Sightings of people dressed up as clowns and skulking around university campuses have seen a drastic rise over the past few weeks, triggering our deep-seated fear of ‘killer’ clowns. (Stephen King, we’re looking at you.)
Starting in the U.S., the so-called ‘creepy clown craze’ has since spread to universities in Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, resulting in university administrators cracking down on those found clowning around.
Last week, in response to rumors of a possible campus lockdown after a clown was seen roaming around the campus of Quinnipiac University in the U.S., university management said that the university was secure and operating normally.
The University is secure and is NOT in lockdown. All campus operations are running normally.
— QuinnipiacUniversity (@QuinnipiacU) October 4, 2016
John Morgan, a spokesman for the university, told the Hartford Courant that they had received several calls about a clown, but found nothing after investigating.
At Pennsylvania State University, hundreds of students held a “clown hunt” after an alleged sighting, with videos of screaming students running around campus being shared across social media.
Students at other universities, such as Michigan State University, Belmont University and Indiana University, have also done the same, finding safety in numbers after reported clown sightings.
However, many of the sightings have been dismissed by police or campus security as hoaxes.
Police in the UK are facing a deluge of reports involving clowns, and the Metropolitan police have warned the pranksters that they could be fined for public order offences.
On Saturday, 19-year-old Kenny Ojuederie, a student of Brunel University in west London, was arrested after he was found chasing people across campus dressed as a chainsaw-wielding clown.
Ojuederie has since issued an apology, explaining that the people he was chasing were his friends, and that it was all done for a prank video.
“First of all I want to say a massive sorry to anyone I have scared. Secondly, this was a YouTube video. All those people in the video, they were my friends,” he said.
“It was a pre-planned thing, and none of the people who I chased were strangers.”
Clown at Brunel University with a chainsaw pic.twitter.com/2LBTJJYWgd
— alex (@AlexMartin_1) October 8, 2016
A student cycling through campus at the University of Kent on Sunday night encountered a car full of ‘killer’ clowns, which chased after him and shouted abuse.
At the University of Auckland in New Zealand, a student recently posted a video of clowns lurking around the university’s library to the “Overheard @ University of Auckland” Facebook group, which has seen over 600 reactions and 200 comments.
The pandemic began in late August in Greenville County, South Carolina, which experienced a rash of reports claiming that people dressed up as clowns were attempting to lure children into the woods.
While many professional clowns have condemned the mischief-makers, saying the craze is giving them a bad name, the heightened interest in clowns does have its benefits for some: Holly Stoppit, who makes a living from training people in the clown arts, says her workshops “are in more demand now than ever”.
But Stoppit, who also conducts an academic module for students at Bath Spa University, told the Bath Chronicle: “It takes a lot to be a professional clown. You have to train, it’s a serious art. Some people take years to perfect it.”
“This current situation – they are not clowns. They are just people wearing costumes for whatever reason, maybe for the publicity or for fun, or they like the attention,” she added.
With Halloween fast approaching, we recommend that you don’t dress up as a clown – unless you want a mob chasing after you.
Image via DmPranksProductions/YouTube
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