Hate Crime Hoaxes Present Burdens, Lessons for College Campuses

Allie Grasgreen, Inside Higher Ed, July 31, 2012

When threatening notes that targeted minority students started showing up around the Trinity International University campus in 2005, administrators spoke to the campus and conferred with police before ultimately evacuating all students of color from their residence halls. The Federal Bureau of Investigation came in to look into the apparent hate crime, and arrested a suspect in less than a week.

The whole thing was fake.


Rarely are apparent hate crimes uncovered as hoaxes, but those sorts of incidents have been popping up on campuses for years and are still a difficult phenomenon to address.


Several institutions that bore witness to hoaxes declined to comment on their response or how the incident affected their campus. But given that standard procedure is to fully investigate any seemingly legitimate allegation of harassment, hoaxes can cause significant drain on money and person power. And there are oft-floated fears that hoaxes negatively affect campus climate and the way people respond (or don’t) to complaints thereafter.

Students who go through with hoaxes tend to do so to meet some personal ends – to get out of school, say, as was the case at Trinity International, or to get some attention from friends or roommates, which motivated the Central Connecticut State student. But many aim to bring social issues to light. That was the case last year at the University of Virginia, when a student falsely claimed campus police harassed him because he was black. After he was discovered, the student said he wanted to draw attention to “the topic of police misconduct.”

But one should not discount these incidents, even if they are set up, some officials say. Regardless of whether a hate crime actually occurred, the fact that a student would feel compelled to fake one points to a whole other set of problems beyond just crisis response.

“As an administrator, those are the kinds of things I’m really sensitive to – what are the students saying – because even if it’s not true, the perception is their reality,” said William L. Howard, assistant vice president of academic services at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. In other words, while a student’s method of calling attention to perceived prejudice may be flawed, that perception of prejudice still exists. “If you say, ‘This is not an issue on my campus,’ and a student has an experience that is counter to that, you have to listen to them.”


At Williams College, however, an unsolved hate crime that occurred last year is still thought by some to have been a hoax perpetrated by a minority student. There, someone wrote “All Niggers Must Die” across a wall inside a campus building, prompting the college to cancel all classes and athletic practices for a day, and students to march in solidarity to attend a speech by the college president, and participate in an open mic session on campus racism and discrimination.

However, Williams investigated every possible lead and piece of information and has “no reason to believe it was a hoax,” spokeswoman Angela P. Schaeffer said. She said the investigation is “still open but not active.”


At Trinity International, there was the obvious hassle of getting all students of color to one “undisclosed location,” said Gary Cantwell, former vice president of communications and marketing at the university. (Cantwell no longer works at Trinity International.) Several of those students missed classes as a result. The whole thing required “massive” amounts of manpower for a couple of weeks.

But it also caused a less tangible problem: an unease among the black students who felt betrayed by the actions of the culprit, who was black and who devised the plan as a way to convince her parents to take her out of school. The students worried that because of what happened, real hate crimes wouldn’t be taken seriously – “the ‘cry wolf’ problem,” as Cantwell put it.

From the students’ perspective, “It seemed to weaken the case for them to say there are still examples of racism that happens in our society,” Cantwell said.


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  • Bibbity

    The administrator makes some good points, what really matters isn’t what’s happening, but what people think is happening. 

  • Francis Galton

    Translation: you can be a total fraud and charlatan, waste HUGE amounts of scarce resources on a wild goose chase, lie to the police, and cause untold hand-wringing, fear, and concern–but that’s perfectly OKAY!  Just make sure the cause is “just” and “right” (but not right-wing, of course!)

    By the way  (for you cretinous SWPL administrators out there), here’s a way to put an end to the vast majority of racial hoaxes once and for all: zero-tolerance, immediate and total expulsion from the university for perpetrating a racial hoax.  Furthermore, make the perpetrator personally PAY for all resources used in the investigation, enforced by wage garnishment.

    This is but one instance of the cultural rot bestowed upon America by cultural Marxism.  It’s unbelievably sick and demented. 

  • What is  being missed here in the liberals  envious and naive mindset is that hate crime hoaxers are motivated by very similar motives to the supposed perpetrators of so called ‘hate crimes’

    The animus and racial motives are the same and the penalties should be the same if not worse.

    The hoaxers are not innocent or confused victims.   They are aggressors.

    Quit being so foolish, media people.  You’re like children.

  • holyflower

    Preoccupation exaggerates importance of racist hoaxes [excerpts]
     Baltimore Sun
    By Steve Chapman
    May 4, 2005


    “The Los Angeles Times reported last year that ‘since 1997, more than 20 such hoaxes have been confirmed or suspected.’ Tawana Brawley inspired a legion of imitators.” 


    “Why do unscrupulous students resort to hoaxes involving racism rather than claim they have been the targets of random street crime or identity theft? Because these students know there is no way to gain so much attention and sympathy.”


    “The one thing they’re absolutely certain of is that to be the victim of hate speech gives you a victim status and all the special consideration that goes with that” says Shelby Steele, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and author of a forthcoming book, White Guilt.”


    “Whites in positions of authority, like those running universities, are vulnerable to such deception, he says, because they are terrified of being labeled hostile to minorities.”

    * * *
    See also 2004 AP report, “Colleges Perfect Milieu for Hate Crimes Hoaxes, ” San Diego Union-Tribune, April 20, 2004: 

  • Guest

    Rarely are apparent hate crimes uncovered as hoaxes,

    I thought most of them turn out to be hoaxes?  Always when I see the report of the latest hate crime, I mentally tag it and expect to see them find out the victim was actually the perpetrator.  I’m rarely wrong about it.  I wish hoax perpetrators were treated as harshly as real perpetrators.

    The triple K group successors know at this point that probably half their members are FBI informants and if they sneeze the wrong way they’ll be woken up the next morning by a SWAT team.  I’m sure Amren itself is closely monitored by some highly-paid law enforcement officer who keeps looking and looking for something actionable.  Nothing to see here!  Amren’s last conference was at a Federal facility even!

    The only hate groups that are giving a free hand are the left-wing groups.  I bet Amren gets a lot more attention than the far more violent and dangerous WSHH.  Busting non-violent whites is so much more fun than having to mess around with real gang members.

  • Church_of_Jed

    Notice how racism is still the culprit, even though Diveristy caused the problem.

    When will the White students demand that all the blacks students sign a petition that pledges them to never seeking a racist Affirmative Action job that discriminates against Whites?

    We mostly fail by failing to seize our White Awake opportunites, which are given to us every day, endlessly…

    • Diversity always causes the problem Jed…..

      • Church_of_Jed

        We are racists for calling “enrichment” by the name “problem”.

        • Ooops…right again Jed! That was my “White privilege” talking again!

  • MekongDelta69

    Inside Higher Ed (for those who may not know) is a left-wing site (aka A Site Of Color to use their idiotic PC phrasing).

  • In other words, racism is out there even when it is not out there. That’s called hedging your bets folks! Racism will never go away because the diversity pimps don’t want it to go away

  • The Worlds Scapegoat
  • Up to my neck in CA

    “Regardless of whether a hate crime actually occurred, the fact that a student would feel compelled to fake one points to a whole other set of problems beyond just crisis response.”

    It’s OK they fake Hate Crimes, because they must have a reason? Liberal double speak at it’s finest!

  • Biff_Maliboo

    Here’s a current LGTBPDQ “hate crime” story in Nebraska that hasn’t fallen apart yet. Multiple attackers, words carved on victim, walls spray-painted, “arson” that caused (according to an earlier version of the story) $200 worth of damage, etc…


    • IstvanIN

       What does this have to do with the story presented above?

  • APaige

    “while a student’s method of calling attention to perceived prejudice may be flawed”-a lie and blaming someone for a fake crime is more than ‘flawed’. It is very strange that real black on white violence gets ignored, but written threats are news worthy-and acceptable if even proven to be false.

  • The__Bobster
  • IKantunderstand

    I would be so happy and excited if these “hate crimes” existed in the numbers that are reported. Sadly, it turns out blacks have even a lesser opinion of their fellow blacks than even delusional liberal whites.

  • humura

    There is racism on campus, institutionalized racism.  It is called affirmative action.  It is a hate crime in denying equal opportunity to better qualified white students.   This is the hate crime committed by the universities with the approval, nay the demand of the federal government.  Perhaps one day we can investigate these crimes, and punish the perpetrators.—–Hugh  Murray

  • LaSantaHermandad

    I’d be surprised if there were one person who posts here who wakes up every day and says. “Gee, now what can I do today to “eff up” a Black’s day”?  I’m very passionate when it comes to all the innocent victims of atrocious Black violence but it would never cross my mind to “even the score’ by selecting the first Black I see on the street and beating him/ her with a hammer, stabbing or shooting them. 
    Basically just leave me and mine alone. 
    They,on the other hand,  do all of the  above and the difference is that very few Whites randomly attack Blacks.

  • Whiteman

    “institutions of higher learning must engage in expensive, time-consuming, public soul-searching in order to root out the “perception” (by blacks) that campuses are hotbeds of antiblack racism”.
    Ah – if white society is concerned with removing the perception (or the reality) that america is filled with anit-black racism, isn’t it then in the interest of blacks to continue to uncover ‘racism’ and even say there is more than before?  Of more interest: Wouldn’t it be in the interest of  individual blacks to actually Believe there is (anti-black racism) everywhere? I sometimes suspect they really believe it. 

  • The Worlds Scapegoat

    It is called “making a false police report.”

    but whites can’t be victims of hate crimes, and minorities can’t be guilty of any crimes.