Peak campus hysteria–or not yet?
"On Monday, students at Indiana University Bloomington mistook a priest for a Ku Klux Klan member, taking to social media to express their fear of the alleged Klansman, who they claimed was carrying a whip, and dressed in 'white robes.'
"Rumors of a Klansman on campus were extinguished after it was pointed out that the passerby was actually a priest innocently making his way through Bloomington, Indiana. When sighted on campus, students thought his white robes indicated an affiliation with the KKK."
A favorite panicked tweet was this one:
"iu students, be careful, there's someone walking around in kkk gear with a whip."
Love the "whip"! It's the Da Vinci Code effect!
Then, Ethan Gill, a dorm RA at Indiana U., got into the act, issuing this dire e-mail warning:
"There has been a person reported walking around campus in a KKK outfit holding a whip. Because the person is protected under first amendment rights, IUPD cannot remove this person from campus unless an act of violence is committed. Please PLEASE PLEASE be careful out there tonight, always be with someone and if you have no dire reason to be out of the building, I would recommend staying indoors if you’re alone.”
Ooops! Soon enough, according to the Independent Journal, the "Klansman" was spotted at a campus eatery ordering a frozen custard for himself. His white "Klan robe" turned out to be the religious habit of the Dominicans, a Catholic order of friars whose members wear long white robes and black belts. His "whip" turned out to be a rosary.
So Gill issued a red-faced second e-mail with a correction. But he added this:
"Now, I get it why a person would be scared. There in fact HAVE been klansmembers [sic] on the campus spurting hate speech, but never have they been reported with a weapon. So yeah, if it was in fact a weapon and a threat, it’s a good thing to warn a friend."
Right, like the "Klansman" spotted on the Oberlin College campus in 2013 who turned out to be a woman wrapped in a blanket. In that UFO-like sighting, the entire Oberlin campus shut down.
But just to be helpful, the Dominican order has issued a tweet with photos designed to help confused college students tell the difference in the future between a white-robed Dominican friar and a Klansman, a man in a spa bathrobe, and Princess Leia.