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BYU's 'Cloak Boy' — Student surprised by support after some objections to his folk singing

Published: Wednesday, March 26 2008 12:14 a.m. MDT

BYU student Nathan Langford talks about his former habit of singing outside the Joseph Smith Building on campus.

Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News

PROVO — Bundled up in a hobbit-inspired cloak singing folk songs between classes, Nathan Langford was pretty used to getting attention from his fellow students at Brigham Young University.

"I got a lot of comments like, 'Hey, Frodo,' or 'Hey, Harry Potter,"' said Langford, a 19-year-old mathematics major from Wisconsin. "You sort of get used to it if you're singing and wearing a cloak."

But for the past few weeks, ever since BYU police threatened to cite Langford for disturbing the peace with his exuberant caroling, people greet him with a familiar "Hey, Nathan," or stop him on the sidewalk to tell him, "We support you, Cloak Boy."

Now that, said the self-proclaimed "fantasy geek," was a little more unexpected.

Langford, who said he sang to occupy himself between classes, was even more surprised by the number of students who rallied behind him after he wrote a letter to the student newspaper to tell his story. Singing, he said, was within his rights as a student.

Within a week of the incident, more than 800 people joined a "Revive Cloak Boy" Facebook group dedicated to restoring Langford's right to sing. Several students designed and sold T-shirts that featured Langford as a superhero garbed in a cloak. Some people even gathered on campus to belt out camp songs in front of the Joseph Smith Building — one of Langford's favorite spots to sing between classes — to prove their point.

"I think it's ridiculous that the police even got involved," said Cory Christensen, a 21-year-old junior from Ogden, who helped to design the Cloak Boy T-shirts. "I think if someone has a problem with his singing, they should approach him about it."

People did approach the cloaked student about his singing, Langford said. Most of the feedback he got was positive, though.

Stephanie Lee, a freshman from Alberta, Canada, said she and her friends looked forward to watching Langford sing after their Tuesday and Thursday economics class.

"It's cool that he sings," Lee said. "I say more power to him."

Officers confronted Langford in response to several reports of suspicious activity, said BYU Police Lt. Arnold Lemmon. Callers were concerned about the singer's mental health.

"In today's world, we can't just blow off people saying there's something going on here," he said. "For us the bottom line was his peers were concerned about his behavior."

Lemmon said Langford is free to sing whenever he pleases, as long as he does not disturb any classes or anyone trying to study.

Langford won't be belting out any carols on campus anytime soon, however. He's been spooked.

"Yeah, hello," he said. "Like going against authority really isn't my thing."


E-mail: estuart@desnews.com

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