This past academic year, WCU students were charmed by the long-awaited opening of the SECC dining hall. However, left disregarded and forgotten in the aftermath, lies Lawrence Dining Hall: a building that has become a mystery since its inactivity. A look through its windows at night shows a bizarre scene; the flickering lights still shine over the booths, tables and chairs, which still sit out, awaiting patrons that will never come. An eerie sight to the beholder, students have resurfaced the age-old question of what exists beyond those now closed doors: could ghosts’ haunt the building from within?
Well earlier this year, such suspicions were confirmed when Lawrence Dining Hall was added to America’s Top 50 Haunted Places list, surprising everyone yet also no one all at once.
Many students express having always felt a rather unsettling presence about the dimly lit hall, with its retroactive yogurt and supply of french fries that seemed to disappear into thin air.
In retrospect, there were many signs of Lawrence’s haunted nature. The mysterious malfunctioning of the card-swiping machines that caused equally terrifyingly long lines to enter. The way that Lawrence’s overwhelming and crowded environment immediately made anyone suddenly aware of all of their senses and feel as though the grimy walls were closing in on them. *Shiver.* Utterly frightening.
“You know now that I think about it, I do feel a chill in the air anytime I pass by the old dining hall doors,” remarked a sophomore student. “I mean, that might just be because I’ve learned to associate anything five feet from Lawrence with a fight or flight response, but eh, might be ghosts too.”
This is not the first time that parts of WCU have been rumored as haunted. I mean, a look at the 1960 Rammy mascot can tell you that much.
Various students have experienced such things as flickering lights on the third floor of Recitation Hall, sights of Rammy — or at least what appears to be them — scurrying amongst the shadows of campus buildings at night, and even hearing of peers seeking out the ominous Garfield shrine in the basement of Merion, never to return.
Some believe that Lawrence is haunted by the ghost of a chef, Roman Romano, for whom the area of the dining hall called “Roman’s Kitchen” was named. Roman had run his own Italian restaurant on the land where Lawrence now resides, until it was tragically bought out by the university in the 1960s and converted into the masterpiece of a building that we see today. Though Roman was commemorated by naming the dining room after him (a generous endowment, surely), some say he’s still resentful to this day, offended that he would be attributed to such an imposter of Italian cuisine.
Workers at Einstein Bros. Bagels shared that their office is located inside the dining hall itself, meaning anytime they need to collect forms or clock in for a shift, they must dare to enter the site.
One worker shared that whenever she enters, she can hear the steady drip of milk dripping from the ice cream machine, which oddly still resides in the dining hall. “It wouldn’t surprise me if they’d forgotten to drain the ice cream machine before shutting the dining hall down, but that still leaves the question of who was using the machine,” she explained.
Administration has since expressed interest in profiting off the little known gem of WCU. “Picture it: we transform old Lawrence into a haunted attraction, with ghost tours and the whole nine yards. Watch out, Bates Motel!” those familiar with the matter shared. Rest assured, students would be given a discount to the attraction: the cost of two meal swipes for entry.
Some students have theorized that the building’s off-putting energy explains why it is still even standing, despite so much of it being out of commission. “I don’t know why they don’t tear it down, you can practically see it rotting away from the inside out. I could surely think of other things that could replace it…” said one student confused on the matter. “The only possible reason I can think of is that they don’t want to disturb the haunted ground or something. Which, I mean, I’ve seen “Hocus Pocus,” so I guess I can understand that.”
DISCLAIMER: This article is part of The Quak, a satirical series of articles that are released in commemoration of April Fools Day.
Olivia Schlinkman is a second-year political science major with minors in Spanish and journalism. email@example.com.