Mold Found in Tatem

By Stacey Axler

Mold in the basement of the Tatem Arts Center has been identified by Hood faculty and staff members.

College officials found black mold in the Avalon Performing Arts Studio, the performance space that features the black box theater for Hood College Theatre (HCT) productions, causing the temporary closing of the theater.

“I feel mad [that the black box theater] is closed.  I’m upset that [Hood] only noticed recently, because I feel like the problem has been there for a while,” said junior Billy Lewis, president of the Hood Improv Troupe.

The black mold found in the basement of Tatem led to the rescheduling of the HCT production of “Waiting for Godot.”  The fall play originally was scheduled to open on Oct. 31, but due to the loss of a performance space, the play was postponed to open on Nov. 10.

The Avalon Performing Arts Studio was sealed off in early October, and remains closed through November.

Charles Mann, vice-president  for finance and treasurer, said, “To ensure everyone’s safety, the college secured the affected areas and immediately hired a licensed hazardous waste contractor to remove all contaminated materials.”

“This abatement work continues and the space will be reopened only after the college has received testing results that the rooms are safe for occupancy,” added Mann.

Earlier this summer, Hood officials discovered asbestos in Price Auditorium, also located in Tatem.

In Price Auditorium, an HVAC unit leaked, which caused several ceiling tiles to fall.  After testing the materials, asbestos fibers were discovered, which caused the sealing off of this facility for several weeks.

“The room was subsequently retested and certified safe for occupancy pursuant to Federal and State guidelines.  As such, the room was reopened for use.  At no time were any building occupants in danger of exposure to the small amount of disturbed ceiling material,” Mann said.

Price Auditorium is now open and utilized by Hood students and faculty.

The closure of these rooms in Tatem concerns many students with the state of many of the academic buildings on campus.

“With the problems discovered in Tatem, sometimes I worry about the potential problems in other buildings on campus.  However, I feel that Hood does a good job at trying to fix problems once they are addressed,” said sophomore Brittany Gammel.

Hood officials are actively trying to fix the present mold problem in the Avalon Performing Arts Studio.

“Hood College is always concerned about the safety of students, faculty and staff.  Towards that end, the College must periodically close portions of the campus or buildings in order to address a safety issue,” Mann said.

 

Faculty and Students Debate Proposed New Core

By Hilary Lawch

The core curriculum at Hood is being fundamentally revised for the first time in 22 years by a task force of four professors convened by Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner, provost and vice-president of academic affairs.

If the proposed changes are approved by the Faculty Senate, the revision will become policy for a new incoming class and will not directly affect current students.

The revision – which introduces a stronger focus on writing, quantitative literacy and global perspectives – proposes a mandatory first-year seminar, a social justice course in the civilization section of the core, one writing-intensive course in each major, and a re-organization of the upper core requirements.

“I wanted the core to respond to the needs of today’s students,” Conway-Turner said.

When the core revision was formally presented at the Senate’s monthly meeting on Oct. 7, some faculty members expressed concern at certain aspects of it.

“We’re going from a core that looks pretty good to one that is confused – and confusing,” Dr. Mark Sandona, chair of the English department, said. “People are concerned that the proposed core will place an undue burden on students.”

In the Friday, Nov. 11, faculty meeting, it was decided that the first-year seminar, arguably the most controversial part of the proposal, would stay in the proposed core curriculum (36 approved, 34 opposed, eight abstained).

The first-year seminars will contain no more than 15 freshman students each and will not count toward a major. The downside to this will be the likelihood of fewer class sections available for upperclassmen, as well as more hours for professors to teach, since it will create at least 22 new sections in the fall semester.

In reference to the first-year seminar, Doug Raftery, president of the Student Government Association (SGA), said, “The [SGA] Executive Board does believe that it is a good idea in theory, but we do not believe that there has been enough time to be able to put together a first-year seminar without making the majority of our students and faculty happy.”

“Faculty are really going to have their hands full with this first-year seminar,” Raftery added. “The pressure will be put on the English department, and staffing just isn’t there for it.”

“It’s completely unrealistic,” Sandona said of the freshman seminar.

“Adding a new requirement to the core like a first-year seminar would almost require that the faculty teach seven courses a year,” he said, referring to the recent debate over moving from an 18-credit teaching load to a 21-credit teaching load, an administrative proposal that the faculty roundly rejected last spring.

Some upperclassmen are skeptical of the value of a first-year seminar.

“I really don’t think I like the freshman seminar,” junior Olivia Wolz said. “I understand why they would want to do it, but I don’t think it would be beneficial. I’ve had friends who have had similar classes at their universities, and they saw it as a hassle. They hated going to it.”

Junior Bridgitte McColligan has heard similar thoughts from friends at different schools.

“From what I know about these programs from other colleges, these classes are pointless and the students do not try in the class, because they feel that it is just like a high school class.”

McColligan also said that there are already classes that assist those freshmen who require extra help, and she suggested that perhaps the task force consider keeping this course for those who need it, rather than requiring it for all incoming freshmen.

As for the possibility of professors having to teach extra classes, Wolz said, “If the [professors] are forced to do these without extra pay, that’s not very fair for them.”

In a written statement, the task force said that the first-year seminar was a way to address the belief held by many faculty members that writing skills need to be improved.

“Many of the individuals and departments with which we met stressed the importance of helping students become better writers and more critical thinkers and readers,” the statement read. “We believe that the first-year seminars, all of which will be reading- and writing-intensive, will help students to cultivate skills that will make them successful in their college classes and in their future careers.”

In their research, the task force found that many other universities that mandate a first-year seminar have found it to be a recruiting and retention tool.

Raftery explained that SGA is concerned with how the first-year seminar could limit the opportunities for upperclassmen, since multiple sections of higher-level courses would be combined in order to make room for the first-year seminar.

“If there was a class, such as a 200-level philosophy course, and it was offered once a semester during the year, and there were 12 students of the possible 25 who occupied that course each semester, than the two sections would be combined into one semester,” he said. “That 200-level philosophy course would still be offered, but only in the spring, and it would contain 24 students. The [SGA executive] board is worried about how this will hurt class size of upperclassmen because there is so much focus on the first-year seminar and creating room for it regarding professors.”

The proposal of a social justice course in the upper core has been met with less criticism by some students.

“If you can improve your own understanding of the world and how others live, why not?” Wolz said.

Senior Sara Winand agreed.

“Social justice is a good addition because that’s important for the time we live in,” she said.

Raftery and the other SGA members have been working to find out how the student body feels on this matter.

“The [executive] board has thoroughly looked through the proposed core curriculum as a group and feel very comfortable putting this stance out as student representatives,” he said. “We want what is best for the college.”

The task force consists of Dr. Karen Hoffman, associate professor of philosophy; Dr. Kerry Strand, chair of the department of sociology; Dr. Susan Ensel, professor of chemistry; Dr. Sang Kim, associate professor of economics and management; and Dr. Anne Derbes, professor of art.

Catherine Collins contributed reporting.

Proposed Release Time Changes Will Become Policy

By Catherine Collins

The adjustments to release time for professors recently drafted by Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner, provost and vice-president for academic affairs, will go into effect at the beginning of fall 2012.

The changes involve either a decrease in release time for certain departments or the exchange of release time for the opportunity for a stipend.

Release time refers to the reduction in teaching load that is given to a professor holding a leadership position, such as chair of a department or director of a graduate program.

The stated goal by the provost of the new changes is to make the release time system more fair and equitable, since some departments, being larger and more complex than others, require more time for professors to fulfill a leadership position.

In an Oct. 24 document that lays out the new policy for next year, it is stated that “In some cases, the amount of time required or the complexity of the leadership role goes beyond what is deemed normal ‘in load’ service. In these cases, the provost will compensate the leadership role by providing a stipend or release from a portion of the faculty member’s normal teaching load.”

Under the new policy, departments that used to receive two course releases per year, such as the foreign language, math and political science departments, will now receive one.

This means that the professors serving as chair of those departments will be teaching one more course each year than they have in the past.

Larger departments that previously received more than two course releases for their chairs, such as the English, biology and education departments, will now receive two per year.

Professors that hold positions such as director of a program within a department (for example, the director of the communication arts program, which falls under the English department) that used to receive one course release per year, will now be eligible for a stipend between $1,000 and $2,000.

Additionally, the stipend given to shared positions like co-chairs or co-directors will now be divided between the two professors holding the positions.

Compensation for summer work will also change under the provost’s adjustments.

The provost’s report states that the “complexity” of the work will control how much compensation is given. It reads, “Significant work must be accomplished during the summer months resulting in the completion of specific department/program/College goals” and “Significant recruitment or orientation activities are eligible for consideration for a stipend.”

All the work that professors do during the summer months is voluntary. An example of summer work is the reading of placement tests by professors in a department.

Last summer, four English professors read approximately 250 placement tests for incoming freshmen, and each professor was paid $250.

The details of these changes’ potential consequences on academics and faculty salaries were explained in a previous article entitled “Provost Drafts Adjustments to Release Time,” available in the Oct. 27 print edition, or on our Facebook page, The Blue and Grey.

 

SGA Corner: Curriculum Changes

By Stacey Axler

The Hood Student Government Association (SGA) recently reviewed the proposed changes to the core curriculum.

In the Friday, Nov. 11, faculty meeting, the first-year seminar was passed by the Faculty Senate, with  36 approved votes, 34 opposed, and eight abstained.

“The Exec Board does not agree with [the first-year seminar] decision, and our stance was read at the faculty meeting after this was approved. The HCSGA Executive Board will come together and look at the new proposed core curriculum to decide whether we agree with the curriculum as a whole during our upcoming meetings,” said SGA President Doug Raftery in an email.

SGA reviewed the core curriculum over the past month and has met with the core committee to discuss the proposed changes.

Specifically, the SGA executive board supports the concept of a first-year seminar to improve literacy skills but wants the core committee to examine the practical idea of such a seminar first.

A main cause of concern for the core curriculum changes stems from the proposed section cuts and increase in class sizes that would result from the addition of first-year seminars.

An excerpt from the SGA core stance, “It was explained to us that . . . two classes may be combined to open up space for a possible first-year seminar.  This hinders students from scheduling classes on a flexible basis.”

The HCSGA also feels concern over the retention of upperclassmen students due to the increased emphasis on first-year seminars.

Some propositions made in the new core curriculum were completely supported by SGA, such as the change of the gym requirement to pass/fail.

Overall, SGA hopes the core committee considers the possible issues raised over the core curriculum.

 

National Politics: Reflections on the Current President

By Lindsay Cogdill

The past four years have been difficult for many Americans, between an economic recession, two wars, and the raging extreme partisan politics in Congress.  No one is more familiar with these difficulties than President Barack Obama, the man all Americans expect to solve all of these problems.

Now that we are approaching a new election year, President Obama is preparing to run for a second term in office.  Many people are saying his base is deserting him – but is this really true?

President Obama was a Democrat’s dream when he was elected in 2008.   His charisma, his powerful oratory, and his idealistic plans excited left-leaning voters who saw him as a savior after eight years of extreme conservatism in the White House.

I know I was excited – this new politician was promising to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; he had a plan for healthcare for all Americans; and he was supportive of women’s issues. 

I am not ashamed to say I cried when I watched his inauguration speech, thinking of the possibilities that could be in store for our country with a new liberal president.

Alas, the last four years have fallen short of the dreams of many liberals who placed our faith in Obama.  The economy has tanked, with high unemployment rates and a growing deficit.  Congress is now split between extreme conservatives who control the House of Representatives, and mostly moderate Democrats controlling the Senate.

The liberal voices who uphold the same views I hold are few and far in between.  The war in Afghanistan continues, even as  we celebrate ending operations in Iraq. 

A much-discussed idea of late is whether Obama’s liberal base will abandon him this election year.  Many experts say Obama has disappointed liberals to the point that they will vote for an independent or even a Republican in the 2012 election.  Supporters of this view cite the midterm elections, which brought a surge of Tea Party conservatives to Congress, as evidence of changing political tides.

However, this view seems very simplistic to me.  Does anyone really believe a majority of people who voted for Obama in 2008 were so angry at him that they voted for the Tea Party in 2010?  I am doubtful of this, because I think there is far too much of a fundamental disconnect there.

I know many people who are angry with Obama for not standing up for liberal views more than he has – but none of them would go out and vote for a Republican.

Another idea is that the moderates who supported Obama in 2008 will swing to the other side.  This seems slightly more plausible to me – but again, I am sincerely doubtful that it will happen.  Moderates tend to be middle class, and Obama, despite his bumbling, has not lost sight of caring about the majority of the American people.

Also, it must be said that although Obama’s views are generally considered liberal, the way he has carried them out has been much more moderate in practice.  The Republicans currently running for the presidential nomination do not have the moderate credit that Obama has, in my opinion, because conservatives have simply gone further and further extreme right wing over the last few years.

I believe part of the problem, part of why so many people are angry with our president, is that the current administration spends too much time calling out conservatives, but not enough time explaining the positive things they’ve done for our country.  George Clooney recently said in an interview that “Democrats are the worst at explaining what it is they do,” and that they should learn from Hollywood about how to let everyone know about the positive strides our country has made since Obama came into office. 

A website called “whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com” illustrates this point nicely, by showing messages about what the Obama administration has achieved one at a time.

These messages include important points about the Healthcare Reform Act, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Violence Against Women Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, among many others. 

When I consider my own satisfaction level with Obama’s administration, I realize I am very impressed at some of the changes he has made.  He has appointed many new government officials who are openly gay, minorities, and women; he brought an end to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; he has allowed federal employees’ same-sex partners to receive benefits; he reversed the global gag rule; he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act… the list could go on. 

Liberals seem angry that Obama wasn’t able to come into the White House and instantly change our financial situations, instantly give us better healthcare, instantly reverse DOMA, etc.  However, I believe we should all take the time to consider the things he has achieved, and continue to show support for our president in the year to come.

 

Faculty Art Featured in Show and Reception

By Stacey Axler

The gallery opening for the 2011 Hood Faculty Exhibition took place on Thursday, Nov. 3 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Almost 50 students and faculty members came to support fellow members of the Hood community in the recent art gallery opening.

The faculty exhibit in the Tatem Gallery featured the artwork from ten Hood professors, and featured different mediums, such as photography, ceramics, graphite and oil paints.

“I attended the gallery opening because the artwork displayed really fascinated me,” sophomore Kate Kopasek said.  “I pass the artwork on my way to my education classes and I felt proud that Hood professors created such beautiful work.”

Some faculty members created artwork based off of personal experiences.

Joyce Michaud, associate professor of art, created two wood-fired porcelain pieces for the exhibition.

One, entitled “Mother’s Pearls,” is dedicated to Michaud’s late mother.

“‘Mother’s Pearls’ is a series of  pinch pot conversations that were made when my mother was sick,” she said. “They unexpectedly came out in her favorite color, and one had a gold luster, representative of her. The 12 pots are indicative of her children.”

Michaud’s second piece, called “Delicate Balance,”“ is meant to illustrate the tension of maintaining harmony.

“‘Delicate Balance’ is about life and our capacity to carry a heavy burden,” she said. “The vessel form is indicative of our function in life. The asymmetrical balance is what life is all about – being able to support and juggle a number of things at one time.”

Other artwork featured parts from bigger or more elaborate pieces created for earlier exhibits.

For instance, the relief print entitled “Labyrinth,” created by adjunct art professor Andrea McCluskey, is a part of an installation piece that involved an actual labyrinth that people walked through. This was showcased in the Artists’ Gallery in Frederick a couple years ago.

“I decided to create a labyrinth because it was a walking meditation,” McCluskey said. “It suggests time passing, because it has a rhythm to it.”

In total, 22 pieces of art were featured during the 2011 Hood Faculty Exhibition.

The gallery opening provided the opportunity to the Hood community to learn more about the Hood art professors.

“I found the artwork really beautiful and I can’t wait to attend another gallery opening,” Kopasek said.

 

From the Editor

By Catherine Collins

A lot has been going on since the last edition of the newspaper came out. As the result of an election held by the editorial board, I have become the editor-in-chief, which now puts me in charge of the editorial page – and only the editorial page. My influence can no longer pervade the news section, which I’ll admit that it has in the past. From now on, I’ll be forced to delegate all the things I want to write about, instead of just doing it myself – which is a good thing.

Even though the fact that I wrote an editorial about the same topics I had covered for news in the last edition was questionable by journalistic standards, it doesn’t mean that my news stories – or the content of my editorial – weren’t based on reporting and facts. I read the salary reports, I studied the numbers, I interviewed everyone I needed to, I gathered background information, and I got both sides of the story.

In any newspaper, there should be a stark division between the news and editorial sections, but I wrote both solely because I wanted students to understand everything. A lot of people like impassioned editorials more than monotone and complicated news stories, so I took advantage of that to get the point across.

I firmly believe that I kept my personal opinions out of the news stories. If I were really biased, I wouldn’t have even talked to the administration. But I made sure that I understood their reasoning and the financial aspects of the issues, and then in the editorial, I drew the only logical conclusions, based on their words and actions.

I was recently criticized by someone in the administration for calling the senior staff “liars” in my editorial when I had no proof of that, but the way I see it, the enormous discrepancy between their statements and their actions – and the emptiness of their promises – counts as lying.

They claim to care about professors’ salaries, but the numbers show no improvement at all. They’ll plaster professors’ faces all over the website (because they’re good enough to be used as a marketing tool but not good enough to have their actual careers respected), but they take away their research opportunities and place undue burdens on them without paying them a decent wage.

Additionally, the administration’s priorities are made painstakingly clear based on what they choose to spend money on. How can they pour $10 million of decades of donated money into an athletic center but not have the energy or capability to find money to make the buildings where we have class habitable, safe or even comfortable by any standards? They care about the image of Hood that they’ve constructed, not the real substance of the experience of being here.

I really believe that the administration doesn’t respect us as students. We all know that they care more about prospective students than ones who are already here, but the real problem is that they don’t even think we’re smart enough to figure that out.

It is apparently news to them that we can see through their marketing schemes and that we have our own ideas about what Hood should be like. There are so many opinionated people on this campus (I know who you are), and I urge you to voice your concerns to the people in charge. Send an email, show up in their offices, mail them a letter – just do something to show them that you have opinions. I guarantee they won’t put in the effort to find out your thoughts on their own, so it’s up to you.

 

“Anonymous” Succeeds

By Jarred Braxton

“What if I told you that Shakespeare never wrote a single word?” This is the question that lays the groundwork and the source of inspiration of visionary filmmaker Roland Emmerich’s (“Independence Day”) new film, “Anonymous.”

This flashback narrative period piece takes audiences back to the Elizabethan era inEngland, when Shakespeare’s monumental works “Hamlet,” “Macbeth,” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” regaled the masses and the mobs with their powerful expressions of human nature and ambition.

Or so we thought.

Emmerich has clearly distinguished himself with his latest and superb film that carried his own beliefs and logistically delivered it to the audience. “Anonymous” is a sophisticated, stylish, sordid and simple enough film for the audience to get around and when it concludes, the audience slowly comes to grips with its gravity and power.

Emmerich’s film is focused on the life not of William Shakespeare, but of Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, played by Rhys Ifans (“Greenberg,” “Elizabeth the Golden Age”) and his younger counterpart Jamie Campbell Bower (“Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street”).

From a young age, Edward is groomed for a life of duty and service to the crown by his adopted guardian William Cecil, played by David Thewlis (“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”), yet amidst a life of luxury and high culture that all English nobility are suited to lead, Edward has a passion and an aptitude for theater and playwriting, which is considered the work of false idol worship in the House of Cecil.

Young Edward’s skill with the pen and his ability to compose remarkable works is frowned upon by the Cecil household, yet is completely beguiling to the Tudor Queen of England, Elizabeth (younger Elizabeth is played by Joely Richardson and elderly Elizabeth is played by Academy Award-winner Vanessa Redgrave). Edward’s plays are so rich in substance and he is so charming in nature to Elizabeth that the two become lovers who are ripped apart because of the influence the Cecil family has on them (not only is the Cecil house the guardians of Edward, but the Cecils are close advisors to the Queen).

Years later, the Earl of Oxford is nearly in financial ruin and the Cecil house is moving along a scheme to have an agingElizabethsucceeded by James the Scotsman. Edward catches wind of this plan and begins a scheme of his own.

Edward plans to use the works he has written in secret to influence the common Englishmen at the time to seize the influence of her majesty from the Cecils and place who he believes is the true and worthy heir to Elizabethon the throne: the Earl of Southampton played by Xavier Samuel (“The Twilight Saga”).

To do this successfully, he must hand his work to someone who not only can be trusted, but can be accredited enough to escape with writing plays so profound.

With the words, “In my world people do not write plays. People like you do,” Edward initially hands his plays to playwright Ben Johnson, played by Sebastian Armesto (“Marie Antoinette,”) for him to put his name on.

Due to Johnson’s hesitation, however, out of the shadows taking the credit comes the actor William Shakespeare, played by Rafe Spall (“Hot Fuzz”), and the rest, as they say, is history.

What Emmerich clearly accomplishes is how one man who is torn between two different worlds and tastes the fruit of forbidden love while embattling manipulative families manages to find comfort in allowing another man to stake his name on his work and revel in the beauty he has managed to create in placing pen to paper.

This allows his argument of questioning the credibility of Shakespeare to be so powerful and convincing.

The entire cast of the film is completely unyielding and they practically hold nothing back from the camera. Ifans, Armesto, Spall, and Redgrave in particular give absolutely beyond belief performances.

The movie is written to do what Emmerich wanted to do, and what is seen on camera is a lavish yet brooding, dark yet shining visionary spectacle that reflects the age in which the setting takes place.

The only issue with “Anonymous” is that it may take a while for audiences to comprehend, because it is a very complicated piece of cinema.

“Anonymous” is a rare treat for audiences to enjoy. It is a film that aims to distinguish and it succeeds.

 

“The Stuff of Legend”: A Dark Toy Story

By Paige Jurgensen

“The Stuff of Legend” series is childhood on acid. So far, the graphic novel series written by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith consists of two books, “The Dark” and “The Jungle.” While I’m a huge fan of both books and can’t wait for the third, I have to warn that these books are violent and explicit in their depiction of war.

Graphic novels are not necessarily for children and definitely not for the faint of heart. While the cover might depict a wholesome fairy tale, the pages of the novel actually contain a gruesome war story.

Set during World War II, a small platoon of toys set off into The Dark, a mysterious land controlled by the Boogeyman, to rescue their owner, a young boy, from the grasps of the Boogeyman and his army. In the safety of the young boy’s room, the toys are simply stuffed animals, wooden toys and plastic figures. Once they’re hurled into the Dark, they become life-sized vicious animals, throat cutting warriors and sharp-shooting soldiers.

The army of toys, led by a ferocious bear named Max, must travel through a foreign and hostile land and are faced with death, violence, and betrayal, much like the real solders of World War II.

The concept of toys and the Boogeyman might sound childish and innocent at first glance, but the violence of war wipes away all innocence in the souls of the child’s toys. Raicht and Smith’s Boogeyman isn’t just a shadow in the night to frighten small children. Rather, he is a fearsome tyrant who leads his massive army into bloody conflicts and a villain to whom even Adolf Hitler would have to succumb.

“The Stuff of Legend” is beautifully illustrated by Charles Paul Wilson III who, along with Mike Raicht and Brian Smith, develops an entirely new level of creativity and intelligence in the world of graphic novels.

Two novels in, the series is (thankfully) not yet over. As a huge fan of “The Stuff of Legend,” I am greatly anticipating the third book, scheduled for release in January 2012. The series has a special quality that makes the story dwell in the reader’s mind long after setting the book down because, even though the writers use a child’s toys as main characters, the story can be broken down into a simple story of good against evil in war.

“The Stuff of Legend” is a classic war story, which is uniquely crafted into a twisted tale of adventure that will make readers look twice at their favorite teddy bears.

 

The Brodbeck Investigation:The Results

By Josie Wawrzyniak

At 10 p.m. on Oct. 30, 2011, members of The Blue and Grey newspaper staff entered Brodbeck Music Hall to conduct an investigation of paranormal activity in the building. Ghostly encounters, unexplained noises, moving shadows and apparitions have long been used to establish the reputation of the building as the most haunted structure on the Hood College campus.

Not all of the staff members chose to participate. “I walk past it on my way to class. That’s the closest I want to get to it,” said one.

The building’s reputation is well-known. Stories about Brodbeck have appeared in print for many years. “The Spirits of Frederick,” a book by Alyce T. Weinberg about the hauntings and ghosts of Frederick County, Maryland, has a short article about the building and the activity in it. The Blue and Grey recently reprinted a story it published in 2005.  (See “Hood Hosts a Haunting,” in the Oct. 27, 2011 issue.)

Ask any member of Hood’s staff about paranormal activity in Brodbeck and most will relate a personal experience or tell of one experienced by a friend or co-worker.

Chief Richard Puller of Hood’s Campus Safety Office has received many reports of activity in the building, mostly concerning incidents in the basement.

In the spring of 2011, a contractor installing a new heating system in the basement was asked if he saw any ghosts. He immediately stopped working and stared at the interviewer, appearing as if he had just seen a ghost. Welcoming the opportunity to talk about his experience, he described an incident from the previous week. When he left work one day, he placed his work boots on a chair. He arrived the next morning to find them on the floor. The building was locked. Other workmen denied moving the boots. Thinking he may have been mistaken about where he had left them, he deliberately placed the boots on the chair when he left that night. The next morning, they were on the floor.

A professor with an office on Brodbeck’s second floor says he checks the door to the third floor to verify that it is locked when he leaves but finds it unlocked when he returns the next morning. For safety reasons, entrance to the third floor is forbidden and the doors to the third floor must be locked at all times.

Hood Facilities Division’s Jimmy Haines describes an incident he experienced during Snowmageddon (February 2010). He was clearing snow near Brodbeck. The blizzard was severe; no one was outside and no one was in Brodbeck that night. Yet, through the snowfall, a mysterious light was visible inside a third floor window. Its presence could not be explained. The third floor is reputed to be the most haunted area of the building.

Another member of the facilities staff tells of an incident he experienced while working fort Hood College as a safety officer. One of his routine duties was to lock Brodbeck’s exterior doors for the night.  His route required that he lock the first door then walk inside the building to lock the remaining doors. One night, he heard sounds from the area of the stage. He thought someone must be in the building. “Is someone there?” he asked.  No answer. He heard the sounds again. They sounded like footsteps but there was no one there. After this, he locked the doors from the outside.

With stories like this clearly in mind, the newspaper staff met to enter the building. Campus safety officer Douglas Young met the staff and unlocked the door. Officer Young knows much about the haunted history of the building. The spooky activity is old news to him. He speaks of it matter-of-factly; as if it’s a common occurrence.

He shows us the light switch in the music hall. “Mind you, sometimes they go on and off by themselves,” he says.

“Do they come out when the lights are on?” asked a staff member.

“They’re here all the time. We’ve seen them in the daytime. Two of our guards watched [a] little girl walk from here down to the chapel, and then she just disappeared. That was in daylight.” He tells of eyewitness accounts of orbs that move from the music hall’s balcony down toward the stage. “We’ve got countless orbs in here,” Young adds.

“Sometime during the night,” he says, “walk around the exterior of the building and look at the windows. Sometimes you’ll see a red dot.” A member of the newspaper staff admits that she has seen it, too.

“What’s the red dot?” asks another staff member.

“We don’t know,” Young replies. “Sometimes you’ll see a woman walking by a window carrying a candle.”

“Have fun,” he says as he leaves.

We set up our cameras and prepare to conduct a séance with an Ouija board. With only a dim glow from a fluorescent flashlight, we begin. The following is excerpted from the event:

“Is there anyone with us here today?” The pointer begins to move. It stops at the letter “H.” Questions to clarify this are unanswered.

“How many people are with you?” The pointer moves to “zero.”

“Are you male?” The reply is “female.”

“How old are you?” “Eight” is the reply.

“What year were you born?” The response indicates “1891” but the pointer continues to move. It stops at the letter “D.” An eight-year-old of that era may not know her birth year might know the year of her death, hence the “D.”

“What is your name?” The pointer again moves to “H.” Could this be an “H” representing a name? Hannah, Henrietta? The ‘talking board’ then stopped communicating, ending the séance.

Later, around midnight, a staff member heard a female laughing. Two students, Nicole Beller and Monica Devomanaharan, who were in the building practicing for an upcoming performance also heard the laughter. Both told of unusual activity they witnessed during late night practice sessions in the building.

Beller, once urged by her boyfriend as a way to overcome a touch of stage anxiety, came with him to the building one night to practice singing on the stage. She and her boyfriend both heard footsteps emanating from the third floor.

The last two Blue and Grey staff members left the building at 2 a.m., the early morning of All Hallows Eve. Was the reputation of Brodbeck Music Hall as one of Hood College’s most haunted structures upheld or disproven? Has anyone ever proven that spirits of the departed continue to roam the sites of their earthly existence after they have passed on? The final truth may lie in personal belief. There are those who believe and those who do not. The fact concerningBrodbeckMusic Hallis that unusual activity seems to be present in and around the building. Is this only a manifestation in the minds of those who know the building’s reputation or are the spirits of those who once lived before us dedicated to reminding us that they do exist? In the end, we must each decide for ourselves.

(The Blue and Grey staff wishes to express its gratitude to the Administration and to the Campus Safety Office of Hood College for granting us permission to perform this investigation and for their cooperation with making this article possible.)