Giving up the Ghosts

College of Wooster President invites departed spirits to come out of hiding

October 11, 2012 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — As Halloween and Day of the Dead approach, College of Wooster President Grant Cornwell has decided to “give up the ghost” and allow the departed spirits who reside in various “haunts” on campus to remain in perpetuity.

“It’s no use,” says the president, now in his sixth year as Wooster’s chief executive officer. “These spirits have been here a lot longer than the rest of us, and except for an occasional wisp or creak in the middle of the night, they have been good citizens. So I say, ‘let them stay and feel welcome.’”

The proclamation is consistent with the president’s commitment to diversity, which encourages openness and acceptance of all people — living or dead — regardless of race, religion, or supernatural origin.

Legend has it that these spirits reside in several locales on campus, most notably Babcock Hall, Holden Hall, Freedlander Theatre, and Westminster Cottage. Exactly who they are is uncertain, but speculation is that there may be several departed faculty members seeking to scare current undergraduates into studying more diligently; a few deceased dining services employees hoping to frighten students into eating more broccoli and fewer French Fries; a couple of dead presidents lamenting the fact that there’s no longer a dress code; and at least one custodian who accidently locked himself in an attic in 1937 and hasn’t been seen since.

“I will admit that I am not comfortable when these spirits spook our students at 2 a.m., but let’s face it, most undergraduates are awake at that time anyway,” says Cornwell. “So, I would like to invite our invisible residents to come forward and make themselves known to us.”

In order to do that, Cornwell has called upon Wooster’s expert on the dead and undead, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology Pam Frese, who stages elaborate “Day of the Dead” celebrations just about every year on campus.

“Dr. Frese has a gift for communicating with the spirits, so I am appointing her to extend the invitations,” says Cornwell. “Besides, I am little afraid to do it on my own.”