As an SMU student, I have heard all of the rumors. I’ve heard that the ghost of former School President Umphrey Lee haunted the west stacks of Fondren Library before they were demolished. I've heard that there are secret tunnels underneath Perkins School of Theology that lead to Meadows School of the Arts (and that it's possible to get locked in and die of heat stroke down there). My favorite SMU rumor had to do with the fourth floor of our landmark building Dallas Hall.
As a freshman, I had heard there was a secret apartment up at the top of Dallas Hall. While it didn't spark my interest at the time, it grabbed my attention this year and I've done some research about where this secret door to this secret room was located.
I've read all of the very few articles published about this secret area. Each gave me slightly different "facts" about the secret room. For example, one article stated the door to the spiral staircase leading up to the room was on the first floor of Dallas Hall. Yet this claim was contradicted by some of my friends who insisted the secret door was on the third floor.
These articles also explained (or rather, spouted theories about) some history behind the secret room upstairs in Dallas Hall. Some say it was the president's old office while others say the room used to be a small dormitory. My favorite piece claims you can look out one of the windows and see all the way to Arlington, Texas, home of AT&T Stadium. Yet to this day, I am still not entirely positive where this secret room is supposed to be or what it is supposed to represent.
So after this reading, I’m sure you are curious as to whether or not I found the secret room in Dallas Hall. Well, I’ll say this much: I think I definitely found the secret door. It fits the descriptions almost perfectly. I found a white, locked, unmarked door in Dallas Hall among all the other unmarked doors that turned out to be just janitor’s closets and mechanical rooms.
I can also ask this question though: why does the administrative staff not want students getting up to this secret room? If the stairs are so rickety, why don’t we reinforce them? If it’s so hot, why don’t we put in air conditioning? Why do we not make this “time capsule” an actual time capsule? We could learn so much history from this secret room if we were allowed to actually use it! I think that SMU should either demolish this piece of history or make it safe enough to where students could actually go up there and get a feel for what the university was like way back in the day. Plus, maybe there would be less curious students wandering up there if it wasn’t basically illegal.
Or is there another reason, maybe a dark secret, that this room is blocked off? Only time will tell…