The South Jersey creepy clown phenomena has been creating a hysteria recently which has made its way into several high schools around the Glassboro area and onto the Rowan University campus.
Charges for cyber harassment are being filed against several high school students from Washington Township and Deptford for posting clown-related threats online. All of these turned out to be pranks, and police stated that no one was in real danger.
Despite the lack of actual threat, measures were taken to ensure the safety of students in threatened schools. Jody Rettig, the Glassboro district’s public relations representative, said that the Glassboro police increased patrols of the borough’s schools.
“Some students have expressed a degree of nervousness,” she said. “Guidance counselors are available to meet with students.”
Lt. Craig Shute of the Rowan Police Department added that there were no clowns on campus to be concerned about, just “a student dressed up as a friendly clown on Meditation Walk.” All other sightings were unfounded, he said.
The friendly clown mentioned by Shute was senior biological science major Sha Syed, who runs a YouTube channel where he posts skits and pranks. He decided to capitalize on the clown scares and turn it into a funny experience for students.
“The whole idea was to do a skit about this guy named Gustavo the clown that isn’t scary anymore,” Syed said. “So now he goes back to college to make friends and find a job.”
Syed’s “Gustavo” held a sign inviting Rowan students to come and take pictures with him. Although he posed no harm, he was questioned by Rowan police to be sure there was no danger.
A popular theory concerning the emergence of clown sightings attributes the cause to viral marketing for the upcoming “It” film reboot. Sophomore English major Chris Grillo was doubtful of this theory.
“The film isn’t supposed to hit theaters until September 2017,” he pointed out. “Audiences are likely to have moved on from this weird phenomenon by then.”
While these events have unnerved some, junior biology major Madeline Doyle found humor in the situation.
“I haven’t personally seen a clown on campus, but I’ve studied way too much and worked way too hard to be taken out by a clown,” Doyle said.
Although the exact origins of this craze are difficult to determine, Shute was sure of one thing:
“The No. 1 costume for Halloween this year will definitely be a clown,” he said.
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