For most of us, Halloween is the one time a year that we enjoy being spooked, going to haunted houses and watching scary movies. That being said, it’s probably safe to say that hardly any of us would actively try to find ghosts in haunted places. For the few who do, there’s a club on campus that’s perfect for them – and they don’t just try to find ghosts on Halloween, they do it year-round. Meet the Paranormal Research Society, Penn State’s very own ghost busters.
Andrew Homka, a senior geographic information science major and the vice president of PRS, says that the mission is to pursue paranormal phenomena and have a fun time while doing it.
“Our official thing is to investigate, document, and experience paranormal activity,” adds Rachel Moeser, a senior nutritional sciences major and president of PRS.
Meetings usually consist of tons of planning, whether for an investigation or social events. Moeser says it’s very important for the club to get to know one another and feel comfortable with each other.
“Going on investigations, you’re in unfamiliar locations which are usually pitch-dark. You have to trust who you’re there with in case someone would fall and get injured. Everybody needs to trust everyone else there.”
But the meetings aren’t just about the trips they’re planning.
“We talk about paranormal stuff, if people have questions or if they’ve had an experience and want to talk about it,” says Homka.
For all of the planning they do, Moeser says they don’t do investigations as often as they would like, but they typically get to one once a month. She says they do their best not to interfere with football and canning weekends so everybody in the club has an equal opportunity to go on the investigation.
As far the investigations go, they haven’t gone farther than two or three hours away, and they do investigate on-campus as well. Of course, they go to everybody’s creepy favorite study location – The Stacks – and the reportedly-haunted Schwab Auditorium.
“We try talking to Betsy Aardsma, the girl that was killed there,” says Moeser of The Stacks. “She’s very quiet as to whether she’s there or not. Previous members of the club say that they’ve gotten a female voice and they’ve had stuff happen. But we have gotten other activity too, we believe there’s something else down there.”
Schwab is Moeser’s favorite place to go besides Gettysburg.
“You go there and there’s always different activity happening,” says Moeser.
Investigations have a few groups walking around in the dark doing EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) and EMF (Electro-Magnetic Fields) sessions, asking general or specific questions. The EVP will pick up a voice, and the theory behind the EMF is that spirits can either manipulate the fields or have their own. They also have what’s called a “Ghost Box,” which picks up radio stations. The theory behind that is that it’s easier for spirits to talk and make contact through one of those.
Both officers have had their fair share of paranormal experiences. During Moeser’s first time in Schwab, they had her sit next to the EVP, and when they listened back, there was a voice talking about red hair. Moeser’s hair is bright red.
As for Homka, he took a tour of the hotel that inspired Stephen King to write “The Shining.” At one point he took three quick pictures of himself in a mirror, and when he looked at them, there was a man in the pictures. He had been alone in the room.
Although they both have had experiences, Moeser stresses that the club tries to scientifically disprove anything they see and hear while on investigation.
PRS recruits members at the beginning of each semester – remember, members have to come to all of the meetings to be safe and comfortable with one another. For anybody with any questions about the club, investigations, or hauntings around State College, feel free to email either Moeser (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Homka (email@example.com). Happy Valloween!