Arts

Ghost Hunter Fails to Summon Harriet Beecher Stowe

“Does Harriet Beecher Stowe play RuneScape?” This question, posed by Ghost Hunter Jeff Davis last Saturday was never given a response, despite the use of the Electronic Voice Phenomenon Recorder (a.k.a. tape recorder), allegedly meant for communication with the spirits of the graveyard. The only playback was of leaves rustling and snickering from the crowd. We had all piled into Kemper auditorium, filling every seat and spreading out across the floor and even onto the stage, to see the mysterious Ghost Hunter on Halloween, but we were severely disappointed with the show. Instead of a ghost-hunting demonstration or a campus wide ghost-hunt, we spent the first hour and a half watching a man give a presentation about ghouls and listening to him recite anecdotes of the supernatural. Davis started the event with an uninteresting Powerpoint presentation that stretched almost half an hour long. I would guess that the duration of the presentation was about three times as long as it took Davis to come up with the information. Purported to offer a full “ghost education,” it simply reiterated the same clichéd themes as “Ghostbusters” and “Casper the Friendly Ghost” about spirits that cannot move on to the next world, with nothing new or particularly informative. After that, Davis gave us some less-than-riveting anecdotal evidence about his personal experiences with the undead. He claimed – no doubt attempting humor – that he once checked the girls’ bathroom in a hotel only to find that the seats of the toilets were up. He also offered us recordings of ghosts that he had captured on his Electronic Voice Phenomenon Recorder. On the first tape, we heard some banging, as if on wood. The second revealed something clattering to the floor. Suffice it to say that the audience was less than enthralled. So what did the Ghost Hunter do to re-capture our teenage imaginations? He told us that we might be able to experience our own ghostly encounter. We all walked out to the graveyard and our fearless leader told us that no matter what happened, we needed to keep our heads and remain rational. (Also: no running.) Once we reached the top of the graveyard, we all gathered around Harriet Beecher Stowe’s tombstone and Davis explained how we were to contact her. He had his Electronic Voice Phenomenon Recorder handy, as well as an Electro-Magnetic Field Detector, which he gave to a student to monitor the “spectral activity.” He told the group to become as quiet as possible; he would then touch someone who would be permitted to ask the ghost a question. Once the crowd was quiet, he touched the nearest person. “Are you Harriet Beecher Stowe?” Another touch. “Are you a ghost?” Another touch. “Do you play RuneScape?” We all gathered in close to hear what the specter had to say on the Voice Phenomenon Recorder. “Are you Harriet Beecher Stowe?” Nothing. “I think I heard something,” said the Davis. “But I can’t make anything specific out.” There was nothing to hear unless ghosts speak in the language of rustling leaves and miscellaneous background noise. But were the ghosts just being quiet? I checked with Alex Gray ’10, who was assigned to monitor the needle of the Electro-Magnetic Field Detector. “Yeah, the ‘Electro-Magnetic Field Detector’ never moved. It just stayed in the same place the entire time,” said Gray. “Given ten minutes of preparation and twenty dollars, I could give a presentation, go on a walk to the graveyard and wave around a tape recorder,” said Dylan Rhodes ’10. “Why couldn’t the school have used the money they used to bring the Ghost Hunter and make a cool Halloween party instead?” The consensus reached by the audience and myself was that Jeff Davis Ghost Hunter was a letdown, and this event was a huge waste of the participants’ time and the school’s money.