RMU’s eighth annual ‘Creepy Conference’


Photo credit: Mohannad Alsuwadiaa

Samantha Sektnan

With three days before Halloween, the Department of English at Robert Morris University and Sigma Tau Delta presented an evening of Gothic horror with the eighth annual Creepy Conference from 7-9 p.m. in the Wheatley Atrium. All were welcome to attend the event for free and SET Credit was made available for RMU students.

In order to become a presenter at the Creepy Conference, any interested individual must submit a one page description to Sylvia Pamboukian, head of the department of English, on what they would like to present. Those selected will receive Undergraduate Research SET credit.

This year’s Creepy Conference began with professor of English John Lawson introducing the event to the audience.

Whether an individual seeks to present at the event or be an audience member, “The main point is to have fun and it is fun every year. You can do scholarly presentations or creative presentations,” said Lawson.

The event consisted of two panels, the first panel including Denni Claycomb’s “Fayette Cry Folklore,” Matt Schibler’s “Aokigahara: Suicide Forest,” Savanah Buhite’s “Cryptozoology,” and Taylar McCoy’s “Parasomnia.”

Claycomb, a guest presenter, explained a few legends in her “Fayette Cry Folklore.” One of her discussions included the tale of Betty Knox, whom is believed to haunt the trails that she so enjoyed walking through when she was alive.

Senior Schibler discussed some of the history of the Aokigahara forest at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. For thousands of years, the forest has been known as a place of demons in Japanese mythology and is referred to as the “Suicide Forest,” with dozens of suicides occurring there every year.

Education major Buhite explained her work with middle school students on the topic of cryptozoology. The various names and drawings of animals created by these students provided a humorous scene for the audience to enjoy.

Psychology major McCoy was ecstatic to make her debut as a presenter at this year’s Creepy Conference.

“I took a concept from my ‘Psychology of Paranormal Beliefs’ course, which was parasomnia, and I expanded on it. This was a very enriching experience and I encourage everyone to submit something for the Creepy Conference next year,” said McCoy.

After the conclusion of the first panel, audience member Ariana Anderson explained her excitement by saying that, “The Creepy Conference is super cool and awesome. It is full of supernatural stories and free good hot chocolate.”

The second panel consisted of Katie Bell’s “Russian Sleep Experiment,” Yukihi Suzuki’s “Ugly Side of Beauty,” and Dr. Sylvia Pamboukian’s “Harry Potter and Medieval Medicine.”

Bell told the legend of the “Russian Sleep Experiment,” which included test subjects being subjected to a gas that did not allow them to sleep. Although the study was supposed to last thirty days, the subjects did not last that long, after performing violent physical acts to themselves, which eventually led to all their deaths.

Suzuki used examples of painting by three artists through the “Ugly Side of Beauty.” She explained that by looking at these paintings through a different perspective, one’s view of the art changes.

Pamboukian was the final presenter of the night with her “Harry Potter and Medieval Medicine” discussion. She related Harry Potter to medieval times, due to the shared emphasis on using magic and medicine at the same time.

The Eighth annual Creepy Conference was a success, with a room packed full of Halloween fanatics and seven unique discussions. Not only did the audience hear legends of horror, but they were also presented with some informative knowledge on the subject of Gothic horror.

The Department of English congratulates the Creepy Conference VIII’s Faculty Award Winners: Taylar McCoy for her presentation “Parasomnia” and Matt Schibler for his presentation on “Aokigahara: Suicide Forest.”