Meeting Michael

The tale of the Alumni Building ghost

The Alumni Building, located at 410 Oak St., is believed to be haunted by a ghost named Michael. Michael is an alleged
victim in the fire that burnt down Old Main in 1950. Photo illustration by: Hunter Pariseau and Sarah Massey | Torch Photographer and Production Manager

For some students, walking through the Alumni Building is like being in a scary movie.

While many know about Michael, the Alumni building ghost, some may not. According to the legend, Michael was someone who died when Old Main burned down Feb. 21, 1950. Though Old Main’s remains were demolished, neighboring Alumni stands firm today. Although nobody “officially” died in the fire, people still believe or pretend to believe Michael is one forgotten victim to the fire who haunts the basement of Alumni.

Fast forward 69 years, and students are still scared of the mysterious chairs that move and the phone that rings with no one on the other end.

One student with a memorable experience with Michael is Ferris information technology senior Maggie Burgess. Burgess was in the basement of Alumni her freshman year when the first occurrence happened.

“I would sit outside my classroom 15 minutes before it started and play on my phone,” Burgess said. “I didn’t mind it until the lights would sometimes turn off randomly. At first, I thought someone was messing with me, but when I couldn’t hear anyone else down there, I was convinced it was Michael.”

After that, Burgess stopped coming early, but she wasn’t the only student with a strange occurrence.

Ferris finance sophomore Jameson Pavelka has never had a class in Alumni, but that didn’t stop him from exploring the building. Pavelka and his friends went exploring through the building one night with a Ouija board. Pavelka said he doesn’t believe in ghosts, even after the strange events which occurred during the night.

“The piece moved along the board, but I have no doubt it was because of one of my friends moved it,” Pavelka said. “It was creepy being down there, but I don’t think there was anything supernatural going on.”

Pavelka isn’t the only disbeliever, though. Ferris television and digital media production junior Dean Zahm works in the Ferris archives in the Alumni Building, and he doesn’t believe the rumors.

“I don’t believe in Michael, nor do I believe in ghosts,” Zahm said. “I think people that do believe in ghosts have an overactive imagination. Most things that occur that people blame on ghosts can be explained logically. For example, Alumni is heated with steam. When the steam is running through the pipes, this can make some weird noises.”

Zahm said another explanation to the myth of Michael is the upstairs was previously a convalescence field room for tuberculosis patients.

“I know that there was a ghost hunt a long time ago,” Zahm said. “It is said that the ghost hunters went down to one of the rooms in the basement and did an EVP [electronic voice phenomena] session. I think they heard the name Michael, probably after asking for the ghost’s name.”

Although Zahm has worked in the archives for a while, he has not had any experiences with anything out of the ordinary.

“Please don’t sneak into Alumni after dark,” Zahm said. “Maybe Michael is real and, who knows, maybe he’s actually a demon looking for a new hot.”