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Myth or reality? Ghosts at the UA

CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Undeclared freshman Kristle Slason recreates a rumored suicide in the Maricopa Residence Hall. Legend has it that a Maricopa
By Nathan Tafoya
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 31, 2003

There are tales of ghosts and unexplainable phenomena circulating the University of Arizona.

With a campus that's cluttered with old, brick buildings and plumbed with state-oföthe-ancient toilets and faucets, that might not be surprising. Within the UA community, encounters with the supernatural have become as unpredictable as running into a creepy pervert.

One the UA's most infamous stories is about the ghost of Maricopa Residence Hall.

Urban legend has it that a resident killed herself there. The circumstances surrounding her death, however, change depending on the person talking about it.

Susan Metzger, an art history senior and former Maricopa resident, said the story she heard was based on the premise of the hall being the UA president's mansion.

"The version I heard was that his daughter was engaged to be married and she found her fiancŽ with another woman, and so she hung herself," Metzger said. "I've heard it was on the third floor and I've heard it was on the second floor and I've heard it was in the basement. So it's random."

The hall was first proposed by UA President Arthur Herbert Wilde in 1914 and constructed between 1918 and 1921; however, it was never the president's mansion.

"I've never seen the ghost when I lived here," Metzger said. "My friend Danielle said she saw her, but I think she was drunk."

Maricopa's basement is no tipsy joke though.

"The basement here is really, really scary," Metzger said. "It has a bunch of locked doors. Nothing leads to anything · just storage stuff."

The creepy space has inspired some students' creativity.

... his daughter was engaged to be married and she found her fiancŽ with another woman, and so she hung herself. ÷ Susan Metzger
former Maricopa resident

Regina Pendegraft took vintage-looking photos of another student in order to recreate the ghost who strung herself up. Students can ask at Maricopa's front desk to view the photos.

Associate Director of Residence Life Patrick Call has occupied the hall in past summers and said there are people who swear they have seen the ghost.

"I never saw her," he said. "I would have liked to, but I never did."

Old Main's custodian, Andy Martinez, has heard more than just rumors during his late night shifts cleaning the UA's oldest building.

Martinez said he has seen clocks fall off of the wall and heard water fountains recharge when he was the only person in the creaky building.

But one thing in particular has given him the chills every night for the past month and a half.

Martinez said around 10 p.m. one night, he was standing next to a wall on the second floor, when he heard a knock.

Martinez said he stood still for a moment and looked at the glass door leading outside, knowing all the doors behind him were locked. He did not see anyone. Then he heard a second knock.

"I knew nobody was at the door and I knew nobody was here," he said. "And of course there's nobody back there. I mean, it's just storage." Martinez pointed behind the wall located in the heart of the building.

Martinez said he stood still in the hallway again, looking at the wall · until he heard a third knock.

"And I was like, ÎWait a minute, I know I'm not hearing things,'" he said. Martinez then yelled at the unknown knocker to come in, and the knocking stopped.

Since that night, Martinez said he gets freaked out when he passes by the area.

Some ghosts give a more theatrical performance when they decide to spook members of the UA community.

"There are reportedly ghosts throughout the Marroney Theatre that I've had a few encounters with and that students have had encounters with as well," said theatre arts associate professor Jeff Warburton.

Warburton said students have seen "Gene the Ghost" during theatrical performances.

Gene Lafferty was Warburton's predecessor, whom Warburton replaced as technical director.

Warburton said he has heard steps in the theatre when he was there by himself and has experienced cold gusts of air brush over him.

One time, he lost his keys and was alone in the

auditorium when he heard his keys fall from an audience seat.

From jinxed productions like "The Crucible," to bad omens and phrases like "break a leg," the stage has always been a little superstitious.

"I think artists are more sensitive than people," Warburton said, explaining why this might be. But he does not believe ghosts hurt anyone.

"They're not harmful at all," he said. "You usually hurt yourself running like hell."

Other scary campus stories have a lighter tone to them. Some students in the stadium residence halls have designated room 480 to "Harry the Ghost."

According to Michelle Ruppelt, a nutritional sciences junior, room 480 is an unfinished facility not large enough to be a dorm room and too small to be anything else.

"It was kind of a joke," Ruppelt said. "There's supposedly an unidentified ghost running around."

Ruppelt said the stadium residence halls have empty elevator shafts and unexplainable drafts and noises, which add to an overall feeling of eeriness. She said has not seen anything supernatural though.

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