No Clowning Around: Taking Action Into Our Own Hands

In a Madison Alert message (part of the notification system used to share timely safety information with the JMU community during urgent or emergency situations) sent on October 4, 2016, there was an announcement regarding the actions taken by students against a perceived threat, this threat being “creepy clown” sightings. The news of these supposed sightings spread like wildfire across many forms of social media. While there was no evidence to support this rumor, many went beyond just transmitting this news and took action themselves.

Students ran rampant on a dark JMU campus, forming a giant hunting party to search for the clowns and arming themselves with baseball bats, pepper spray, and other objects for “self-defense.” While mob mentality can have a very powerful effect on group behavior, these students still voluntarily responded in this aggressive manner. How does this reflect those students’ character? Does it make them noble and brave…or foolish and impulsive? Rather than behaving like the enlightened citizens JMU encourages all students to be, the actions of these Dukes was irrational and potentially dangerous.
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Is It a Right to Know or Need to Know?

As a teaching assistant and peer advisor, I have seen and heard a wide variety of things during office hours, but nothing could have prepared me for what happened on a seemingly quiet Monday afternoon. As I was studying during advising hours, the sound of loud, frantic running feet rumbled down the hall. While hearing a stampede of footsteps down the hallway isn’t a normal occurrence in a university academic building, my first thought was that it might be a group of students from a local high school going to the planetarium. This assumption was proved wrong shortly thereafter when a campus police officer dashed by and in a whispered tone, ordered us to evacuate the building immediately. Trying to make sense of this, I assumed it must be a drill so I packed up and quickly exited the back entrance of the building. To my surprise, there was a crowd of concerned faces waiting across the street, staring back at me when I opened the door. Waiting and watching attentively, we all were desperate to know what was going on in order to assess the possible danger for ourselves.

Without any explanation, the police officers came out of the building fifteen minutes later and told us we could go back inside. The only answer we received as to why we were evacuated in the first place was, “It was a false alarm, and it could have been anything.”


…What could have?!

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Popping the JMU Bubble

As a JMU First Year Orientation Guide, I had the privilege to hear and experience the perspectives of many people during 1787 August Orientation. From the parents, incoming students, Resident Advisors, professional Orientation staff members, returning students, the Harrisonburg community to everyone in between, it was intriguing to observe the mixture of feelings associated with James Madison University and what it means to be a Duke. One idea that was frequently brought up was the idea of there being a “JMU bubble.” While students may visit the downtown and surrounding areas of Harrisonburg to occasionally support our local businesses, there are some who believe there is a disconnect between the ’burg and JMU. Continue reading

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Ensuring JMU’s Student Organizations Are Safe Places

While attending a Student Organization Night training session, I thought it was going to mostly be a review of the logistics of the night itself. Org. Night promised to be an evening where people could connect with both new and old groups, all in the hopes of finding their niche and making new friends. Especially when JMU provides events that promote building social connections like the post-student org night event, “Dukes After Dark”. It was to be quite literally “lit” with glow sticks, light-brites, glow-in-the-dark corn hole and more. Continue reading

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An Ethical Educator

As students, faculty, and staff of JMU, we understand what an important role education plays in changing people’s lives for the better. Our professors work hard to enlighten and prepare students to become engaged citizens, while students work hard to retain knowledge and realize their full potential. Continue reading

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