The Collegian
Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Students take ghost tour of Westhampton Deanery

Halloween night brought many University of Richmond ghosts out to play for "UR Haunted," a Jeter and Freeman Hall connection held in the Westhampton Deanery.

UR Haunted invited students to take a candle-lit tour of the deanery and listen to the legends of its haunting, one of which includes the tale of Dean May Keller, who lived in the deanery until her death in June 29, 1964, according to urhistory.richmond.edu. Keller still resides in the deanery, but now it is her spirit that lives on, according to the legend.

"My favorite part was that the stories were real," sophomore Fatima Al-Bassam said. "It makes you know more about the university and its history."

Al-Bassam said she had never heard the historical stories told during UR Haunted before.

Other ghost legends included the pool ghost who haunts Modlin and the young girl who paces the catwalks in Booker.

To some students such as junior Randi Mansell, the stories were unrealistic.

"It was interesting hearing about some of the staff encounters with ghosts," Mansell said, "but I would have loved to been able to put a face on more of the supposed ghosts on campus in case I ever run into one."

In addition to listening to the ghost stories, participants were invited to watch "Cry Wolf," a murder mystery filmed on campus in 2005, according to imdb.com.

"It's scary to see places on campus in a horror movie," Mansell said. "[It] makes me think twice about wandering alone on campus at night."

UR Haunted was hosted by the residence hall staffs of Freeman and Jeter and Reed West, professor of theatre and dance. The program was led by Charlotte McPherson, head resident of Jeter and Freeman halls, said Charm Bullard, associate dean for residence life.

"[Charlotte] did a phenomenal job with assistance from the entire Jeter and Freeman RA staff and the two Westhampton College area coordinators, Laura Cilia and Sarah Everette," Bullard said.

The purpose of UR Haunted was to celebrate Halloween without alcohol, Bullard said.

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She said the goal of Westhampton College residence life was to provide opportunities for students to have fun without consuming alcohol. "We know there is a lot of pressure to consume alcohol so we try to provide folks other options," she said.

The Westhampton College RAs created the deanery's Halloween aura by putting up spider webs, using light machines and playing ghoulish, eerie noises.

Mansell said the noises achieved their purpose in startling students: "My favorite part about it had to be the screams and banging doors. I have been alone at night in the deanery and it is a pretty scary place without all the noises."

Because of the program's success, Bullard said UR Haunted would become an annual festivity.

Contact staff writer Valerie Jama at valerie.jama@richmond.edu

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