Lights flicker. Ghouls at school?

By Julia Corrigan and Shanna O’Mara

ghostA dorm door slams in the middle of the night, awakening a frightened student while fears of ghosts dance in her head. Noise is not a rarity on campus; spirits that haunt the living may not be either.

Every year on Rider’s campus, stories emerge of students stating that personal items have moved, doors close with no one present and lights flicker after being fixed. It could all be explained through science or technical difficulties, but some students choose to believe ghosts are present on campus.

Lake House is one of the reported residence halls that students claim to be haunted. Justin Giachetti, junior theater performance major, said that he is naturally clairvoyant and spiritual energies speak to him.

“There were two instances on Rider’s campus that were the most chilling to me,” he said. “Freshman year, I lived in Lake House. One night, after I really started getting into the supernatural with tarot and spirituality, I was awoken at 3 a.m. by my door slamming.

“The room went very cold, more January feeling than the November air. I turned over and asked my roommate, who I thought entered, to keep it down. The [ghostly] figure then slammed down on my roommates’s bed and stared at me with bright blue eyes, bright enough to see in the dark.

“I went back to sleep, and awoke again to my roommate slamming the door; however, it was 8 a.m. and he looked like he had been out all night. When I questioned him about why he came in so angrily earlier, he said he had been at his friend’s dorm all night. It was then I really noticed his eyes were dark brown, not the blue I’d seen earlier that morning.”

Junior business education major Victoria Duffy has witnessed a similar figure in Lake House multiple times over the past two years while serving as a Resident Advisor.

“During my first day there last spring, I was moving in,” Duffy said. “It was only me and the Resident Director in the building. I was in the male hallway, and I noticed the stairwell door was open. On the right-hand side, I saw a male figure about six feet tall, dressed in a dark green shirt and dark jeans. I turned back around, and he was gone.

“The next day, I heard a male’s voice while in the bathroom. Around the same time the next day, I heard a female’s voice coming from the same lobby area. And when I was leaving my room one day during summer training this year, I saw a petite female figure, dressed in all black; I couldn’t make out a face or any features.

“Before everyone moved in, I was on duty. I was hanging our block of keys on the door. I looked down, and there were three scratches going down my arm. I know I hadn’t scratched myself. I was finishing my door decorations, and I saw the male figure standing there staring at me three different times.”

Alumna Erica Hoff, ’14, also experienced supernatural events during her time at Rider.

“I would sense things in the laundry room of Lake House,” she said. “I never saw anyone or anything specifically, but the room always felt occupied by someone other than myself. It was creepy. I didn’t like being there, especially when I was alone. I started bringing my laundry home on the weekends.”

Giachetti also noticed a presence while he was at the campus radio station, 107.7 The Bronc.

“I was doing a tarot card reading for a friend in the back room,” he said. “As I was flipping the card, I felt an icy pressure — like a hand — pressing against my chest. I tried to flip another card, and the feeling got stronger. I took a step away from the cards, and the feeling went away. I never concluded that reading, and to this day I only read cards in the lobby, where I have plenty of witnesses.”

During a ghost tour two years ago, the Princeton Tour Company told students about the spirit of a young boy that runs around the top floor of Sweigart Hall early in the morning. The boy was rumored to have lived here when the area was still a cranberry bog. He enjoyed playing pranks on his father, and one day, he hid in the turbine used to harvest the berries. Unaware of his son’s location, the father turned the mechanism on, killing his child. Students and faculty have claimed to have seen the boy around campus.

The company also reported stories of a female presence in the Yvonne Theater. Named after Yvonne Alexander Spitznagel who passed away in 1999, the theater may be home to her spirit. Students have reported sitting in the chair she has been seen in and feeling a rush of chills and electricity.

Junior theater studies major Jenna Moschella said that her first dorm definitely had a ghostly presence that she thought was a female.

“My freshman year, I lived in room A103 in Conover, and the whole hall was haunted,” she said. “People’s lights would go out all the time, and they would get them fixed. Then, they would go out a week later, and the bulbs would keep exploding. It was the ghost.

“I also personally had a few problems. The doors would always open. I would be sitting on my bed, and the bathroom door would swing open into the bathroom and hit the wall. I would always find things open and things out of place, too.”

The medicine cabinet in Conover A103 would always open as well, according to Moschella. 

“I had my own bathroom, and I was in the shower when the door opened,” she said. “There was the sound of the medicine cabinet, and it would be open when I got out [of the shower]. I would like to think it was the ghost.”

Moschella is not the only one who felt the presence. Other residents in the building on different floors noticed it as well.

“I felt like there was a spirit or something in that building,” said junior arts administration major Delaney Smith.

Alumna Carlee Augliera, ’14, never lived in Conover but reports having witnessed spiritual activity while visiting friends there.

“My friend’s room was definitely haunted,” Augliera said. “The lights would flicker and the TV would randomly turn off when we were watching it. It happened multiple times so I knew it wasn’t a joke; no one was messing with us. For a while, I tried to convince myself that it was electrical problems, but I have a strange feeling that wasn’t the case.”

Similar stories have been reported in other residence halls around campus.

“When my roommate and I moved into our room in Hill Hall this year, we were eating food and talking with the light on,” sophomore journalism major Hayley Fahey said. “All of a sudden, the light started flickering multiple times, completely shut off and then suddenly turned back on again. This has not stopped since. It still happens multiple times a week.”

Sophomore behavioral neuroscience major Jennifer Londregan lives on the third floor of Switlik Hall and said she hears strange sounds, mostly at night.

“The bathroom in Switlik freaks me out,” Londregan said. “The hand dryer randomly turns on and off when no one is using it. No one even walks by; it just turns on its own. I can hear it when I’m in the shower and from down the hall at night, and it just gives me a weird feeling.”

Although these tales paint an interesting picture of the university, Rider historian Dr. Walter A. Brower confirmed that he has not seen significant evidence of spiritual activity during his years of research.

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