NASHVILLE, TN – At the end of today’s business day, Chancellor Zeppos is scheduled to issue a university-wide state of emergency after numerous clown sightings were reported by students and staff last night. The University has mandated a 9 p.m. curfew for all students, suspending extracurricular activities and meetings that extend beyond 8:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Vanderbilt’s strict security measures have come under strong criticism from the student body. Freshman Riley Wilson has claimed that these regulations are “in blatant violation of his freedom” and his “unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness” as the the suspension of activities will prevent him from attending a Towers pregame this weekend. Wilson, in conjunction with a coalition of thirty-four other members of the student body, has since launched a lawsuit against Zeppos’ security policies.
Chancellor Zeppos maintained the need for such security measures as his “first priority as University Chancellor is to ensure the safety of the students and staff of Vanderbilt University.” At 1 p.m. today he established more drastic measures, as clown sightings have continued, by gaining permission from the Nashville City Council to suspend the writ of habeas corpus to allow Vanderbilt Police to search students’ dorms without cause and apprehend “suspicious individuals.”
The police have issued a press release, recommending that students travel in groups and call Vanderbilt University Police at (615) 322-7311 if they see any clowns. Following an incident in which one intoxicated student, who was mistaken for a clown due to his disheveled appearance, was attacked by a group of equally drunk students, VUPD warns against student-led vigilantism against clowns on campus. “Unprovoked acts of aggressions toward any individual on campus will result in swift and appropriate consequences,” stated VUPD’s campus wide email.
Since the sightings, which ranged from Alumni Hall to Peabody Lawn, requests for campus escorts through VUPD and use of Vandy Vans have skyrocketed. Concern over the clowns has extended beyond campus. While most parents have booked new flights for their children to return home early for the semester, some have gone as far as to withdraw their students from Vanderbilt University. “I’ve told my sweet Sammy to always travel in groups of four or more. I used to say three but I heard that those pesky clowns have been spotted with some weapons so four should be good enough,” said Margot Williamson, mother of a freshman on Hank 6. Chancellor Zeppos instructed professors and employees in a campus wide email to show initiative and ensure the security policies are upheld. The email called for faculty to “band together and hunt down” the clowns.