IU students were able to experience IU’s haunted history at 7 p.m. Oct. 28 through the annual Campus Ghost Walk on an online platform this year.
The Folklore and Ethnomusicology Student Association has been in charge of planning and running the event for the past eight years. According to Sydney Seigel, co-president of the association and an IU senior, the Ghost Walk was originally sponsored by the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology until around 2000. The student association started to run the ghost walk in 2012 and it has been the organization's largest event ever since.
“It is very cool,” Seigel said. “Ghost walk is something that's been a part of this campus for a long time. It just fell away for a little bit and now it's back.”
The event features a variety of tales from IU’s history told by staff, graduate and undergraduate student storytellers. The tour takes attendees across campus and deep into the history of IU.
“It's so interesting to learn about our campus and about our school, but you're also learning about the culture that's kind of made it what it is today,” Seigel said.
This year, the walk was held over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Seigel said this required the student association to adapt to the loss of in-person elements. However, it has enabled them to share stories they weren’t able to before.
“Each year, we choose different stories and we also vaguely change the story route,” Seigel said. “Everything is generally pretty geographically bounded by, where we can walk to. This year we don't have that as much, so we're telling some stories from other parts of campus. We're telling some stories that you know just are generally lost.”
Seigel says the biggest loss was related to the human components of the walk as guests will no longer be in the same physical locations of the stories.
“We have tried to compensate for that so we have visuals for every location that we're going, and we're trying to mimic it as much as possible,” Seigel said. “I got permission from the IMU to go in and take photos of rooms and some of the images that we talked about.”
IU senior Anjali Bhatt became involved in the Folklore and Ethnomusicology Student Association last January and currently serves as co-president.
Bhatt helped plan this year's event by creating the interactive map that served as a backdrop to this year's stories.
“Part of the reason that I ended up creating that interactive map was because we wanted some kind of visual, so it wasn't just us throwing stories at people,” Bhatt said.
The online platform also enabled the student association to share the stories of IU to a wider audience.
“We are hoping that the webinar platform allows for people across the state and across the country to actually attend,” Seigel said. “My family who lives way up in the north. They're coming.”
This year, the walk took attendees from Third Street to central campus and finally to the Jesse H. and Beulah Chanley Cox Arboretum. Storytellers told various tales of ghosts and creepy occurrences across campus. When the walk arrived at the Indiana Memorial Union , one storyteller told the tales of two haunted paintings. One painting, the speaker said, has caused silverware to become unwrapped during the night in the Tudor Room.
Bhatt said the student association was originally worried about creating an authentic ghost walk experience online, so it spent a lot of time picking which stories to tell and what visuals to put behind them.
“We just put a lot of thought into making sure that it was relevant and interesting to everyone," Bhatt said. “I think the fact that we also handpick storytellers, asking people who would put time and effort into presenting these stories well will say a lot."