Forgotten Ohio: Kent State University


Kent State is best known for a very real horror story. Thanks to the shooting of four student protestors in May of 1970, the name Kent State, like the University of Texas, is synonymous with tragedy. This isn't really fair, of course, because as any student will tell you, there's a lot more to their school than National Guard troops and Neil Young songs. You can read about the the college's hauntings below. To read personal encounters with Kent State ghosts, check out this page.




Stopher Hall


It's gone now--demolished in mid-2004--but for many years this Kent campus landmark was said to be very haunted. A resident who committed suicide was most often associated with the disturbances. When it was occupied, kids developed health problems they blamed on the ghost. Then again, it might have had something to do with the asbestos. People frequently saw things moving--things like a chair violently kicked aside by an unseen foot. There might be some truth to the Stopher Hall legend; a resident there did apparently commit suicide, but he did it at home on break. Still, some insist that he was discovered hanging in his dorm room, and that you could see his silhouette through the window ever after, still hanging where they found him. He was known to reenact his suicide, continually kicking the chair out from under the pipe he hung himself from. The bodies of the student protesters killed at Kent during the Vietnam War were kept in the Stopher lobby for a brief while; read more about those ghosts further down. For good examples of all sorts of weird happenings in this building, including the the floating face and other Stopher legends, look through the Tales from Kent State.




Allyn Hall


A little girl named Sarah roams the halls of this building. She tugs on bedsheets and does other creepy little-kid-ghost things, like asking people to play with her.




Clark Hall


Clark is attached to Allyn Hall and may be haunted by the same girl ghost. An e-mail I received told the story of two girls who dormed together in Clark Hall. One night they said goodnight to each other and heard a little girl say "goodnight" from the middle of the darkened room.




Engleman Hall


Built in the 1930s as an all-girls dorm, this building is haunted by the ghost of a girl who was raped and murdered by a jealous admirer in the forties or fifties. She walks the halls at night and is sometimes seen over a shoulder in a mirror.




Koonce Hall


Judy Koonce herself haunts this building in the Tri-Towers unit. She is apparently very judgmental, and will treat people she likes with respect, opening elevators for them and such, while mistreating loud or destructive people. Judy supposedly died saving a child during a flood in Kent years ago.




Van Campen Hall


Mysterious occurrences abound in this residence hall. Giggling is heard occasionally at night, and a mysterious "marble sound"--like that of a handful of marbles being dropped on a hardwood floor--sometimes comes from the ceiling in the dorm rooms. A resident advisor there once saw a face not his own reflected in a bathroom mirror; he did the sensible thing and ran out without asking any questions. For more details on the haunting of Van Campen Hall, read the Tales from Kent State.




Moulton Hall


Police are sometimes called to investigate sightings of a mysterious blue light seen floating on the third floor of Moulton.




Music and Speech Building


Room B-005 (called Boo-5 by students), also a theater in the round, is haunted by something. Another ghost present here is that of G. Harry Wright, one of the original theater directors at the University. He haunts the Wright-Curtis Theater, and you can tell when he's near by the pungent smell of his cigar smoke--unusual in a building that's been smoke-free for more than ten years.




Ghosts of the Kent State Shootings


The black day that put Kent on the map has its own wide assortment of attendant legends. As a major event in the history of organized protest, the Vietnam War, and the Nixon presidency, it has been pored over and dissected for three and a half decades. Credible studies--most notably William Gordon's Four Dead in Ohio--have shown pretty conclusively that the soldiers opened fire on the crowd in unison, in response to an order of some sort, though it's not clear who gave the order. Two eyewitnesses on campus (coincidentally, both former Marines who saw action in Vietnam) testified that they observed a "fire" hand signal given by one of the officers, but identification was never possible because most of the men had removed their nametags.


A memorial event is held on campus every May 4 in honor of the four victims: Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and Bill Schroeder. Nine others were hit but not killed. Two of those killed weren't even participating in the protest, but were simply on their way to class. See May 4, 1970.com for more information about the Kent State events each May.


The college hasn't always been eager to commemorate the student shootings. In 1977 they began a project to build a gymnasium on parts of campus where key events related to May 4 occurred, prompting more than 200 protestors to occupy a tent city on the spot. They held out for two years, but the gymnasium was eventually built. Now there's a plaque and a small memorial on Daffodil Hill.


Also present on campus is the creepiest memorial you're likely to see anywhere outside the Holocaust Museum: four blocked-off grave-shaped plots in and around the parking lot at Prentice Hall, where the crowd was when it took the Guardsmen's bullets. Each one represents the exact spot where one of the slain students fell.


Where they fell: Alison Krause, Jeff Miller, Sandra Scheuer, Bill Schroeder

A single, ghostly light has remained lit at the head of each plot since they were put here in 1999. It's said that the students haunt their respective plots, reenacting that violent day in 1970 when they lost their lives. Their ghosts were frequently encountered in the commons area of Stopher Hall (see above), where their bodies were taken right after the incident and kept for several hours. And finally, each one of them may haunt the dorm room or apartment where they lived; this story is persistent and has been described in conjunction with a number of different campus housing units, but no one seems sure exactly where any of them lived. Even the Kent Stater had trouble tracking down this information.


Bullet holes from the May 4 massacre still pockmark walls and sculpture near Prentice Hall. Whether or not the four students murdered that day haunt the campus, their presence will always be an integral part of Kent State.



Kent.edu
Tales from Kent State - Personal Encounters with the Paranormal
Kent State Trumbull Campus - Hauntings
Daily Kent Stater Article: "Ghosts Among Us"
Ohio's Haunted Colleges
May Fourth Task Force
May 4, 1970 - Memorial Page



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Sources

Beatty, Shannon. "Ghosts Among Us." Daily Kent Stater. March 5, 1999.

Gordon, William A. Four Dead in Ohio. Lake Forest, CA: North Ridge Books, 1995.