Study sessions and ghost sightings: A look at USF’s haunted history

Through years of students passing down haunted tales, The Oracle gathered some popular, and forgotten, on-campus ghost stories. ORACLE PHOTO/JUSTIN SEECHARAN

From making their way to class to visiting the library to study before an exam, USF sees a lot of daily student activity. However, another form of activity, one whispered by generations of students, also lurks in the shadows – paranormal. 

Join us on a journey as we delve into the chilling tellings of some of the most popular haunted tales and urban legends on campus. Each shadowy corner holds its own mystery, waiting to be uncovered by the most fearless.

The Girl with the Green Backpack – Library

USF’s Occult Research Society, a group of student paranormal investigators, looked into rumors surrounding the alleged haunting of the library. The group wanted to determine if it was, as many students have called it, one of the most haunted places on campus.

The urban legend of the “Girl with the Green Backpack” centers around an apparition believed to be a former student who worked in the library and committed suicide in 1979. This tale is thought to have been propagated by a former USF librarian named Paul Camp.

The Girl, who has been given the nickname Gottlieb (her alleged last name) by students, was known to tamper with music sheets that once resided on the fourth floor when she was alive. Those sheets remained there decades after her death, but recently had been removed. No one knows of their new location – or if they were preserved at all.

Daniel Mendoza, founder of the Occult Research Society, said he has heard reports of paranormal activity in the library.

While studying on the library’s fourth floor, numerous students have experienced a sudden sensation of a presence behind them, with all other sounds fading into the background except for the rustling of pages or the soft patter of footsteps, Mendoza said.

However, when they turned to confront the source, they caught only a fleeting glimpse of a girl with a green backpack vanishing behind a bookshelf.

Mendoza said many students have reported a lingering feeling of being observed – a sensation that some describe as eerie. There have been accounts of book carts seemingly moving of their own accord and doors inexplicably swinging open, Mendoza said.

Unknown Entity – Muma

The Muma College of Business BSN building, ‘The Bunker,’ was built in 1979. It sparked the curiosity of Occult Research Society due to its eerie ambiance. Legend has it that an unknown entity resides within the bunker. 

Three students of the Occult Research Society ventured into the Muma building one night on Sept. 26, 2021, to investigate the presence of supernatural activity.

Nolan Nolan, president of the Occult Research Society, said he chose to investigate the Muma Building for its captivating and subterranean atmosphere. Having some experience using a Ouija board, he was not intimidated – but the other first-timers were a bit unsettled.

They saw the planchette move on the Ouija board, and noticed that their device that detects paranormal activity, the EMF meter, went off three times. Nolan said they remained relatively calm and quiet throughout their research despite the occurrence of the activity. 

Ghost of a pre-med student – Various locations

Another urban legend of USF shared by Mendoza is the tale of “Dr. Trepanation.” The last sighting of it was in 2019.

He said a pre-med student, “Dr. Trepanation,” had a dark ambition to make hallucinations more vivid. He theorized that by performing trepanation, it would enhance brain function and potentially unlock a new sensory perception.

Mendoza said that the student performed self-trepanation by drilling a hole into his skull, aiming to activate a so-called “third-eye.” This caused the student to hallucinate objects speaking to him and sharing their history.

This newfound “third-eye” was allegedly beneficial to the student, as he didn’t need to study extensively anymore because the exam sheet would “tell” him all the answers. However, this transformation led the student to become more reclusive, Mendoza said.

The last known sighting of the student was in the Collins parking garage, according to Mendoza, where a girl returning to her car noticed that the empty garage only had one other car that was parked directly next to her. She peered inside the car and allegedly saw the student inside, asleep, bearing at least 10 bloody indentations in his head from the self-trepanation procedure, Mendoza said.

Paranormal activity – Architecture building

Another lesser known area of campus with a haunted past is the HMS Architecture building – specifically room 469. 

It shares a spot with the library on, a national internet archive of places with recorded ghost encounters. Students have often reported strange noises and apparitions at times when few people would be in the building. 

While this haunting has less of a well-documented origin, stories have been passed down through generations of architecture students. Upperclassmen often tell freshman a ghost story similar to the Library’s – that a girl who took her own life while in the program still roams the building. 

For students seeking out the paranormal, USF presents the possibility of a ghostly encounter just a few steps from their dorm room.