Samuel Northrup, Staff Writer
Nationwide sightings and complaints of individuals dressed as clowns have made their way to Utica. Last Thursday, police apprehended a suspect dressed as a clown and carrying a baseball bat in Proctor Park, according to a campus-wide safety email.
Following a report earlier in the night of two individuals dressed as clowns carrying what appeared to be a baseball bat and a machete in Addison Miller Park, Utica College officials were notified by the Utica Police Department dispatch of a possible sighting of clowns near the sports dome on campus.
UC’s Campus Safety department quickly responded with a search of the campus, focusing on the area surrounding the dome. Director of Campus Security Wayne Sullivan stated that no clowns or suspicious activity were found.
“We had no clowns on campus,” Sullivan said. “We got a call from dispatch saying that there was a report that there were clowns near our dome at about 11 a.m. Thursday morning, and our officers responded immediately. There was nothing happening, nothing going on. That’s where the clowns were spotted. We had no actual reports of sighting any clowns on our property.”
No clowns were found at UC, but Campus Safety increased patrols and is taking additional precautions that will remain in effect as needed, as stated through the campus safety email.
While those dressing up as clowns and carrying weapons may see their actions as humorous, others are not so amused.
When asked about clown sightings, freshman Philip Cruz- Rodriguez dismissed these actions as being another social trend that will fade out.
“It’s just a phase I think,” Cruz- Rodriguez said. “It’s one of those things, it starts up, people get scared and then it’s going to pass through.”
While unimpressed by these acts, students are also concerned about the clown-related reports in the area.
For junior Marissa Hajec, these sightings pose a serious safety risk, especially with Halloween approaching.
“In a couple weeks, people are going to be dressing and going out on the weekend,” Hajec said. “You’re going to see everyone in a costume so you don’t know if someone’s actually trying to hurt people or they’re just dressing up for fun.”
Hajec’s concerns are justifiable, as costumes with masks can hide a person’s identity and make it difficult for security to identify an individual.
These concerns are understood by Sullivan and Campus Safety, as students are not allowed to wear masks or cover their faces in any way so that security can identify them.
“If there’s any functions on campus, which usually there are some Halloween gatherings, it is not allowed that anyone wears a costume where we can’t identify who they are,” Sullivan said. “They can’t cover their face. For any social function on campus we have to know, because we want to keep it to Utica College students.”
While additional security measures are being taken, students can also call contact Campus Security at 315-792-3046, or 611 if on school grounds, to report any suspicious individuals or activities. Campus Security also offers escorts to any building on campus.
There is still no clear motivation for individuals that dress up as clowns, however, it is certain that these actions are causing public disturbances and safety concerns.