February 18, 2024
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A Bakers Dozen Collection of Ohio State’s Weird Traditions and Campus Ghost Stories

The intense rivalry between the University of Michigan and Ohio State University goes back several generations. But as long as these two teams have gone head-to-head, there have been bizarre stories about Ohio State’s weird traditions on campus that we just had to find out about. Fortunately, we skunk into the webpages of the OSU English Department and the school newspaper, The Lantern, to learn some of the strangest Buckeye campus lore.

Ed Note: Crafted with a dash of AI wit and a smidgen of human oversight, this article dives into OSU’s quirkiest traditions—it’s teamwork with a techno twist!

1. Elevator to the Other Side – Denney Hall’s Phantom Professor

Denney Hall's Phantom Professor -Ohio State’s Weird Traditions

In the hallowed halls of Denney Hall, an elevator with a mind of its own occasionally takes an eerie detour to the fifth floor. Legend has it that a ghostly English professor, who supposedly offed a student, still lurks there. The Lantern, back in ’90, spun a tale about an English professor who—let’s say—edited a student’s life story on the fifth floor. The prof then ghosted, leaving the student to a tragic fate in the elevator. And now, the elevator’s a mind of its own, making unscheduled stops on the fifth floor as if the spirit’s still waiting for a late pass to the afterlife. It’s like the spectral scholar’s holding office hours beyond the grave​​. Next time you’re in Denney Hall, maybe take the stairs? 

2. A Student-Run Pharmacy Dispensed Death  – Derby Hall’s Poisonous Past

Student-Run Pharmacy Dispensed Death

In 1925, Derby Hall was less about learning and more about… accidental poisoning. Students got more than they bargained for with strychnine-laced pills from the student-run pharmacy. Talk about a lethal lesson! 

Picture it: 1925, flu season’s in full swing, and Ohio State students are lining up at the student-run pharmacy, hoping to snag something to soothe the sniffling. But instead of a cure, they get a dose of death. Charles Huls and David Puskin were looking to kick their colds, and what did they get? A one-way ticket off campus courtesy of pills that turned out to be pure strychnine! Talk about a fatal error. The campus prez smelled foul play, but the truth? It’s as lost to history as the pharmacy itself. This is just another cautionary tale of why you should always double-check your meds, especially when your pharmacist might still be figuring out the whole ‘chemistry’ thing​​.

3. The Angry Artist – Hopkins Hall’s Haunting Handprint

Hopkins Hall's Haunting Handprint

Ever feel like leaving a mark? One student at Hopkins Hall did – literally. Trapped in an elevator, they left a handprint of fury on the wall. Some say it’s still there, a ghostly reminder of collegiate claustrophobia. 

So, the legend goes like this: back in the swinging ’60s, a student was burning the midnight oil, pouring her soul into her magnum opus, when the elevator decided to play jailer. Trapped without an audience save for her rising panic, she did what any self-respecting artist in distress would do—left her mark, literally. By morning, the walls inside that elevator were a canvas of furious graffiti. But here’s where it gets eerie: whispers around campus hint that if you squint right, you might catch sight of a handprint or an angry note that refuses to be erased, a spectral signature of her nocturnal nightmare. It’s like Hopkins Hall itself wants to remember the night it became an art gallery of angst​​.

4. Presidential Ghost – Hayes Hall’s Curious Curator

Hayes Hall's Curious Curator

Hayes Hall, the granddaddy of Ohio State buildings, was named for President Rutherford B. Hayes. Now, this isn’t your everyday haunt; this is presidential-grade spookiness. Flashback to the roaring ’20s when curfews were as common as flappers, two rule-breaking students found themselves curfew-cuffed outside Hayes Hall. 

As luck would have it, a bearded gent, claiming to be the building’s curator, magically appears and lets them in. Plot twist? The mysterious curator was the spitting image of Rutherford B. Hayes, who had played harp in the great Beyond for over 25 years. If that’s not a historical haunt, I don’t know what is​​.

5. May Week – Ohio State Students Chase Down Oiled Pigs

Ohio State Students Chase Down Oiled Pigs

Ah, May Week at Ohio State—when spring sprung, the co-eds went wild with a bit of end-of-year mayhem. It all started as a timid dance around a maypole. It morphed into a carnival of chaos, complete with tug-of-war across Mirror Lake, pie-eating contests that would put your Thanksgiving to shame, and the greased pig chase that was the slipperiest tradition of them all. But as the bell bottoms faded, so did May Week, petering out in the ’70s due to the ballooning student body.

Fast forward to 2003, there was a flicker of hope for a revival—like a disco ball in a modern club, it shone brightly but briefly. The switch from quarters to semesters put the final nail in the coffin, with the spring semester ending too early for May Week to make its comeback​​​​. So now, instead of the oink and squeal of festivities, it’s the silence of students hitting the books in the library. Quite the change of pace, eh?

6. Eugene, the Mummy Prankster – Ohio Union’s Unusual Find

Eugene, The Mummy Prankster

Picture this: a sunny morning in ’58, and there’s Eugene, chilling on a bench outside the Union, newspaper over his face like he’s snoozing off a wild night. Only, Eugene’s been dead for nearly 30 years and is more a mummy than a party animal. Turns out, a few Ohio State pranksters decided to borrow him from his abode in a Sabina funeral home shed. 

The jig was up when a custodian did a double-take and realized our man on the bench was a bit too… embalmed. The heist ended with a student suspension and four expulsions. Talk about a prank gone immortal​​! Nothing says college prank like a mummified body, right? 

7. The Cane Rush Wars of 1915

The Cane Rush Wars Of 1915

The Cane Rush, a hallowed Buckeye tradition circa 1915, was the academic Hunger Games for the hickory stick. Freshmen, often green around the gills but gutsy, would smuggle these heavyweight canes into chapels. The sophomores, not to be outdone, would then make a mad dash to snatch the prize. The ensuing uproar wasn’t your run-of-the-mill schoolyard scuffle but a full-fledged fracas that left many a student with a hairstyle courtesy of a melee and the fashion sense of a dust-up. 

The Ohio Field turned into a gladiatorial arena, with the upperclassmen’s cunning sometimes foiled by the pluck of the frosh. And if the constabulary got involved, you knew things had gone too far. Picture this: a “hand-to-hand fight in which the blood flowed freely” – quite the understatement, right? So, when you hear the old chime of Orton Hall, remember it might be tolling for the brave souls who once fought over a stick like it was Excalibur itself​

8. Mendenhall’s Monster – Mendenhall Laboratory’s Frankenstein Experiment

Mendenhall Laboratory's Frankenstein Experiment

Dr. Thomas C. Mendenhall’s idea of fun? Trying to reanimate a corpse with electricity. This Frankenstein-esque tale from Mendenhall Laboratory gives a whole new meaning to ‘shocking discoveries.’  The story zaps us back to the early days of Ohio State University when physicist Thomas C. Mendenhall had an idea that would make Dr. Frankenstein proud—or perhaps face-palm. He got the state’s thumbs-up to shock a dead prisoner back to life. 

Picture this: a gothic medical college, a generator, and a body twitching like it’s got Saturday night fever. Spoiler alert: The corpse didn’t jump up for a dance; the experiment was a total flop. It left us with a story that’s been sparking imaginations ever since 

9. Caveman in the Corridors – Orton Hall’s Prehistoric Haunt

Orton Hall's Prehistoric Haunt

Orton Hall isn’t just about rocks and fossils. It’s also home to a Cro-Magnon ghost, wandering the museum. Maybe he’s just looking for his exhibit?  

Orton Hall at Ohio State isn’t just an architectural gem; it’s also home to a prehistoric phantom that’s been causing a Jurassic-sized ruckus. Yep, we’re talking about a Cro-Magnon caveman who apparently didn’t get the memo that his time’s up. Word on the campus path is this ancient spirit’s been slamming doors and going full poltergeist in the museum, probably peeved about being a display piece. And those aren’t just idle rumors; two legit psychics felt the caveman vibes strong enough to make it into The Lantern.

10. The Pink Party Ghost – Pomerene Hall’s Fashionable Specter

Pomerene Hall's Fashionable Specter

Pomerene Hall’s got its ghostly fashionista – a girl in a pink dress wandering the halls. She’s joined by Dr. Frederick Clark, who liked the place so much that he decided to stick around post-mortem. Ghosts in Gowns? 

Whispers of a “Pink Party Ghost,” a fashionably late spirit donning a blindingly pink dress straight out of a bygone bash. She’s been spotted doing a spectral sashay to a window in room 213, peering over Mirror Lake before pulling a Houdini. And get this—she’s not alone. The echoes of Dr. Frederick Clark, who cashed in his chips after a bunk investment, are said to have rattled Pomerene Hall’s bones with door slams and wall bangs. Renovations might’ve given these ghosts the boot, but the legend? It’s alive and well!

11. Ice-Skating Specter – Mirror Lake’s Lady of the Lake

Mirror Lake's Lady Of The Lake

Mirror Lake boasts its ice-skating ghost, the Lady of the Lake. Seen gliding across the ice on chilly nights, she’s either a lost soul or just someone who loves winter sports.

The legend of the “Lady of the Lake” at Ohio State University’s Mirror Lake tells of a ghostly figure seen skating across the ice on cold winter nights. She is known to wear outdated clothing, with some reports describing her attire as white and others as pink. This variance in description has led to speculation about her identity, with some believing she could be the “pink party girl” from Pomerene Hall or possibly the disgruntled wife of Dr. Clark, though no one has confirmed her face.​

12. Oxley’s Unsettling Guest – The Oxley Hall Poltergeist

The Oxley Hall Poltergeist

Oxley Hall is more than just an old dorm; it’s a hotspot for poltergeist activity. If your room suddenly gets chilly, or your books fly off the shelves, you know who to blame. 

Built when your great-grandpa was in knickers, Oxley Hall has seen more students than a Starbucks during finals. But it’s the unseen, prank-loving ghost that’s hogging the limelight. Think of it as the Casper of campus – if Casper had a mischievous streak.

Students at Oxley have had their share of “Did that just happen?” moments. Books taking a dive off shelves? Check. Doors slamming like in a teen drama? You bet. Lights flickering like it’s trying to communicate in Morse code? Absolutely. It’s like living in a low-budget horror flick, but with better Wi-Fi.

Who’s behind these ghostly gags? Some say it’s a former student who loved college so much, they never left. Others think it’s just a spectral prankster, getting its kicks from spooking the living. Either way, this ghost has more school spirit than the cheer squad.

13. Ohio State’s Weird Hatred For the Letter “M”

Ohio State’s Weird Hatred For The Letter “M”

One of the most notable traditions at Ohio State University when playing the University of Michigan is the crossing out of the letter “M” all over campus. This tradition involves placing red X’s on the letter “M” wherever it appears, symbolizing the rivalry and animosity towards the Michigan Wolverines, referred to as “That Team Up North”​​. The red X’s are not just limited to the campus; they can even be seen at the John Glenn International Airport, greeting visitors with the spirit of the rivalry​​. https://www.nbc4i.com/sports/buckeyes/red-xs-everywhere-osu-rivalry-tradition-rolls-out/

Avatar Of Michael Hardy

Michael Hardy

Michael is the owner of Thumbwind Publications and a freelance writer. His projects include a new AI Content Site called AITrueReview and a programmatic SEO site called FloridaMarkers.

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