Published: Thursday, January 17, 2008
Updated: Saturday, March 14, 2009 17:03
It's that time of year again. Pumpkins cover house porches, students are put¬ting the final touches on their costumes and TV is a constant bombardment of Halloween specials.
We've all tuned to one channel or another and come across a special Halloween program, often depicting some type of a ghost hunt.
You see people all geared up complete with night vision goggles and voice detectors. They then head off into a torture chamber of an abandoned mental asylum to "communicate" with the beyond.
You, however, don't need to locate an abandoned mental ward or a thermal heat sensor to find a hair-raising experience of your own. It's lurking right around the corner.
According to "Green Mountains, Dark Tales" written by Joseph A. Citro, UVM has the greatest number of haunted buildings in Vermont.
The Vermont Agency of Paranormal Organized Research (VAPOR) team investigates and determines the cause of different types of hauntings that occur throughout Vermont.
The VAPOR Web site lists 14 buildings on campus as being haunted.
As part of their commitment to revealing the truth about ghosts, the team will usually arrive at a sight and interview the owner to get a sense of what exactly has been happening and where. After they have gathered background knowledge they move onto the site to begin investigating.
Robert Bessest is the VAPOR team historian and manager. He said that the VAPOR team uses a varying assortment of cameras, voice recorders and thermal heat sensors to get to the bottom of paranormal activity.
Besset explained that Infrared. cameras are set up at activity hot spots throughout the site. They are equipped with a microphone so that they can capture video as well as audio within the area. These videos are then reviewed to locate an answer for the paranormal activity.
Besset also discussed the team's use of voice recorders to pick up EVP - electronic voice phenomena. The VAPOR team will enter a site during the night and explore it with the voice recorders. Afterwards they play them back to see if anything abnormal was picked up.
Many people claim they become instantly cold whenever they feel a ghost or presence is around them. For this reason, Besset said, the VAPOR uses temperature gauges.
According to Besset, VAPOR will use temperature gauges to see if there is a drastic difference in temperature from one area to another. He also states that he does not set much faith in this practice because it rarely shows results.
The use of EMF detectors is also important to investigating claims Besset. EMF is short for electromagnetic force. Ghosts will sometimes radiate EMF. In older houses with less wiring and appliances, the VAPOR team uses this to locate a possible presence or ghost.
Besset listed the four main types of hauntings: intelligent, residual, poltergeists and portal. The majority of the ghosts and hauntings at UVM fall under the first two categories.
Intelligent hauntings are described as a person's personality remaining after they have passed. They are usually annoying and seek attention, but generally do not pose a threat.
Besset states that this type of haunting is identified by slamming of doors, flickering of lights, cold chills, odd sounds and a strong presence. The ghost will often misplace people's belongings or break them in order to attract attention to itself.
Ghosts in this category generally pull antics that you would expect from a needy, younger sibling.
The second type of haunting documented on-campus is residual. This type is characterized by an image replaying over and over according to Besset. Often the same formation will appear and repeat the same movements or actions repeatedly.
These types of hauntings are a definite presence but unlike the intelligent hauntings, they do not interact with people. They are often described as disembodied sounds and noises. The most popular form it takes is the reoccurring sound of footsteps running up or down stairs when no one is present.
The paranormal activity on campus ranges from door slamming and hushed voices in the Living and Learning C-complex stairwell leading to B-complex to full-fledged sightings of actual ghosts in the Bittersweet House.
From administrative buildings to residential dorms, there is plenty of ghost activity on-campus to get you in the mood for Halloween.
Take Redstone Hall for instance: According to the VAPOR Web site, Redstone Hall is home to an intelligence haunting. There is a presence of a male ghost in the back stairwell. He has been known to chase students out of the area and move through walls.
Residents of Redstone Hall claimed that the ghost targets female students, who he is not particularly fond of. The VAPOR Web site indicates that this may have something to do with the circumstances of his death, but that is unclear.
Residents also claimed at times female students' feet have become unexplainably cold when walking through the stairwell. Other students expressed feeling a strong presence in the stairwell with them.
The Converse residence hall is probably the most well known haunted area on UVM campus. With its massive, foreboding appearance it's not hard to believe Converse would be home to otherworldly spirits.
Citro wrote that back in the 1920s an overworked, lonely UVM medical student named Henry hung himself in the attic of Converse. Ever since, there have been reports of paranormal activity within the building.
Citro mentions possessions going missing, doors opening and shutting and objects moving. He also states that Henry appears to be more of a prankster than a threatening presence. His ghost epitomizes an intelligence haunting.
The residence director for Converse, Virginia Olin, stated that she had heard of a few accounts of residents interacting with Henry. Many students heard footsteps running up and down the stairs when no one was present.