing. The priest blessed three rooms on the ninth floor: Caldwell’s room, Sweet’s room and room 906. And since those blessings have happened, there has not been any paranormal activity.
Jose Nieves, sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences and a resident of room 906, has not experienced anything in his room but has not tried to interact with the ghost.
Leigh said this sort of experience is very rare. Normally, ghosts do not attack those they haunt, but with the onset of paranormal investigating shows, in which nearly everything is shown as a demon, it has become the first conclusion people jump to. Leigh also said he believes the blessing should help stop the haunting.
The ghost of Schroeder Hall is the first and only report in which the ghost is believed to have harmed a student. But there are plenty of other ghosts said to inhabit Marquette buildings.
Other campus hauntings, new and old
Other paranormal rumors on campus include hauntings in Humphrey Hall, an old children’s hospital, the Varsity Theatre, Johnston Hall, Mashuda Hall, Straz Tower and Carpenter Hall.
Some of these hauntings are less severe than others. Johnston Hall is rumored to be home to two Jesuit ghosts. These Jesuits supposedly jumped off the building and are rumored to haunt the fifth floor. The Varsity Theatre is allegedly home to a former projector operator who likes to turn things on and off and lock and unlock doors. Carpenter Hall is reportedly haunted by a boy named Jeremy, who died in a fire at the dorm. Jeremy has allegedly been seen in some windows of the dorm and has even caused unplugged electronics to turn on.
Others have had more of an effect on residents. Cobeen Hall is most known for being haunted by an art critic. Rumors say the art critic likes to take the posters off of residents’ walls.
Kaitlyn Farmer, a sophomore in the College of Communication who lived in room 509 of Cobeen Hall, had an experience with a ghost other than the critic. When she was sleeping one night, she woke up to see a girl dressed in white sitting at the edge of her bed.
“I went to go reach for her, and she actually reached back,” Farmer said. “I hid under my covers the whole night and I just wanted to cry.”
Whenever she was alone in her room from that point on, Farmer would hear weird noises, and her roommate told Farmer that she started hearing the same things. Farmer had never heard of any girl dressed in white haunting Cobeen before her experience.
Mashuda Hall is rumored to have a room where a girl was a part of an exorcism. This room has not experienced any paranormal activity since the exorcism, but it is rumored that the former resident who participated in the exorcism was haunted by a girl who committed suicide in the room.
Straz Tower, a converted YMCA, is said to be home to a boy named Willie. Willie drowned when he was a child and is said to haunt the pool area of Straz. Reports have said that when students open the pool for the morning, they will see a small amount of water moving, as if someone was swimming. Some have even heard someone say their name when they swim early in the morning.
Paul Lisy, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, lives in Humphrey Hall and heard rumors about a ghost girl that lives on the first floor of the hall. He said residents sometimes hear a girl playing with a ball or running down the hall. However, when residents investigate the noise, no one is there. Residents have also said they have a feeling someone is watching them when they are on the floor.
Lisy does not feel threatened by the reports of ghosts living in the dorm.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Lisy said. “I grew up in a house that (was) haunted. I’ve been around paranormal things since I’ve been a child, so it’s nothing new to me.”