By: Morgan Webb, Staff writer
Fall is usually a time for pumpkin carving, movie watching and Halloween, but this year, it included a new safety concern for the students and faculty at Lebanon Valley College.
This season, there have been reports nationwide of people putting on clown masks and causing havoc across college campuses. From actions as juvenile as pranks and jokes to crimes as serious as robbery and rape, the country became instantly concerned when clown sightings began to spread.
Because of the small size of LVC and the quiet nature of Annville, crime of this kind is not often a concern to the College or its residents. However, when there were reports of clowns being spotted on campus, many students began to worry about the severity of the situation and the danger associated with the clowns.
“Yes, I did see a clown,” Bryce Betz, a senior biology major, said. “I was out for a run on the athletic side of campus, and while I passed the cemetery there was a person in a clown mask simply standing there, not moving, and just watching as cars passed. It was pretty creepy and what ensued was the fastest I’ve ran in a long time. I wasn’t sticking around long enough to find out much more.”
While the encounter may have been unsettling, Betz said the clown did not seem to be posing a major threat and likely isn’t something the campus needs to worry about in the future.
Public Safety was quick to address the issue and respond to any reports of clowns in the area.
“There were reports of people 10-12 years of age riding bikes with [clown] masks on,” Brent Oberholtzer, LVC’s Director of Public Safety, said. “They were stopped in the back alley near Neidig-Garber and their pictures were taken. The police department was notified. We believe they were just copycats of what was being seen in the news, and no serious damage was involved.”
Oberholtzer says that it has been more than a month since the last clown report and does not think future sightings are likely to occur. However, he continues to urge students to practice safe habits as they navigate the campus.
“People at night should walk with a friend and always have 911 and the Public Safety phone number programmed into their phones,” Oberholtzer said. “If anyone should be concerned, they should contact Public Safety if they are on campus, and local law enforcement if they are off campus.”
Many students were concerned with how the clown sightings would affect Halloween activities and costume choice when it came time to celebrate the holiday. While clown costumes are usually a popular choice, few students thought they were a good idea for fear of causing additional trouble.
Despite some uneasiness among the students, Betz claims that Halloween was still a success.
“I feel like everyone got really creative [on Halloween] and were able to come up with some great costumes, regardless of what happened,” Betz said.
Although no recent clown sightings have occurred, students are still encouraged to report any unusual activity to Public Safety.