GS Students Locate the Supernatural in Sanford Hall
Sanford Hall was not always the home to the Communication Arts Department. Hear from a former graduate, whose daughter was a Comm Arts Major, as she discusses when Sanford Hall was a dormitory on campus.
Story by Megan Quinn and McKenzie Hamby
Where are they now?
Casey Cargle- Casey Cargle found his niche in the Georgia Southern University Communication Arts Department, aftermaking a dicey move of choosing the university without ever visiting.
Ashley Rausch is a Georgia Southern University alumna from Atlanta, Georgia. She is a summer 2012 graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in public relations.
Marla Rooker began her journey at Georgia Southern University in 2011 and graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science degree in multimedia communications.
Kelli Tellier is a May 2018 communications graduate making the most of her public relations degree in southern Nevada. Tellier is currently a publicist working in media relations, promoting brands at the marketing agency Reflex Media Inc. While her degree is in public relations, Tellier has found herself in the business of love and matchmaking at Reflex Media, which focuses mainly on dating sites.
Chyna Bright fell in love with Georgia Southern’s small-feel, large-scale university. Following in the footsteps of her father and aunt, she chose a university that not only had her major of choice, journalism, but was extremely hands-on as well.
Thomas Jilk graduated from Georgia Southern in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science degree in multimedia journalism. He is currently a marketing communications assistant at the Illinois Holocaust Museum. Thomas also served as sports editor for The George-Anne, Georgia Southern’s student newspaper, for the entirety of 2017.
Frank Sulkowski is a Georgia Southern University alumnus who graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree in broadcasting.
Patrick Griffin graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree in multimedia communications.
Lindsay Haynes graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science degree in public relations. As an Atlanta native, the university’s reputable background, large-scale and small-feel drew her in. Lindsay was initially enrolled as a nursing student, but after receiving a ‘D’ in chemistry, she met with her advisor to find a more suitable major. After researching other majors, she decided to pursue a degree in public relations.
Annie Mohr began her college career at Georgia Southern University in 2014, graduating in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science degree in public relations.
While attending Wheeler High School in Marietta, Georgia, Bailey McClure pursued science, technology, engineering and math. She was also into theatre and acted in school plays. Gradually, Bailey became interested in the technical side of theatre, and during her senior year, while her classmates were interning at engineering laboratories, Bailey interned at the Alliance Theatre Scene Shop, where she fell in love with set design.
Donna Brooks attended Georgia Southern University in the 1980s and graduated with a degree in journalism in 1986. Brooks decided to major in journalism despite her family hoping she’d choose a different path.
Broadcast reporter Gregory Pallone is a class of 1994 graduate of Georgia Southern University. During his studies, Pallone majored in communications with an emphasis in broadcasting.
Tim Henschel is a 1994 graduate of Georgia Southern University. Henschel began his education in 1989 and was originally a student at Georgia Southern College until the school reached university status in 1990.
Aubrey Trevathan Hall is a Georgia Southern University alumna who graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science degree in public relations and journalism. She will also graduate this May from the professional communication and leadership graduate program.
John David Lane attended Georgia Southern University from 2003 to 2011, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre.
Meg Elwood is a Georgia Southern University alumna from Savannah, Georgia. She graduated in Spring 2017 and received a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism.
Taisha White attended Georgia Southern University in Spring 2014 and graduated in Spring 2017. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in journalism.
Danny Waugh attended Georgia Southern University in the fall of 2012 and initially majored in communications before changing to journalism. After playing basketball and football in high school, Waugh knew that he wasn’t going to play on the collegiate level and decided to become involved in sports through sports journalism.
The intensity of it all, waiting for the moment when her state’s winner would be announced during election night in 2016. Kierah Highsmith attended Georgia Southern University from 2013 to 2017. She graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in May of 2017.
Catherine Sneed began her college career at Georgia Southern University in 2003 and graduated in 2007. During her time at GSU, she majored in public relations with a minor in international studies.
Kathryn Burrell is a Georgia Southern University alumna who graduated in December 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater with minor in film studies. She spent some time after graduation as an assistant director to Lisa Abbott for William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure production at Georgia Southern.
James ‘Conrad’ Randolph is a Georgia Southern University alumnus from Crawfordville, Georgia. He is a Fall 2018 graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism.
Caroline Eaker graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism. Eaker focused mainly on print journalism but soon found her passion in broadcast.
The Spirit of Sanford
STATESBORO-After years of moving from building to building and spending time in temporary trailers, the Communication Arts Department was finally given a home in spring of 2014 when they moved into Sanford Hall, an old dorm that was refurbished into an academic building for the department. Not even a year after moving into the building, some faculty started to experience strange phenomenon.
They reported blinds opening on their own and strange smells. There was even a now deleted video of a door opening by itself. The only Comm Arts faculty member to see the video was Benjamin Bentley, the broadcast specialist for the Comm Arts Department. The video was recorded in August of 2014, the department’s first semester teaching in Sanford. A storm had blown through Georgia that fall and had caused flooding in the basement studio in the building.
The Communication Arts Department requested to see video captured by a security camera to assess the flooding.“The police officer, before he actually showed me the video said, ‘ok, you’re going to see something on here that we can’t explain,’” Bentley said.As the officer pressed play on the button, between five and 10 officers crowded around the monitor to see the video. At first the video just showed the studio and its flooding, but as they fast forwarded to the afternoon of August 2017 something else happened. The door handle to the tv control room began to jiggle like someone was attempting to open it, but no one was there.
Then the door started to slowly creep open to about halfway and the door stayed like that for hours.Bentley explained that there is no way the door could open on its own because of the flow of the air in the room and the weight of the door. The way the air flows out the of control room is the opposite of the way the door opened. If anything the flow of air should have kept the door closed instead of opening it.
The door to the control room is also heavy and it would be difficult for a draft of wind to open it even if it flowed the same way it opened, Bentley said.
There was also no way that someone opened the door because the way the security camera was positioned it saw not only the door, but the entry way to the door. If anyone had tried to open the door without being seen, the camera would have caught them.
“You cannot dispute what they saw on surveillance,” Tyson Davis, a multimedia and film production instructor at GSU said. “There’s no way to go down to that door and make it do what it did on that surveillance video. ”A part from the video of the door opening,
Bentley has not seen anything else. He said that sometimes the blinds to in the tv studio are open in the morning after being closed the night before, but since they are on an electric switch he thinks the custodial staff may have accidentally opened them by hitting the switch.
Although he had never seen the video Dean Cummings, Ph.D., assistant professor at GSU, had an experience that he could only describe as supernatural. About two years ago, Cummings was in the studio room of Sanford Hall when the blinds that block windows near the studio’s ceiling began to open on their own.
The blinds are controlled by a panel of buttons on the side of a wall in the studio. Cummings explained that the night the curtains went up on their own no one was leaning on the panel.
Furthermore, Cummings demonstrated that the buttons on the panel were hard to press and opening the blinds could not be accomplished just by simply leaning on the panel.
“You just got that feeling like that was kind of supernatural but it could be just a short wiring but you just saw how difficult it is,” Cummings said while pressing the buttons on the panel and eventually getting the blinds to rise.”Cummings asked Bentley to see what was wrong with the blinds however, after further inspection
Cummings said there was nothing mechanically wrong with the blinds. Along with the malfunction blinds, Cummings said two years ago the studio would experience mechanical issues such as the switcher and the audio not working at the same time.
Cummings said it was strange that the two occured at the same time because the two mechanical functions are separate from one another. “Sometimes thing will just go haywire in the control room,” Cummings said. “Everything will go belly up. Things are a little different than it was two years ago. It felt like a gremlin was coming in and screwing up everything.”
Cummings said that he does believe there is an energy that remains in buildings, however, whatever was present during the supernatural phenomena is no longer in Sanford Hall. Cummings explained most of the problems that occur in the studio are more technical than they are supernatural. Along with Bentley and Cummings,
Davis also experienced experienced some strange phenomenon in Sanford Hall. Many nights Davis stays late in Sanford and on a few occasions when he went to the faculty lounge on the third floor of Sanford Hall he has smelled the distinctive cologne of Kent Murray, aformer faculty member who suddenly passed away right after the department moved into the building.
Davis believes if there is a spirit in Sanford that it would be Murray because of how hard he worked to get the department a permanent building since the department was in temporary trailers. Davis also claims that the strange phenomenon only started happening after the passing of Murray. “There’s never been one moment that I’ve been scared or disturbed or anything in this building, Davis” said. “Especially if it’s Mr. Murray, he’s looking out for us.”Exploring haunted Sanford HallStanding outside of Sanford Hall at 9 p.m. only one question ran through my mind: “Is this place really haunted?”
The thought never really crossed my mind. The only thing that haunted me at this building was deadlines for assignments and Dr. JenniferKowalewski, but then again that was only during the day. Everything looks haunted if you visit it at night.
After hearing the ghost stories from the faculty of the Communication Arts Department, myself and fellow Sincerely, Southern writer Brendan Ward decided we’d conduct our own ghost hunt of the building to try to capture the unexplainable.
Unqualified and somewhat unafraid, our team of ghost hunters met at the third floor of Sanford. We brought Chris Stokes to manage the video, Blakeley Bartee to manage the audio and editor-in-chief Tandra Smith tagged along just for the thrill of the hunt.
No, we did not have a Ecto Defibrillator or jumpsuit uniforms like the Ghostbusters but we did have dowsing rods made from coat hangers and a Ouija board made by Hasbro. Brendan and I did make an attempt to buy Ghostbuster t-shirts but the local Walmart was sold out. Instead we got black shirts with “security” printed on them. Close enough right?
Our first spot of interest was the basement of Sanford Hall. The stories of the self opening door and window blinds made this a prime supernatural spotting ground. Walking into the studio at night with no one there was a bit odd. Most times the studio is filled with students running back and forth, trying to run the student newscast, 99@9.
However, tonight it was empty. Silent. Erery. Spooky. At least it was to me but then again, I have a history of being a scaredy cat. We set cameras up throughout the basement with one pointed directly at the door that supposedly opened on its own.
Following a quick pizza break, we began our attempt to talk to the other side. After a quick tutorial on using dowsing rods by Dr. K, we had our first hit. In the center of the studio the rods crossed over each other without any wind from the AC units in the room.
Through a series of “Yes or No” questions, the spirit defined itself as a young female who was responsible for the movement of the blinds in the studio. She didn’t find herself trapped in the building and said she somewhat likedhanging around the building.
However, this spirit did not seem to be too chatty. After a couple of questions the rods began to move inconsistently and finally it stated that it did not want to be asked anymore questions. We decided to explore other floors to see if any other spirits inhabited the building.
We had our next hit in audio booth number three on the third floor and this one was quite the talker. This spirit was answering quiet fast and appeared to be able to move the dowsing rods quite easily. The spirit defined itself as female and was a house mother to students who lived in the building when it was a dorm. Just like the spirit in the basement studio, she did not feel trapped in Sanford and actually enjoyed residing here.
She enjoyed thestudents and was pleased with the changes to the building. While this spirit seemed to be quite the talker, her response became quite random. At times before a question was asked the dowsing rods would move on their own. Eventually the dowsing rods created a clear X with the intersecting angle consistently point at Chris.
After the spirit seemed to distracted by Chris to answer any questions, we ended our conversation.
We wandered around the building a bit more. As we walked up and down the hallway with the dowsing rods in hand we continued to ask “Is there anyone here?” We didn’t get an answer until we reach room 1011.
Ironically, this is the classroom that the Sincerely, Southern staff meets twice a week to go over assignments. Near the center of the room, the dowsing rods continued to cross over each other and we began to ask our yes/no questions.
The spirit identified himself as a young male who went to GSU in the50s. He had not lived in Sanford when it was a dorm but had a friend there who he would visit. Just as the other two spirits, he did not feel trapped in the building and enjoyed staying there. He enjoyed watching the Sincerely, Southern class produce the class’ magazine and even had a favorite student.
However, he did not wish to answer who his favorite student was. The atmosphere became much colder and somber when we asked about his death. I personally felt a chill. The spirit answered that he was a teenager when he passed away and was not able to graduate from the university. After naming off a list of illnesses that were fatal to that generation, the spirit confirmed that he had died of tuberculosis.
A cool hush was felt across the room when we received that answer. I’m not really sure what is polite to say when talking to a spirit about its own death. “I’m sorry” were the only words I could think to say. He confirmed that no one has ever tried to reach out to him before and he’s never made contact with anyone from the supernatural world.
Pretty soon his response via dowsing rod appeared to be growing weaker and weaker. Eventually, we thanked the spirit for his conversation and said goodbye. Our night concluded with an attempt to talk to spirits with the Hasbro Ouija board. Again, as I said before,
I’m historically a scaredy cat and was uneasy with this attempt to talk to the dead. I’m sure we’ve all hadthat superstitious grandparent that always told us to never to stuff like Ouija boards because the devil would get you. However, we were journalists on a mission and we persisted.
We first tried in the control room of the basement studio. With only a tiny lantern lighting the room Tandra called out, “Is there any spirits here who wish to speak to us?” Nothing happened. A hush fell over the room and the board did not move.
Tandra tried calling out a few more times until we eventually gave up and decided to try using the board in the studio itself. Again, with only a lantern to light the giant studio we all placed our hands on the board. Tandra called out again, “Is there any spirits her who wish to speak with us?”
The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Every tiny noise seemed to trigger me. All I could think of was every scary movie I had seen and thinking to myself “Oh shit, that’s me!” Eventually, we gave up.
Nothing was happening. I’m not sure if it was due to the fact that the spirits didn’t want to talk to us or if it was the level of quality we got out of our Hasbro Ouija board. Nothing odd was picked up from our audio or video. The door did not open on its own and the blinds did not move. Shadows did not mysteriously walk by and no one got possessed.
Looking back on the ghost hunt that night, I think the words of Michael Scott from “The Office” best describe how I feel, “I’m not superstitious but I am a little stitious.” I think both Brendan and I share similar takeaways from this ghost hunt.
There’s a part of us that want to believe that the stories and the tiny movements of the dowsing rods were all circunstancial. However, there is a part of us that want to believe that something was there that night that gave us an eerie feeling. All I know is that I may have slept with my head under the covers that night and
Brendan did confirm he slept with his bathroom light on. Regardless of what any of us believes one thing is for sure. Stories carry their own spirits with them and each building may carry its own significant haunting with it.
Even if the hauntings of Sanford Hall are not caused by the supernatural, the emotions behind the stories passed on from each graduating class and faculty member still haunt the halls and the spirit within Sanford Hall lives on.
We first tried in the control room of the basement studio. With only a tiny lantern lighting the room Tandra called out, “Is there any spirits here who wish to speak to us?” Nothing happened. A hush fell over the room and the board did not move. Tandra tried calling out a few more times until we eventually gave up and decided to try using the board in the studio itself.Again, with only a lantern to light the giant studio we all placed our hands on the board. Tandra called out again, “Is there any spirits her who wish to speak with us?” The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Every tiny noise seemed to trigger me. All I could think of was every scary movie I had seen and thinking to myself “Oh shit, that’s me!” Eventually, we gave up. Nothing was happening. I’m not sure if it was due to the fact that the spirits didn’t want to talk to us or if it was the level of quality we got out of our Hasbro Ouija board. Nothing odd was picked up from our audio or video. The door did not open on its own and the blinds did not move. Shadows did not mysteriously walk by and no one got possessed. Looking back on the ghost hunt that night, I think the words of Michael Scott from “The Office” best describe how I feel, “I’m not superstitious but I am a little stitious.” I think both Brendan and I share similar takeaways from this ghost hunt. There’s a part of us that want to believe that the stories and the tiny movements of the dowsing rods were all circunstancial. However, there is a part of us that want to believe that something was there that night that gave us an eerie feeling. All I know is that I may have slept with my head under the covers that night and Brendan did confirm he slept with his bathroom light on. Regardless of what any of us believes one thing is for sure. Stories carry their own spirits with them and each building may carry its own significant haunting with it. Even if the hauntings of Sanford Hall are not caused by the supernatural, the emotions behindthe stories passed on from each graduating class and faculty member still haunt the halls and the spirit within Sanford Hall lives on
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