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Rumored clown threats spread at Philly area colleges

Authorities at Temple and Villanova are monitoring the matter.

At left, the photo from a Villanova student's Snapchat. The image on the right is

Clown mania made its way into Philadelphia recently, after threats were launched against the city school district last weekend. But college students are also on edge, as reports have surfaced of sightings atVillanova andTemple universities.

The validity of those claims, however, is disputed.

A student at Villanova claimed to have captured photo evidence of a clown near the university's Katharine Hall Monday night, according to the freshman'sSnapchatstory, The Tab reported.

The clown, with a white face, red curly hair and a yellow shirt, was allegedly spotted at night when the freshman student snapped the photo. The photo was captioned "clown outside st mos!!!!" "St. Mos" is a colloquialismfor St. Monica Hall, a twin building next to Katharine Hall. Both are student residences on the university's South Campus. The photo also included a "K-TOWN Katharine Hall" Snapchat filter.

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Representatives at the university, however, tracked down the original photo to a 2014 New York Daily News report of clown-related crimes in parts of England.

"Public Safety did receive several reports [of clowns on campus], but all information came from social media or word of mouth," spokesman for the university Jonathan Gust said. "Regardless, Public Safety was dispatched to South Campus to patrol the area, but they did not find anything."

Gust said the university will still "take any report seriously, especially when it has to do with the safety of our campus.

Metro reached out to the author of The Tabarticle, who said she received the photo from a friend who had taken it from another friend's Snapchat story.

Metro was unable to verify how the original photo came to be on the unidentified student's Snapchat story, but a recent update to the app now permits users to share photos from their camera roll to their followers and access the app's photo editing tools, a function that was not previously possible.

The Tab is an online news organization with sub-sites for various college campuses in the U.S., U.K. and Canada. It bills itself as "a platform forthe most talented young journalists to report and write, professionally and independently."

Per its website: We are a new kind of news network – a bottom-up organization that favors originality over rehashed content, reporting over lists, and realizes that newspapers and TV networks suck so much at reporting on young people that young people now deserve to do it themselves.

Since the story on The Tabran Tuesday morning, it's received more than 3,000 views. It's the only source citing reports of clowns on the Main Line university's campus. Still, students have tweeted about the report.

Meanwhile, Temple University is also dealing with potentially false reports of clown sightings. Temple's Tab page indicated clowns have been spotted near dormitories and a dining hall, as well as near 13thand Diamond streets.

A freshman claimed to have seen a clown near the university's main campus at 15th and Market streets while in the car with her dad, and also tweeted about other clowns on main campus. However, her Twitter is set to private. A screenshot of another tweet from a Temple student said, "patiently waiting to see the first clown TU Alert notification." That tweet has since been deleted.

Commenting on the matter, a universityspokesperson said, "Temple Police have looked into the reports and have found no credible threat. Students should call Temple Police at 215-204-1234 if they see any suspicious activity."

False reports of clown sightings are no laughing matter.

The New York Times reported last month that hoaxes, including false reports or threatsresulted in 12 arrests in multiple states. Other cases stem from "children with overactive imaginations, teenagers pulling pranks and others with their own reasons for adding to the hysteria," the Times wrote.

In September,a Pennsylvania teenager was stabbedin an incident authorities believe stemmed from a clown hoax.

 
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