Halloween means spooky stories, tricks and treats, and haunted houses. At campuses across the California State University (CSU), it also means a wide array of festivities, many for charitable causes.

And, of course, lots of sweets.

The fun began early this year at California State University, Long Beach with a Halloween carnival that featured games, a costume contest, and a screening of the 2012 horror flick "Sinister."

"Students had the opportunity to engage in interactive activities, network with each other and get to know new people," says Latifah Edobor, program assistant at the Beach Pride Center, which hosted the event with Associated Students, Inc. The carnival also had a photo booth, pumpkin painting and a sweet treat popcorn bar.

The Residential Housing Association at CSU Monterey Bay took their Halloween celebration a step further, with a clown-themed haunted house that's sure to draw some screams.

Today, CSU Channel Islands will host its annual Spooktacular event, featuring costume and decorating contests that raise funds and awareness for United Way of Ventura County.

On other campuses, Halloween takes on a slightly more eerie tone. Legend has it that ghosts have been spotted on the grounds of CSU East Bay, in Hayward (one of the spirits is said to wear a Little Bo Peep outfit), as well as in the theater at CSU Sacramento, which is haunted, it's said, by a young man who fell to his death while the building was being constructed.

Creepy tales like these can take on a life of their own. Rumors that the monolith statues at Chico State were haunted and even have cameras in their eyes, were recently debunked by students.

But the legend is based in at least a scrap of truth: One cenotaph, a monument to the deceased, depicts a woman offering a boy to the sky and is dedicated to a former student's cousin who disappeared. Inside the cenotaph lies one of his shirts, as well as a love letter from his wife.


Taking Time to Remember

Halloween is also now linked to its close cousin--Día de los Muertos.

This celebration, also known as All Souls Day, is usually held for three days, from October 31 to November 2; the event originated in Mexico, Latin America and Spain and serves as an occasion to honor the dead.

With a significant Latino/Hispanic population across the CSU, celebrations are commonplace and extremely festive, often involving local communities as well as students and faculty.

At CSU Monterey Bay, a "Day of the Dead Workshop" course brings students and faculty together to learn about Día de los Muertos and coordinate the campus's festive annual celebration of Aztec dancers and musicians, sugar skulls, traditional treats like pan dulce, and decorative altars called ofrendas.

This video shows a Día de los Muertos celebration at CSU Monterey Bay from 2010:


On the campus of CSU Northridge, Día de los Muertos events began with a night of reflection and a procession organized by Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan.

This year, Día de los Muertos celebrations will also be held on the campuses of CSU Long Beach, Channel Islands, San Marcos, Cal State LA and others. The event at CSU Fullerton in particular is very popular, thanks to strong involvement from the surrounding community, and will feature face painting and traditional ballet folklorico.

Though these holidays may be spooky or somber, Halloween and Día de los Muertos bring CSU campus communities together to strengthen bonds, increase cultural understanding, and to simply have fun.