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.