The Haunting of Montclair State University

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Published October 26, 2021
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The Montclarion
A hallway in Machuga Heights with unnervingly dimmed lights. Photo courtesy of Alex Pavljuk

A study finds that 40% of Americans believe in ghosts. With that being said, if you were to ask only Montclair State University students whether or not they believe in ghosts, that number could be much higher.

Montclair State has been ranked among the most haunted campuses in the United States. Nothing is concrete and there have been no major investigations or research into the claims, other than a questionable “documentary” by Wired Jersey, but what is evident is that strange things do often happen, and most students who have lived on campus for some time will admit to the unexplainable experiences that have happened to them or their friends.

From stories of ghosts standing over beds to disembodied chants in the woods and strange disappearances of residents’ belongings, what have the current Montclair State residents experienced in recent years as we approach this Halloween season?

Blanton Hall standing ominous in the cloud covered evening. Photo courtesy of Alex Pavljuk

Blanton Hall stands ominous in the cloud-covered evening.
Photo courtesy of Alex Pavljuk

Our first of two haunts come from within the walls of Blanton Hall. A resident assistant (RA) whose name was asked to be kept anonymous filled us in on their personal ghost encounter last fall.

The RA had been out of his room for a while to go help a resident who was locked out of their dorm. He notes that he had not been anywhere near his sink before leaving to go help the resident.

“My faucet was off [and] there was no water running in my sink. So, I went downstairs and did the lockout procedure for that one resident,” the RA said. “Then, I ended up doing two more.”

The RA made a point to emphasize that he was gone for no more than 10 minutes before the unnerving discovery.

“When I got back to my dorm, I heard a sound in my sink and as I opened the door [to the bathroom], I could see the water running from the faucet,” the RA said. “I just thought that was so weird because I didn’t turn the faucet on and I didn’t have a roommate.”

To him it was not just a freak situation, it felt paranormal. How else could his sink start to run without anyone having access to it? He was the only one in his room before, and the only one thereafter.

It should be mentioned that you can’t talk about ghosts on campus without bringing up a haunting or two from Hawk Crossings.

Hawks Crossing is the place on campus with the most ghost stories attached to it. Sam Nungesser | The Montclarion

Hawk Crossings is the place on campus with the most ghost stories attached to it.
Sam Nungesser | The Montclarion

Hawk Crossings is the place on campus with the most ghost stories attached to it. Whenever a student brings up paranormal activity at the school, the knee-jerk reaction is almost always Hawk Crossings. With good reason, mind you; it has a lot of lore.

Tina Petrillo, a senior communication studies major, explained her ghostly experiences within her Hawk Crossings apartment.

“It was [about] 3 a.m.,” Petrillo said. “My roommate wasn’t in the room at the time, but I swear I heard someone run up our staircase, close a door in our bathroom and then run back down. So, I texted my roommates and asked if anyone just used the bathroom [and] they said no.”

This was not Petrillo’s only unsettling experience in Hawk Crossings.

“[My] second [ghost experience] was recent: I had hung a picture frame on our staircase, like on the wall next to our staircase, and it [stayed put],” Petrillo said. “It’s been staying there for two months completely fine. With three command hooks, [it was] not a problem. One day at night, I heard three thumps and a bang at the bottom of the stairs. I run down, and I’m checking to see what this is. The picture frame is at the bottom of the staircase; glass is not broken at all, [but] it’s just laying down at the bottom of the staircase.”

Petrillo noted that these ghostly experiences did not scare her.

“I’m not really afraid of ghosts or anything unless they’re mean to me, which they haven’t been,” Petrillo said. “I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a mean ghost. I just think it’s kinda cool. There’s always that sense of wonder I guess when it comes to things like that. The paranormal, the afterlife [and] all that fun stuff — I don’t know, I just find it really interesting.”

Senior Tina Petrillo, who spoke with The Montclarion about her ghost story from Hawks Crossing. Photo courtesy of Rose Kershner

Tina Petrillo spoke with The Montclarion about her ghost story from Hawk Crossings.
Photo courtesy of Rose Kershner

Petrillo and the RA from Blanton Hall are far from being the only people to have had paranormal experiences on campus.

For years, students have told twisted tales and spooky stories across our 113-year-old campus. Multiple claims made by alumni on question-and-answer sites like Quora, although unconfirmed, are still bone-chilling at times. Former students claim to have felt as if they were being watched while in their dorm rooms at Freeman Hall. Others say the locked closets on the 12th floor of Bohn Hall have swung open by themselves.

So, as you wander around campus late at night this Halloween season, keep your eyes and ears open for disembodied voices and darting shadows. You never know what skin-crawling sight might be around the next corner of Montclair State University.

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