Tag Archives: USC

Haunted PED Basement


“Um so this was a story told to me by one of the designers um that I’ve worked with being a wardrobe supervisor. Um because everyone always jokes that um I’m sure both of you are aware but in case you’re not underneath the Bing, not the Bing, underneath PED there is a defunct pool that has been revamped to house all of the costumes for the School of Dramatic Arts. Um I hate it down there *laughs* and um it’s a running gag for all of SDA that it is haunted cause you know creepy pool everyone is like “Oh it’s haunted bla bla bla” *high-pitched whimsical tone* um so we were talking about it one time, I don’t remember which designer told me this, but we were talking about it and um they were like “no, it is legit haunted down there” and we were like “what are you talking about?” And they were talking about one time that they were down there pulling stuff for their show and they heard a voice and um so they turn around and there’s just a person standing there, looks like a student, uh a younger person, and I don’t remember what they said to them but they said something about “oh I’m lost” or “oh I need something” like a “I don’t know what I’m doing around here” and the designer is like “oh”—had never seen this person before—and was like “Oh I thought I was by myself, what show are you working on? What do you need help with?” And they kept not answering the question and suddenly the designer turned back and the person was gone. There was no trace of this person. Umm so I was like “Do we know someone who has died in SDA in recent years?” and he was like “I have no clue” so yeah. Yeah, apparently there is live “evidence” *makes finger quotes around evidence* or an actual report of someone seeing a ghost um in the pool. *laughs*

I’m the kind of person who has always believed in spirits because 1. I think it’s interesting and 2. I don’t know I think I feel shit sometimes, but I also know that theater kids are dramatic *laughs* guilty. But on the other other hand, this was a designer, not an actor so I am—not to hate on my fellow actors, but it did lend itself to a bit more credibility in my eyes that it came from not someone who enjoys being on stage. So I don’t know I think there is a possibility. I definitely would be interested into doing research into if anyone in the program has passed away, there definitely had to be somebody who passed away during their time in this school …I just hate going down there. I feel like it has bad vibes down there I don’t know if it’s just that you can’t see around the corners because of all the stacked clothes or what. I get weird vibes in spaces. There’s something about the space itself, it has classic horror movie vibes what with the old tiles of the pool and it’s musty and gross.


The informant is heavily involved in the USC School of Dramatic Arts and has spent countless hours working for SDA in PED (Physical Education Building). The informant was first told of the haunting by their boss, a designer for SDA. The informant has moderate belief in the haunting but is not thoroughly convinced.  


I am not going to judge the validity of the haunting. However, I am not surprised that a haunting was reported within the PED basement. People involved in theater, work late nights during show rehearsals, and often the stage crew and behind-the-scenes personnel are working on their own for mini-assignments. Because of these factors, there are many opportunities for people to be alone and tired, at night in an old building. Furthermore, theater shows will often try to foster a sense of community and a shared experience such as a haunted room could aid in building comradery.

Fraternity Term

  1. Scope
  2. In a continuation of an interview I did with a classmate of mine in my anthropology discussion class he shared with me some of his fraternity terms and here is what he said: “Scoping is another one, its like to look at. If you are wearing something funny… you can say ‘yo! Scope me’ that’s a few of my fraternity terms”
  3. As he got this term from his fraternity, I find it common knowledge that brother in a fraternity often like to use slang or shorten their words when they talk to each other. This could be to come off as cooler to others or to feel a sense of community knowing you are in a house or organization that has its own language essentially. He did not reveal to me the origins of this saying, but I assume it has been around long enough to become relevant now. I would not personally use this term, but when looking at the definition of the word scope, used in the context my friend did, it seems to make sense. When thinking somewhat historically, people or even animals would “scope out” or look around their surroundings to find someone or something, so this one is not a far reach.

USC Campus Legend: Secret tunnels to the Coliseum


EL: “The Olympics were here, long ago, and there’s the Olympic Village, which is housing where the Olympians stayed. Supposedly, there are underground tunnels from the Olympic village to the Coliseum that people used to party in, and apparently there was a party drug problem down there in the eighties so they sealed them all up and you can’t get into them anymore. But no one knows where the entrances are. And they’re spooky.”


The informant is a 20-year-old college student from New Jersey. She learned this legend while exchanging lore with other students who rushed a sorority with her. One of her peers, who is now a friend, told EL that these tunnels, which were supposedly intended to provide athletes with discrete transportation to the stadiums, was co-opted by students as a secret party space in the 1980s.

         USC’s Coliseum, which was first constructed in 1923 and now seats approximately 80,000 individuals, hosted the Summer Olympics in 1932 and again in 1984. Many USC students and alumni have competed at the Olympics, which is a source of school pride for some. School folklore around the Olympics includes the legend there is a tree on campus which was donated to the university by Hitler in celebration of the USC athletes who participated in the 1936 Olympics in Munich.


This legend pieces together interesting parts of USC’s culture and history and creates a compelling mystery. Members of the school community can take pride in the Olympics, a globally and historically significant event which garners attention from around the world, took place at the Coliseum. Moreover, USC has a longstanding reputation for partying, and the 1980s is notorious for its culture of drug use around LA and around the country. To some students, the idea that these tunnels were sealed makes the legend of the secret underground tunnel both believable and exciting, since they can cite it as evidence of the intensity of the school’s party culture. 

While this legend has the elements of mystery and seediness which tends to make stories universally compelling, I think that it provides a mode of social bonding particularly for USC students. Because the legend is so specific to the school, it takes on more significance to members of the community because it is more relevant to their lives. This shared interest gives USC students something to bond over. People can connect with one another through telling the story, through arguing or sharing conspiracies about its existence.

I have never heard of students actually trying to find the sealed off entrances to the underground tunnels, but if people have, I imagine that they were motivated by a sense of connection to the school and a desire to access this epic part of the school’s history. However, I think the main intrigue of this legend is its social function and the fun of talking about it. 

Screenwriting Admissions – Champion Reveal

“When I went to admitted student day back as a senior, and there was like this panel of like upperclassmen getting ready to graduate and they were doing a Q&A…and they said that there was like a room somewhere that they go to specifically to do the applications each year to read them and then before we graduate they’ll take us to that room and be like “oh this is where you were chosen” or something like that.”

Context: This was an addendum to a different piece of screenwriting folklore, which is that each student was chosen by a “champion”, a specific professor.

Thoughts: This is an interesting addition to the larger piece of folklore (which you can find elsewhere on the archive). It makes sense that there is a singular room that admissions are done in if they’re actually fighting over students. It really does add to the cult-like feeling of such a small major. 

Taser Tag at the Exposition Park Rose Garden

I heard about this game while many of my housemates were gathered around a table and drinking. The first time the speaker shared this story, he also bragged about other rules he had broken as a child or young adult. This story is an example of ‘forbidden play’ and it took place near the University of Southern California.


After the Exposition Park Rose Garden closes for the night, those who enter can be apprehended for trespassing. From 2013 to 2015, the speaker said that the cycling community in Los Angeles was “massive.” After one large race in 2013, the speaker’s friends gathered in the rose garden and someone suggested that the group of 13, 14 and 15-year-olds play taser tag. Cyclists carried tasers, knives or brass knuckled with them and they rode ‘suicide bikes’ or racing bicycles that have the breaks removed. ” A lot of us have very traumatic lives where we just pain sometimes makes us feel alive.” The speaker explained that about 15 of the 50 cyclists gathered owned tasers, and that the game was well received by the group.

In the event that state troopers caught the boys in the rose garden, they would scatter. Those who were caught were given “a slap on the wrist” and sent home.

The speaker never had a taser, so he was a ‘runner.’ There were no rules about where tasers could attack. ” You could taste in the nuts. It’s wherever this person lands the taser. The good thing is it wasn’t high voltage… enough to drop you on the ground. That’s it.” The speaker said he had been tased in the neck. Girls could attack with tasers but the speaker said they seldom outran the boys. Anyone playing Taser Tag in the rose garden was fair game for attack. He admitted that Taser Tag was fun because it was forbidden, as was “using self defense weapons as offensive weapons.”

Taser Tag games with the speaker’s group occurred five times between 2013 and 2015. The last time, one member brought pepper spray and the speaker said “All 10 of us suffocated. And you’re like, Dude, this guy that comes back. We’re going to hurt him.”

The speaker said that “growing in South LA is kind of like a free for all,” and that “whenever a bunch of kids run around with bikes, I rather see them doing that than dealing drugs.” The speaker noted that some of his cyclist friends who played Taser Tag did get involved in gang activity after their group dissolved. When asked what the game meant to him, the speaker said that this “was a day where all of us no matter what ethnicity where we’re from, who we are, it’s just fun. And that fun involves a little bit of pain.”


This speaker retold this story in front of friends. I believe that this memory is important for the speaker because many of his friends have left or are no longer living. This memory is also important because the speaker enjoys rough activities, and it is difficult to engage in rough-and-tumble activity as an adult. I believe this time reminds him of an era where he did not have to worry about larger adult problems, and this brings a sort of nostalgia for something one can never do again.

For more information on forbidden play, see Folk Groups & Folklore Genres Chapter 5, Children’s Folklore by Jay Mechling.