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College Students Are Now Forming Mobs to Hunt Made-Up Clowns

There are not a bunch of criminal clowns running around your campus. Really. Colleges across the country, most notably Penn State, have started experiencing the clown epidemic that started in South Carolina and has spread to at least 20 states—But police are reassuring everyone that these clowns are not a problem, and please, stop reporting them and trying to hunt them down, because they’re not really there.

At Penn State, students actually formed a mob when clowns were allegedly sighted, according to the school’s paper, the Daily Collegian. But while news of the clown spread rapidly through Yik Yak and other social media, and somewhere between 500 and 1,000 students joined the fray, nobody could prove that the clown had really been there.

“Several people are saying they have seen clowns, but nobody has actually confirmed they have seen a clown,” the official told CBS News.

Inside Higher Ed reported clown sightings at 13 colleges, including University of Connecticut, University of Massachusetts, Syracuse and Belmont University. Belmont students hunted for a clown on campus with golf clubs. Merrimack College even went on lockdown for an hour due to reports of an armed clown.

Guess what? There was not a dangerous clown found at a single one of these schools.

The NYPD’s chief of intellegence and counterterrorism has even gotten in on this, confirming a lack of evidence supporting the clown phenomenon at a recent crime briefing, Politico reports. 

“So far, we’ve found none credible,” John Miller, the chief, said. “The NYPD is not devoting additional manpower or resources to the areas of clown threats and sightings. We’ve had a couple of incidents in Long Island. Needless to say, we’re tracking it, but we don’t see a threat here. And I guess our main message is, don’t believe the hype and don’t be afraid of the clowns.” 

“The increase in creepy clown sightings is dangerous. It causes panic & alarm. Please don’t take part in this,” NYPD’s 109th Precinct in Flushing tweeted on Sunday.

It’s true that you can’t blame people for being freaked out. ‘IT’, “Killer Clown” John Wayne Gracy, Ronald McDonald…clowns are creepy AF. But listen to what the police are saying—that the danger comes from people working themselves into a frenzy because of rumors and false reports. There is literally no danger from actual clowns. It’s one thing to be scared, but it’s another to drum up needless hysteria and refuse to think critically. And if you’re one of the people that started a clown hoax on purpose—well, then you just suck.

Regardless of whether or not the clown sightings are real, it’s a good reminder to be aware of your surroundings and travel in groups whenever possible.

Be safe out there, and don’t spread clown rumors!

Sarah is a senior journalism student at the University of Texas at Austin. She hopes to pursue a career in political journalism after graduation. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys cooking delicious food, spending time with friends, and playing with her adorable dog, Theodore. 
Katherine Mirani is the News Editor for Her Campus. She graduated from Northwestern University's journalism school in 2015. Before joining Her Campus full time, she worked on investigative stories for Medill Watchdog and the Scripps News Washington Bureau. When not obsessing over journalism, Katherine enjoys pasta, ridiculous action movies, #longreads, and her cockatiel, Oreo.