FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- A clown sighting was reported on Fairfield University's campus Monday night but was later determined to be a prank, according to the Department of Public Safety.
The Fairfield University Department of Public Safety said it received calls from students reporting the sighting of clowns on campus, the department said in a Facebook post Tuesday. The incidents were later confirmed as a prank and the individual involved has been identified.
"As a reminder, anyone dressed as a clown (mask or full costume) will be subject to disciplinary sanctions through the Dean of Students and may be held in violation of state law if they do so for the purpose of causing alarm or intimidation, which includes pranking friends," the Department of Public Safety wrote.
The incident is the latest in a nationwide trend of clown sightings that have received media attention since August. The sightings appear to have begun in South Carolina in mid-August, where parents reported that "scary clowns" had tried to lure children into the woods, according to media reports.
Since then, there have been reports of clown sightings in more than 30 states across the country. Several people have been arrested for dressing like clowns as a prank, while others have been charged with falsely reporting sightings. Some people have also been charged with posting threatening messages on social media, saying that they would dress as clowns and commit acts of violence, according to media reports.
"Fairfield University takes this matter very seriously, particularly given everything occurring in the news. Creating fear and anxiety in others, even if in fun, will not be tolerated," the Fairfield University Department of Public Safety said.
Sacred Heart University Dean of Students Larry Wielk issued a statement Tuesday saying that there had been rumors of sightings of costumed clowns on campus, as well as rumors of residence halls being on lockdown, but that these were just rumors.
"At this time, after investigations by the Department of Public Safety and local police, these reports and rumors have proven to be unfounded. There has been no indication of any costumed clowns on campus, nor has any part of the SHU campus been on lockdown," Wielk said.
Wielk added that the university takes these matters seriously, and issued a similar warning that people should not dress as clowns in order to scare others. Students would be subject to disciplinary sanctions by the school and possible violation of state laws, and non-Sacred Heart community members would face trespass charges and turned over to local authorities.
"Sacred Heart University takes matters of personal safety and intimidation of our community very seriously—even more so in light of the heightened awareness of this matter nationwide. This type of behavior will not be tolerated and will be dealt with in the best interests of our University community," Wielk said.
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