Investigating campus hauntings with the MSU Paranormal Society

Think you know the history of Michigan State University’s campus? How about Mayo Hall’s mysterious red room? The supposed sightings of ghostly apparitions near Beaumont Tower and Holmes Hall? Or the alleged paranormal activity at Yakeley and Gilchrist Hall?

The student-run MSU Paranormal Society is out to shake up your perception of the school with urban legends and a foreboding tour of some of these haunted campus hot spots.

Co-president Josh Lathan, a senior psychology major, has been fascinated by the paranormal since he was a child. Lathan grew up in a house he felt had strange, macabre activity that couldn’t be explained by the mortal plane. Or, more simply put, the house was sort of creepy.

“I didn’t believe it was haunted at first, but I do now. Looking back, I saw a few weird things. My sister would wake up and see two little boys, or their mom, standing in a room staring at her and a whole bunch of other weird stuff,” Lathan said.

Lathan was a victim to the haunting as well.

“I would be sitting in my room late at night. Everyone else in the house would be asleep and I would feel someone grab my shoulder, but there’d be nobody in the room. Things happened that I have no explanation for.”

Lathan will help lead tours and investigations around MSU’s campus throughout the month of October, and will also be a guide for visits to off-campus locations such as Bath Memorial Park.

The Paranormal Society also takes attendees on communal ghost hunts and MSU is said to have a few spirits of its own. For example, Beaumont Tower is allegedly host to the ghost of a World War II solider.

“Supposedly there’s a soldier who was a student here, a soldier in World War II who ended up dying. People say he’ll show up every night at midnight and wander around the tower,” Lathan said.

Mayo Hall’s “Red Room” is another popular breeding ground for student rumors of bizarre sightings and behavior.

“Supposedly, in the ‘70s and ‘80s, in the common room of the top floor, a whole bunch of students conducted séances and performed weird, maybe satanic, rituals,” Lathan said. “MSU denies any of that happens, but that’s the legend that’s on campus, and now that whole floor is closed off. You can’t get up there because there’s asbestos.”

The MSU Paranormal Society has been exploring the dark side of the university since 2013. Like conventional ghost hunting groups, the Paranormal Society has employed recording devices to capture alleged electronic voice phenomenon — voices of spirits accidentally caught on tape. This evidence is available for listening on the group’s website,

What makes MSU a hotbed for the macabre? Lathan suggests that its old age gives the school a leg up on developing a spooky folklore. As time passes, tragedies occur and that feeds into people’s perception of what’s described as paranormal.

“A lot of things have happened since then, and a lot of people have died on this campus,” Lathan said.

Lathan’s studies in psychology has given him a sort of fourth-wall breaking knowledge about how paranormal thrill-seeking culture persists. As he explains it, the mind often sees what it wants to see. Especially when a person walks into a site with the preconceived notion that it’s “haunted.”

“If you go in somewhere already knowing the story about what people see, there’s a good chance you’re going to see it too,” Lathan said. “The brain likes to fill in gaps. Which is why optical illusions work. The optic illusion isn’t moving, but your brain sees it as moving, because that’s what it expects it to do.”

On a scale of one to 10 — with one being absolute skepticism and 10 being total faith in the paranormal — Lathan ranks himself exactly in the middle.

“Five. I have to see it with my own eyes, or hear it with my own ears, before I’ll actually believe somewhere is haunted.”

Apparitions & Archaeology: A Haunted Campus

Tour Tuesday, Oct. 30, 7 p.m. Free Beaumont Tower 375 W Circle Dr., East Lansing


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