The Froiland was under complete control of the recently introduced digital anatomy table as of last week. The building was evacuated Monday afternoon when the biology department staff noticed a voice and “electronic beeping sounds” coming from Biology Lab Two on the second floor.
Last Sunday night, freshman Jessica Wren stayed in the lab late by herself to study for the second anatomy exam of the semester. She was not allowed to be in the lab by herself, but she had propped the door open after a group tutoring session for extra time.
“I was using the lab table to see some of the muscles we couldn’t see on the models, like some of the back muscle groups,” she said. “But when I tried to label one of the spinous muscles by tapping on it, my hand was stuck to the screen, almost like something was holding my hand there.”
Wren said she broke loose from the table after some initial confusion. That’s when she heard a voice.
“I thought I was going crazy with sleep deprivation,” Wren said. “The table started talking to me, saying things like ‘you’ll never be as great as me’ and ‘you’re human, you’re already supposed to know all of this.’ And then it started calling me names.”
When she tried to unplug the machine, Wren said it shocked her with a small electrical current. She fled the scene without notifying anyone in the biology department or Campus Safety since she had broken the lab rules to begin with.
The Froiland maintenance staff reported seeing a human skeleton walking around the lab at approximately 4 a.m. It was attempting to open the lab door.
On Monday morning during the 8 a.m. anatomy class, biology professor Kevin Natukunda announced to the class that lab was canceled for the week due to technical difficulties. That’s when the anatomy table jumped to TV screens around the Froiland and students were evacuated.
Natukunda said he received a call from the Froiland maintenance staff about a disturbance coming from the anatomy lab. He said the staff informed him that a human skeleton was walking around the lab and it jiggled the door handle.
The skeleton in question is Chad, the anatomy lab skeletal model. Maintenance speculated that the digital anatomy table transferred some of its consciousness into something more humanoid.
Natukunda was responsible for bringing the digital anatomy table to the university last fall. The table is projected to save the department money in the long run since a classroom full of preserved cats is not necessary.
“I had no clue it would do this,” Natukunda said. “I heard about some strange things happening in other labs around the country, but they were all fixable and normal. I think it should run its course soon. We can unplug it, but we still need the table for future uses in the lab.”
Natukunda said the lab is looking into a full refund on the table and going back to purchasing animals for dissection.
Rick Tupper, associate vice president for Campus Safety and logistics, has not given up yet. He urges students to stay calm but be mindful of the Froiland.
“This is not a unique situation,” he said. “We dealt with it last year nationally with the bird surveillance cameras, which was a much bigger chicken to cook. It’s just localized. That’s all.”
The event Tupper mentioned was the 2021 Bird Brigade, one of the biggest investigative stories to break since Watergate.
Tupper predicts that the Froiland should be open next Wednesday at the latest. In the meantime, students are encouraged to stay off devices near the Froiland building and avoid contact with Chad.