Ghost hunter hopes to find paranormal activity at Centre
With Halloween just around the corner, tales of haunted houses and paranormal activity abound. Centre has its fair share of ghost stories, and one man is hoping to prove them true this week.
Dustin Pari, a self-proclaimed ‘paranormal researcher’ who has been featured on the SyFy Network’s “Ghost Hunters,” will be on campus on Friday Oct. 28 to explore Centre’s reputedly haunted buildings.
“We were looking for some fun activities to host during October and thought students would get a kick out of this program,” says Kendrick Durham, director of campus activities. “We were fortunate that anyone was available so close to Halloween, since this is one of their busier times.”
Students will be able to interact with Pari while he’s on campus: he’ll give a presentation in Cowan after dinner on Friday night, followed by a trek around campus to seek out paranormal activity.
“Dustin will be showing clips from past ghost hunts while discussing what it’s like to be a professional ghost hunter,” Durham says. “He’ll then lead students on a tour of supposed haunted places on campus using paranormal investigation equipment. The idea is to let students have the same experience they would have if they were on the show.”
Pari will likely start his ghost tour on campus in Sutcliffe Hall. Ann Young, director of student life and housing, remembers strange things happening in the building when the Student Life Office was housed there.
“Sometimes I’d be in the building alone and would hear basketballs bouncing in Bowman Gym,” Young says. “I would go right to the gym door and look in, and there was never anyone in the gym playing basketball. But I could definitely hear the ball bounce.”
The activity in Sutcliffe has been explained by some on campus as the ghost of a man who died there years ago. The ghost made his presence clear during the renovation of Sutcliffe in 2005.
“There were several times the construction workers would leave and, when they came back, their tools would be missing or moved from where they had left them,” Young says. “The ghost is still very much around.”
Breckinridge Hall has also been the site of notable inexplicable activity. One particular instance in the mid-1990s rattled Young and other members of the staff.
“At that time, someone from the SLO and from Facilities Management would check every room on campus during the summer. Karen Harp was with Ed Sullivan in Breck, and when they came upon a particular room, they literally saw a ghost,” Young says. “There was a large face on a wall. They originally thought someone had drawn it there, but it wouldn’t wash off. They came back pretty spooked by it.”
Young and Director of Facilities Management Wayne King went to investigate for themselves later that day.
“They didn’t even tell us what room it had happened in beforehand. We checked rooms on a couple of floors, and finally we opened one particular room door. To the wall on the right was a large male face — very detailed, with eyebrows, eyes, a nose, a mouth and hair,” Young says. “Wayne wondered if an art student was playing around. He tried to rub it off, but it wouldn’t rub.”
King placed a work order to have the face painted over, but when the paint crew went to the room the next day, they found no trace of a face anywhere. Later that year, Channel 27 came to Centre with a psychic to do a story on the paranormal activity in Breckinridge Hall.
“The psychic made Wayne, Karen and I stay in the lobby because she said we would have given off vibes to the ghost,” Young says. “We didn’t tell her the room number, so she went through the entire building. She used dousing rods, and when she got to that room, the rods spread apart.”
The psychic claimed to have communicated with the ghost, who identified himself as a young man named Peter who had once worked on the grounds crew at Centre.
“She said he chose to live in Breck to look over the grounds, and that he liked being around the women in Breck because they made him feel cared for,” Young says. “He’s been very quiet since that night.”
While a tool will still sometimes go missing or a window will shut suddenly, paranormal activity on Centre’s campus has been at a minimum as of late. But with a ghost hunter on campus this week, maybe that’s all about to change.