It has been a little over two years since the hate-crime in Prospect house, and our student body has not been informed of the results of the investigation or been given a timeline as to when we should expect some answers.
In the aftermath of the incident students were ushered into “safe-spaces”, classes were suspended, and the entire community went into shock (the less said about the social-honor code idea the better). The President, the deans, many faculty members, and fellow students rushed to the aid of those who felt themselves to be under threat. While this response was admirable, it is important to push one salient observation: no one inquired into the possibility of the entire thing being a hoax.
I will not delve into the specifics of the crime due to legal concerns, but I will state a fact: there exists a common idea among the student body that the “hate-crime” was perpetrated by a minority student with ulterior motives.
At what point during our campus discussions following the event was such a possibility entertained: that a minority student had perpetrated the act, specifically in order to bring attention to minority-issues on campus and obtain benefits for their identity-group? Given the reactions of sympathy, attention, rev-evaluation and concession we observed it must be obvious that an incentive scheme exists for unscrupulous students to mimic genuine hate-crimes for their own gain, or merely to cause trouble.
Of course such hoaxes are not an unknown phenomenon. In fact, one was perpetrated at Williams College in 1993, and many more have occurred at colleges and universities nationwide:
Trinity International University (2005)
George Washington University (2007)
University of Virginia (2007)
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2011)
Central Connecticut State University (2012)
University of Wisconsin at Parkside (2012)
Montclair State University (2012)
Vassar College (2013)
Given this history, my fear- which I would be happy to see allayed- is that we have been tricked as a school by the unfortunate coming together of an unscrupulous criminal and a gullible, reactionary administration.
I will end with a relevant quote from an article, “Staged emergencies: How Colleges React to Bias Incidents” by Ashley Thorne.
“When social justice becomes the chief focus of a university, its administrators immerse the campus in performance and lose sight of reality. Public accountability can help them regain it.”