Clowning Around: UNH Police Chief Paul Dean sets record straight after campus “creepy clown” rumors spread

Bret Belden

On Monday night, social media and campus boomed with rumors of a person wearing a clown costume. Because of previous nationwide events involving armed clowns, the community began to express their discomfort with the possibility of danger.
“There was no lock down, there was no clown with a gun, the campus is safe. There is no reason to believe there is anything more than just a prank and the police, we are going to be more vigilant at night, but it is not against the law to walk down the street with a clown mask. We can stop and talk to them, but that is about it.”
The trend of clowns on campus has been sweeping the nation over the course of the past few weeks. The same day, Merrimack College in North Andover Massachusetts sent a “shelter in place alert” to students because of a alleged armed clown sighting. A dorm at Merrimack was also evacuated at this time, but nothing suspicious was found.
“It looks like this is happening all across the country on college campuses. It’s clear that there seems to be a prank that is taking place,” Dean said. “Quite frankly college campus pranks happen and that is not out of the ordinary. We are in the month of Halloween and I’m sure we will see plenty of clown masks towards the end of the month.”
Chief Dean also noted that UNH police would have sent out an alert if they felt students were in any danger. The rumors of Stoke Hall evacuating because of the clown are false. Students were evacuated for a pepper spray mishap. Additionally, there are no current plans to ban clown costumes from campus.
“I would become more concerned if someone was committing a crime with a clown mask on. If somebody had assaulted somebody wearing a clown mask,” Dean said. “We would be talking about an entirely different course of action.”