One of the many alluring qualities that attract students and visitors to quaint, historic Ashland is the strong sense of history and spiritual presence.
According to the members of Southern Oregon University Paranormal, a club devoted to investigating paranormal occurrences at SOU as well as in Ashland, the campus is home to a fascinating amount of paranormal activity.
Since the inauguration of SOU Paranormal four years ago, the club has investigated every “haunted” building on campus numerous times.
Accompanied by all sorts of equipment used to capture the presence of alternate energy forms, SOUP has made some impressive finds in the Churchill building, the Suzanne Holmes residence hall, and the Plunkett Center, three of the oldest structures on campus.
According to Daniel Tharp, student organizer and long-term member, the club searches for evidence, and then tries to find every possible way to disprove it.
“We are not trying to encourage whether it is real or not, but just trying to go by the evidence,” says Joel Harper, 28, another club member.
Nevertheless, in the Plunkett Center alone they have managed to capture at least one clear audio recording, a human-shaped shadow in a doorway, and experienced other spooky phenomena.
According to Tharp, 28, the group only increases audio volume or video contrast, the evidence is not manipulated any other way.
Most members would agree that their experiences in the club have been both unforgettable and educational.
“I’ve done a lot of investigating and I’ve learned a lot,” said Amber Quillian, 22. “Actually getting involved is so different than [what you see on] TV.”
Near the end of spring term the club will host a presentation of all the best evidence gathered since the group was founded four years ago.
Although this year the club has only about eight consistent members, SOUP has worked hard to bring its paranormal interests to the SOU community through scary movie nights, zombie fest rock concerts, and the popular Spirit Walks, which are normally held around Halloween and feature a tour of all of the “hot spots” on campus and downtown Ashland. According to Tharp, the tours received an estimated 120 attendees one year.
According to Harper, the club is losing a few officers to graduation this year, and is hoping to begin recruiting soon for next year. Although he will be amongst those graduating, he hopes to stay on board as an active community member.
“Most of the friends I’ve made at college have come from (being a member of) SOUP,” said Quillian, reflecting on her 4-year experience in the club.
The club is in the process of brainstorming plans for next fall in the form of a haunted house, hoping to incorporate some of the other campus clubs and organizations.
“I believe it has a lot of potential for us,” said Harper.
Currently SOU is one of the only universities to have a paranormal club, however a long-term goal of the club is to change this.
Tharp explained SOUP has been in contact with other Oregon schools, with the hopes of one day being able to work together in their paranormal research. In the meantime, SOUP has a group page on Facebook, where they offer photos, information, and a discussion forum to all those interested.