Have We Crossed A Line?

Halloween is the one time of year where people of all ages gather together in search of their greatest thrill. It is no secret that Milledgeville has somewhat of a haunted past. Whether it be the devastation left by Sherman on his march to the sea, confederate soldiers laid to rest in our local cemetery, an abandoned mental hospital, or supposedly haunted residence halls; there are a plethora of options when it comes to seeking a thrill during “spooky season”. However, in pursuit of a thrill, have GC campus life leaders gone too far? 

This year Sanford Hall hosted a haunted house event with admissions being granted if a student presented a can. This annual canned food drive brings attention to the chilling history of a former student at GC. This student, nicknamed “Cookie”, committed suicide on the third floor of Sanford hall in 1952. While it is true that the third floor has been closed off for years and contains only the air ventilation system, this student’s tragic death is now used as a fundraising tactic for students on a quest for a quick thrill. 

After this canned food drive, many students came forward admitting how offended they were by this housing event.  While I am unaware of any statements made by “Cookie’s” family, I cannot imagine that capitalizing on her death to raise money is a part of their annual agenda. 

For the past 8 years Zeta, a sorority on campus, holds a thriller 5K at Central State mental hospital. In attempts to raise money for their philanthropy, this sorority advertises this event in hopes to involve the entire community. In theory, hosting a thriller 5K, with sorority sisters dressed in their spookiest attire, is a fun event that people of all ages can enjoy. However, hosting this event on the grounds of such tragedy seems disrespectful on all levels. With this hospital finally shutting down in 2010, many family members of former patients must relive the brutality suffered by their loved ones with every mention of this house of terrors. 

There are upwards of 25,000 unmarked graves lining Central State, according to Atlas Obscura. While community members gather to run their thrilling race, they are actually stomping on the lost lives of many unfortunate patients. I understand that with tragedy, one must find the good. However, I do not believe that attention should be shifted from how horrible a place Central State was, and the nightmare it remains in the mind’s of survivor patients and relatives of those who did not make it. 

In attempts to highlight the nightmarish history that is Milledgeville, organizations may have crossed a line. I think that offering the utmost respect to families of those lost is and should be treated as the main priority when involving controversial historical sites of events. Instead of doing so, these organizations serve as perfect examples of how not to handle fundraising events or community events as a whole. 

While I think fundraising for a good cause, whether it be philanthropy or to make up for budget cuts, is of extreme importance, there is a way to and not to handle these events. In the future, I think that there should be pamphlets or some form of information honoring those who have passed as a way to celebrate their lives. I am not one to ever pass up a good thrill, but it should never be done at the expense of those lost.