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Sherwood Forest. Central Park. Blair Woods. The world has its share of places that you just don't venture into at night. But if you ask college students on Long Island, you can add some more turf to that list of terrifying terrain. Places like Chipmunk Trail, Bamboo Forest, Hempstead Turnpike.
There are many areas surrounding LI campuses that are plenty scarydark woods, abandoned buildings. But unless you're looking to spark one up, or are jonesing for some Grizzly Adams sex, you never need to go into them.
The truly scary places include those in which you might feel safe during the daythe shortcuts through the woods that save you a few extra minutes but could cost you something more. Here's an over-the-shoulder glance at the places where you should watch your back:
Most of the lights seem to have been put up as an afterthoughtfixtures are attached to the trunks of trees and wires are hanging everywhere. The path was just recently paved, however, and the big blue-light emergency box standing in the middle of the path has made the place more passable for nightcrawlers.
But the path is just a prelude for the really scary part of campus.
"The Seven Gates of Hell," William Laws, a Uniondale junior in computer graphics, says matter-of-factly, pointing to an area 50 feet down a wood-chip path to the north of the trail. "It's believed that Marjorie Post's ghost comes out at midnight and starts sacrificing cats."
The Seven Gates of Hell is a series of decaying brick arches leading to an open circle in the woods that looks like the kind of place Druids would frequent. We found no dead cats. But we did find a half-used pack of E-Z Wide rolling paper.
SUNY Stony Brook
Ask students what the scariest place on campus is, and they all say, "The woods." Unfortunately, that doesn't help: Most of the 1,100-acre campus is woods. But the biggest hellholes lie to the south of the main campus, where the buildings become more sparse and the trees begin to multiply.
Last November, a student was raped as she walked on an unmarked path between Tabler Quad and Roosevelt Quad. In May 1989, a woman was dragged into a grassy area between the Douglas and Dresier dormitories in Tabler Quad and raped.
A well-worn shortcut through the woods connecting Tabler Quad parking lot to the campus is filled with gnarled branches right out of the Brothers Grimm. "I park here all the time to go to the Life Sciences building," says a science post-doc who uses the shortcut during the day. "I only use it if it's daytime. Sometimes it makes noises in there, so I go around."
"We do want students to stay out of the wooded areas," explains Doug Little, deputy chief of the university police. "We put signs up saying these are not primary routes. But we live on Long Island. We always look for shortcuts. But those extra few minutes are insuring your personal safety."
"I've really never been scared on this campus," says Christopher Koestner, a Pittsburgh senior majoring in history and education. "I've heard of people getting robbed in the dorms." Some students are saying that a guy was recently found in a residence hall elevator bleeding from his ass after an assault. (That story couldn't be confirmed.)
John O'Malley, the school's assistant director for public safety, claims that Hofstra doesn't have its own version of the Chipmunk Trail or Blair Witch woods. "I've been here 13 years, and there has never been a place like that on campus. It's pretty well-occupied, people coming all hours of the night."
Police did report that a Uniondale man claimed he was robbed by three males armed with a handgun on campus on July 24 of this year.
The main evil of the campus, the students say, is Hempstead Turnpike.
The road that splits Hofstra in two is such a bitch to cross that the university would like to add two more "Unispans" to accompany the current overpass walkway that saves many freshmen from becoming road kill. And then there's the town that the turnpike leads to: the Village of Hempstead.
The Insider's Guide to Colleges flatly states in its description of Hofstra that "students do not go into Hempstead too often." But with a new Taco Bell down the street, you can be sure the Hofstra kids will be making more runs toward the center of town.
"Hempstead Turnpike ain't that bad," Koestner says in defense of his college town. "My family was telling me, 'You shouldn't go down that way. It's a seedy area down there.' People get scared about stupid things."