Sweet Briar College’s Daisy Williams is about to get her 15 minutes of fame.
The long-deceased daughter of college founder Indiana Fletcher Williams is the subject of many ghost stories at the college, though her actions tend to be more mischievous than threatening.
“The students love Daisy,” religion professor Cathy Gutierrez said. “She’s more of a mascot than a ghost.”
Tales of Daisy and other Sweet Briar ghosts will be featured in an episode of the new SyFy channel series “School Spirits,” which airs at 10 p.m. Wednesday.
The series — which comes from “Survivor” executive producer Mark Burnett and the creators of “Celebrity Ghost Stories” — claims to “take viewers on a spooky thrill ride through some of the most infamously haunted colleges and high schools nationwide.”
Sweet Briar got involved when producers contacted officials at the college last year and asked them to put out a casting call to current and former students who had ghost stories or other paranormal experiences to share.
No scenes were actually filmed on campus; instead, producers brought a group of students, alumni and staff who responded to the original casting call toNew Yorkand interviewed them about their experiences.
The episode will feature reenactments of their stories.
“I sat in a room for eight-and-a-half hours filming, and [then] we were right back on the plane,” said rising senior Dani Humphrey, whose experience is featured in the promos for the Sweet Briar episode, titled “Ghostly Girls’ School.”
She said she thinks producers chose her story because it actually didn’t involve Daisy but Indiana Fletcher Williams’ much more sinister-sounding brother, Lucien.
“It started off as random things happening in my dorm room. Certain things moving, scratching noises from a room that no one lived in,” she said. “Sophomore year, my roommate and I … woke up in the middle of the night to see a man sitting on the edge of our air mattress. It was freaky.”
Humphrey said they had repeated encounters with his ghost over the years, almost as if he was following them from dorm to dorm.
“One night, I fell asleep and I had this dream that I was being shaken,” she said. “And I woke up, went to my swim meet and one of my teammates was like, ‘Dani, what’s on your arm?’ I had a bruise that was wrapped around my entire bicep.”
But Humphrey said it was never enough to scare her out of returning to Sweet Briar.
“For me, personally, I figure that it’s just him trying to kick out as many people as possible,” she said. “You can’t run away from something that you don’t know. It’s just a negative energy, and the more positive energy you put out, it cancels it out. Why not just stick it to him? Like, yo, I’m not leaving.”
Gutierrez hasn’t had any ghostly encounters herself, but was interviewed for the episode to give some historical context.
“This whole area was deeply affected by the Civil War,” she said. “The idea that ghosts linger … is kind of a way of connecting us to the college.”
Now that her story is about to go public, Humphrey said she’s excited but also nervous.
“I don’t know how people are going to take it,” she said.
“When people go on these shows, the number one fear is being perceived as crazy. I’m excited to get the story out there. I think everyone needs to know about it. It is an idyllic campus, but there are secrets that the outside world needs to know.”