Its nearly 2 in the morning. The campus is dark, quiet and cold. One by one the last of students lights go out, leaving a sleepy stillness that accommodates their slumber.
Then a phone rings. Are you awake? whispers a womans voice.
Its her: the Whispering Woman. By phone, she has haunted students for years in the small hours of night, looking for conversation, perhaps, or some personal information. Her midnight phone calls have become legend among Smith students, though no one knows who she is, only that she whispers and seems to call students at random. Although usually mundane chatter, her phone calls have occasionally unraveled into harassment, sometimes sexual.
Jacqueline Broder 06 got The Call, as students refer to a solicitation from the Whispering Woman, shortly after arriving at Smith. I answered and was a little groggy, she recalls. She messed up my REM cycle. She was talking in such a whisper I couldnt understand what she was saying. I hung up and she called back twice, and then she called someone else. I could hear the phone going off down the hall.
Erika Moore 04 handled a call last year from the Whispering Woman similarly. She just whispers, hello, she says. Im scared of ghosts and stuff so I had to hang up.
Public Safety staff members have worked on resolving the Whispering Woman mystery for years. This has been a problem for 10 yrs or so, says Scott Graham, assistant director of public safety. The anonymous caller typically begins calling one campus extension then continues calling all the extensions of one or two floors in a residence in a night, says Graham. But because of the way the phone system is set up here, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to trace calls like that.
Its possible that with time the Whispering Woman will stop calling on her own. The level of calls has dropped dramatically in the past years, and hopefully this problem will eventually just go away, says Graham. This year, we only had a couple or three reported.
The issue of the Whispering Woman is relayed to incoming students each year during orientation, Graham says. Mount Holyoke College has reported a similar anonymous caller to its students, too, he notes.
Until she disappears, students are advised by Public Safety to hang up whenever they do not recognize a caller.
Meanwhile, the legend of the Whispering Woman continues on in the lore of Smiths many mysteries.