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NYU: View From The Ground Up

Malachi Blackwell; April 6-21, 2010


Malachi Blackwell; February 8, 2010



I'm asking my people to keep an eye out for anyone who is asking questions/looking for leads regarding unusual activities/habits of students or faculty. I would like to know (if possible) who they are, what they're looking for, and who they work for.

Influence Response:

The rumor mill is abuzz with news regarding the recent disappearance of a tenured history professor along with one of his grad students. Apparently, the guy had a thing for the professor for quite a while. He'd been following the guy, asking people questions about him, and generally showing a somewhat more than academic interest in him.

The general consensus is that the prof wasn't exactly oblivious to his advances, and that they've snuck off for a tryst somewhere in Europe.

ST Notes: Niklaus is the professor. The grad student is a SAD plant sent to keep an eye on him. They are not having a gay tryst.


Malachi Blackwell; March 3, 2010


I am looking into the existence of old steam tunnels, access tunnels and so on in the university. I would like to know if any connect to the sewers, what buildings they connect to, how are they secured, are they watched, and whether or not they might make for a good hiding place/escape route.

Influence Response:

In addition to sewer access, you find a number of old tunnels. In particular, there is a surprisingly convenient access under the library. Upon delving deeper, you discover the tunnels would indeed make for an excellent way to escape and/or hide from pursuers. The tunnels gradually grow dark and twisting, filled with dead ends and half-hidden paths.

Satisfied for the evening with your explorations, you decide to head back, only to find yourself somewhat lost. While the path forward seemed pretty straightforward, it seems you forgot a turn somewhere on the way back. Either that, or the passages can shift about of their own accord.

You push such thoughts from your head as you set about methodically retracing your steps. Try as you might though, you can't seem to escape. You chide yourself nervously. You'd been so fixated on finding an escape route you hadn't even thought about how easy it was to get lost down here.

Suddenly, you stop. The angles seem wrong, oily and slick, and you're overcome with vertigo for a moment. Some force is pulling you deeper. You're sure of it.

You turn and run. There's something down here with you.

Eventually, your blind panicked flight leads you to what appears to be, unnervingly enough, a ransacked occult library of all things. It's unclear what happened but based on the few remaining books, at some point there probably existed a fairly sizable library here.

You find strange markings along one of the walls. You can't be certain of its purpose, but you think it's some sort of sigil or seal. It's been partially worn away, but with some quick work, you manage to restore it. Instantly, you feel calmer and less ill at ease.

You eventually manage to find your way back. You were not watched, as far as you can tell. Not by anything human anyway.


Malachi Blackwell; March 23, 2010



I am seeking to encourage good relations between myself and the employees of NYU by interviewing the cleaning, maintenance, and care taking staff (past and present) to both gather more information on the university as well as to assemble a book on their views of NYU. I think I will provisionally title it "NYU - View from the Ground Up" and have it be about the experiences working for the University and some of the strange pranks/occurrences there. Of course I will also keep an eye out for interesting or useful information too...

Influence Response:

You are surprised by the font of information that flows from the lips of the blue-collar workers at NYU. While a scant few are content to talk about the problems the labor union had with negotiations for healthcare back in 2009 or about the recent question of school policy on vegan food handling procedures, anyone who has been at the college for more than a year or so has some wild stories to tell.

For example, everyone is still abuzz about the strange goings on from back when a young professor, Lillian Greer, got a tenured seat in the Philosophy Department. Apparently (and it was even in the news for a while) there was an attempt on her life made by a deranged stalker - one Dr. Gretchen Faustus from the Religion Department at Columbia. There was talk of some manner of secret occult group which Faustus was entangled in and apparently a freshman student in one of Greer's introductory classes ending up being beaten to death (although no charges we ever filed regarding the incident). It was the sort of shocking thing you'd think you'd only see in a movie. Old Gerald from the head of sanitation remembers he had to power-brush off graffiti off of Silver Center.

"There were three serpents in a circle... it was strange stuff. And if ya know what I mean, I really hope it was just red paint." Apparently in the end, Faustus committed suicide after killing her eight year old daughter - drove them both into a ravine. Greer didn't fare much better. After the whole ordeal was finally passed, the unlucky woman ended up diagnosed with leukemia. Went on medical hiatus and then just... disappeared in the Spring of 2006. Nobody really thinks she's still alive.

There's also a few stories tossed around about a brief spree of stranger rapes from back in 2005, and, of course, the famous story of the Bobst boy - a student who took to living in the library basement rather than paying the Manhattan costs of off-campus housing. Several of the staff remember him fondly, some remember him with irritation.

The most fascinating story as far as you are concerned, however, probably regards the death of a graduate student named Joy Kamigawa. She apparently had been studying over at Lehrman Hall at Barnard College's campus late one night, and then... nobody knows quite what happened. She was found with her skin all white and bruises that looked... looked... like claw marks of some sort (relates a friend of a friend of the now-retired security guard who saw her). And after that, the folks at Columbia found out about the whole "second basement" in the building. Apparently some fraternity (nobody knows which one - it was hushed up!) was having "secret society meetings" back where collections storage B used to be kept.

"Of course, the one case had nothing to do with the other, you know. The investigation just happened to uncover the whole secret basement thing. But, of course, things got sensationalized a bit. Heh. Still talks of secret boogeyman cults trying to cut up pretty girls on the full moon and what's not if you ask the right people."

In general, a lot of people are really pleased with the attention you pay them, even if the material you garner isn't quite what you'd originally hoped to put in your book.

GROW successful. You have 1/3 GROW points.


Malachi Blackwell; March 23, 2010



I am going to be looking into anything about underground libraries/hidden repositories of knowledge in New York. I want to see if I can find anything about that library I discovered. I will also be looking into the seal I repaired, to see if I can find out anything about that. if possible I would like to get a drawing or picture of it... something I can study in case I need to use it...

Influence Response:

You are STEALTHed.

Like the aging janitorial staff at NYU claimed, people did indeed find a sub basement over at Columbia's Lehrman Hall that had apparently been used by some manner of on-campus secret society - at least that's what the papers from around December 2006 say...

When you ask around your circle of friends for more information on such a library, they tell you that not a lot of people from the pertinent communities really got called as consultants on the Kamigawa case. Apparently, some people catching glance of the various sigils shown in the tabloids felt they might be the work of somebody a little more serious than a bunch of frat boys goofing about. Apparently a few haggard old men from the rather exclusive Old Tomes Society down in Manhattan claimed that there were clearly visible warding seal present... warding against what? Who can really say?

You try desperately to hunt down people who had a firm opinion on things regarding the Kamigawa case, hoping to find out what the completed seal means. You eventually get a fax from an Eliott O'Niel, whose father was a scholar on topics of symbolic magic before he passed. It's a diagram of something from his father's notes that looks sort of like the picture you've been discreetly passing around. Apparently it's for "protection against ill spirits."

ST Notes: Just the old Tremere Chantry, with their broken Wards against everything


Malachi Blackwell; April 4, 2010



I'm going to keep talking to people at NYU, especially those long term workers at the university, but I will also be asking advice as to who to talk to for follow up on some of the stories. Will any of the faculty/administration know about these things? Were they handled entirely (and obviously competently) by the maintenance/cleaning staff? Did any students/student organizations get involved? I'd like to have their comments as I develop "flowcharts of events" (basically diagramming what people/groups dealt with which crisis/event, effectively starting a map of the flow of power in the University.)

Influence Response:

A lot of the staff whose company you keep is actually somewhat pleased to hear that you're interested in all the various scandals that the college has endured - while there's a definite feeling of nervousness about the whole affair as the various clerks and janitors continue to gossip with you, a lot of them seem genuinely relieved to finally be able to talk about what's happened. As old Gerald sums it up quite succinctly, "It's as though nobody on this campus wants to remember those years ever happened. Can't say that I blame them."

You naturally get different stories from different sources. The library desk clerk seems rather convinced that Greer was being victimized by somebody even before the Faustus scandal hit ("Poor thing was white as a sheet... even before the whole mess started. Barely spoke to anyone outside of classes. Kept forgetting to order books. Had her arm in a cast one month and changed the subject whenever anyone commented on it."), while the secretary of the department of Philosophy claims that she was having an affair with somebody higher up and using it as leverage to maintain her position ("She was always checking into the building after hours... and you know, she was young, not really the sort of woman I'd expect to land tenure after one year, if you know what I'm saying? The head of the department at the time had a few two many private meetings with that girl, if you catch my drift.").

As for Faustus, you quickly also uncover that her daughter (the one that was killed with her in her suicidal car accident) was apparently suspected of having been featured in pornographic videos with the former President of Columbia college, Martin Spangfeld, who was tried and convicted in 2007 over charges of child rape after a scandal a year earlier in which the police were somehow anonymously sent copies of his "home movies." No positive ID was made, however, given the condition of the girl's body and the strange lack of any photographs of the girl among Faustus' belongings. Obviously, as you're talking to the staff at NYU (and not Columbia) you don't get quite as many details regarding Faustus as you may like.

Over and over again, no matter what it is you're asking about, the same two women who seem to dominate discussions of the strange happenings on campus, even ones that occurred after their respective deaths. You find people who are quick to connect Fautus' cult of the red serpent to the "fraternity kids messing around" under Lehrman and hear some people speculate that Kamigawa was a sacrifice to try to reestablish "the order." You hear one groundskeeper speculate that the rapist from '05 might have had something to do with Lillian's sudden withdrawal from one of her courses that year... she apparently got rather quickly involved in the push to upgrade campus security soon after.

From what you can tell, a lot was done to try to distance the rest of the NYU faculty that wasn't Lillian Greer from the incidents, and when practical, strange happenings always had their roots in the students or, even better yet, in people outside of campus. The staff was motivated to close ranks with the faculty when police investigations inevitably occurred, and nobody on campus was ever charged or seriously investigated.

After a rather intense week of casual interviews and long meet-ups for coffee, you get the following on each incident:


Gretchen Faustus' Cult, Eventual Suicide and Ties to Child Pornography

  • Most of the trouble with Dr. Gretchen Faustus was, of course, handled by the staff at Columbia. It only really impacted NYU insofar as it affected Greer, who made claims that she was being targeted.

  • The student who ended up dead, Adam Hinkley, was found beaten to death on April 17, 2005. Initially, the school believed that he had died in a hazing ritual gone amok (He was a pledge in Sigma Kappa Delta, which had a bad rep at the time), but rumors later surfaced that he was found with a passage from Nietzsche's The Gay Science near his body. This was quickly hushed up by the Philosophy Department head at the time, who claimed that several such papers had been given to students as handouts in a mid-level class on Schopenhauer and Nietzsche that Greer was teaching, and which Hinkley was enrolled in.

  • The department of campus security (headed by Jack W. Summer at the time) initially responded to Greer's claims that Faustus was stalking her, but the case soon moved to the NYPD proper. Greer claimed that she'd received threatening calls from Faustus and that a chicken whose throat had been slit had been left outside her office. Gerald confirms that the red serpent spray paint was, in fact, left at the building where Greer worked.

  • A rather catty cleaning lady who was apparently in the background a bit insinuates that while something was obviously up with Hinkley's death, Greer's accusations seemed a little... off. She claims that Greer had a habit of constantly playing the victim, and that she seemed to garner a lot of sympathy from the men she worked with as a result. She doesn't quite come out and say that she thinks the complaint was falsified, though.

  • Hinkley's parents later launched an unsuccessful civil lawsuit against members of Sigma Kappa Delta but eventually lost when no compelling evidence could be found that a hazing had ever taken place. There are rumors, however, that somebody connected to President Marix attempted to settle with them under the table.

Lillian Greer's Career, Illness and Eventual Disappearance

  • Greer took a medical leave after her diagnosis with leukemia in 2006 but still apparently had a habit of popping up around campus even when she was in the late stages of chemo. In addition to rumors that she was sleeping with the head of the philosophy department, you hear some people try to connect her and President Elias Marix, whom she apparently was close friends with.

  • There were rumors that Greer had a somewhat problematic past at the University of Boston, where she previously taught, even though she'd apparently gotten glowing recommendation from the staff there. Hearsay says that she had gotten a little too close to one of her male students. The NYU Philosophy Department made no public statement about Greer's disappearance in 2007, and was somewhat strangely quiet about the whole affair. The head of the Department, John Sievers, apparently took a sabbatical the next semester rather unexpectedly.

Rape Cases in 2005

  • Over a period of a little more than a week in 2005, eight students were attacked. A few of them reported seeing their attacker and described him as a heavyset, heavily scarred, bald man. Nobody was ever charged in the case.

  • Rebecca Wardle, a 19-year-old NYU pre-med student at the time of her attack, was apparently traumatized enough by her attack that she dropped out of school, and her father Henry Wardle (an NYU alumni) later withdrew a very large donation he had been intended to put towards the school's remodeling of the Student Union.

  • There was a massive push to increase security after the attacks, and (surprise surprise) Lillian Greer, in spite of being an exceptionally young professor who wasn't supposed to be that entrenched in the university, spent a considerable amount of time and effort with the committee that oversaw the changes.

  • Oddly enough, a lot of the new security features seemed to apply to the libraries rather than the dormitories, as several of the attacks apparently took place outside Bobst.

Bobst Boy

  • Bobst Boy's real name is Steven Stanzak. He lived in the basement of Bobst library from September 2003 to April 2004, due to allegedly not having enough money to afford both housing and tuition.

  • Stanzak was eventually interviewed by the Washington Square News. Once the story printed, there was apparently a bit of a kerfuffle with the faculty, many of whom hadn't been aware that there was a student living at the library. No action was taken, however, given the bad press it might generate.

Death of Joy Kamigawa and the Secret Crazy Occult Room Under Lehrman Hall at Columbia

  • Joy Kamigawa wasn't actually a student at NYU or Columbia (She had a Masters in History from Tulane.) but had apparently been working with Professor McPherson in NYU's history department on some sort of folklore project and had access to the university library facilities both there and at Columbia and Barnard. She was found dead on December 9, 2007. The cause of death was somewhat confusing, and most people on campus (and presumably in the Police Department) still aren't certain what it was that she died of.

  • Apparently the police (and not Columbia's campus security... which was odd) had already been investigating unauthorized student activity under Lehrman Hall before Joy's death. You hear somebody mention that there were suspicions that the room was somehow being used by somebody connected to that "crazy cult of the black rose or something" which apparently had been responsible for a child sacrifice case earlier that year.

  • Everyone connected to any and all fraternities and sororities who have chapters at Columbia firmly deny any connection to Joy Kamigawa or the strange sub-basement at Lehrman Hall.

Niklaus von Metternich and his Hot Gay Lover

  • Curiously enough, you come upon some juicy gossip that finally names that one history professor who went missing... you know, the one alleged to be having an affair with a male student? His name was Niklaus von Metternich. The student's name was Matthew Kent, if you're interested.

GROW successful. You have 2/3 GROW points.

OOC Notes: All UnMasqued University personalities have no connection to any real life counterpart.

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