Legend of Vera, campus’s ghost

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The legend of Vera has become a staple of Pacific University culture. For decades, stories of the ghost in Knight Hall have circulated, and many rumors offer loose explanations of her origins. 

Whether tales of her demise or the supposed origins of the spirit hold any validity, there’s no denying that something haunts the grounds of Pacific.

Most stories of Vera seem to take place at Knight Hall; herself and the building have become intrinsically linked. Pacific own “Uncle Jeff” Grundon knows Vera all too well from his time working in the admissions offices.

Grundon says he’s had around 50 – 70 experiences with Vera during his time at Pacific. His latest experience occurred last spring, as he was calling students to congratulate them on acceptance to the university.

“It was about 7:15 a.m. and it was dark,” he said. “In the window, I see this blue form go past my door. All the hair on the back of my neck stood up. Every time she’s close, that happens — I get goosebumps. That was probably the freakiest.”

Though some experiences of Vera may be perceived as “freaky,” Grundon is quick to come to her defense.

“When you talk about personality, I think she’s pretty playful actually,” he says. “Mischievous. Not malicious at all.”

Though most stories of Vera surround Knight Hall, some students feel she’s not just the spirit of Knight, but rather of Pacific as a whole.

Travel cross campus to Warner Hall, the home of the Tom Miles Theater, and chances are you’ll get many stories of her activity. One student in the theater department has developed a sort of attachment to Vera, and had many encounters with her in her time spent in the building.

In one story, she was sitting alone in the green room backstage at night, when suddenly, she began to hear someone singing.

“I thought it must have been a student humming to themselves. But I came [into the lobby] and there weren’t any students here that would have matched the voice. So, I went into the theater,” she says. “It was loudest when I was standing center stage with no lights except for the ghost light on stage. So, I just sat there for a few minutes and listened to her sing.”

This story of Vera singing in the theater becomes even more fascinating when another detail of her legend comes into play. It’s often been thought that Vera, in her life, was a music student.

Common stories from Knight tell of Vera playing the piano. Knight itself was once the music building on campus, and though stories of Vera predate this quite a bit, it’s still interesting that where there is music on campus, stories of Vera are soon to follow.

“I think that she likes to wander around,” says the theater department source. “I’ve never had any encounters with her in Knight Hall or the music building. But I have had several friends say they’ve had encounters with her there.” 

Like Grundon, those in the theater department don’t see Vera as vengeful in the slightest. To those who have had encounters, Vera is a playful spirit.

“She likes to play tiny tricks, but they’re never harmful,” says the source. “She’ll move something that you’ve been working on or she’ll flicker the lights, but she never takes it farther than just a little thing here or there.”

As stories of Vera have circulated for decades now, many attempts have been made to record her paranormal presence. Back in 2014, a paranormal investigation team lead by members at Oregon Paranormal conducted an investigation of Knight. However, there was no such luck in recording any evidence. 

“The problem was that there were so many people that were involved with this investigation that weren’t actual investigators,” says Casey Goodwin, one of the investigators there that night. “I think there were 15 or so people who were part of this event. So, a lot of what we ended up coming out with was people talking over other people on different levels.”

Though no solid proof may have been recorded, Goodwin still thinks there’s plenty of validity to tales of Vera on campus.

“The claims have been there since I believe the 30s or 40s — in a time when you’re not dealing with the internet and a lack of written claims,” says Goodwin. “A lot of the people who had these claims didn’t know each other, didn’t know necessarily that the building or the campus was haunted, yet everybody tends to come up with the same stories or experiences.”

Though Vera may be the most famous haunt on Pacific’s grounds, she’s surely not alone. After all, there’s plenty of history to support more than one haunting on campus. Perhaps there’s more that goes bump in the night on the grounds. However, as long as Vera is around, there’s no need for fear.

“Sometimes I’ll come here and just get this horrible sensation that I’m not alone,” says the theater source. “I’ll feel like I’m being watched, and sometimes I’ll hear doors slam or things will fall next to me. But whenever I’m feeling Vera, it’s more peaceful, playful… almost like I’m with a friend.”


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