The nationally publicized racism controversy at prestigious Oberlin College from last February/March may have been a hoax perpetrated by two white male students who were “trolling” or pranking the progressive campus.
The duo, one of whom was an Obama for President organizer, who allegedly were the “principal architects” of the month-long fake hate spree evidently no longer attend Oberlin.
The New York Times describes Oberlin as being known for “ardent liberalism” and “academic excellence.”
You may recall that the small liberal arts college in Ohio was thrown into turmoil and near hysteria by racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, and homophobic posters and graffiti to the point where classes were canceled on Monday, March 4, for campus-wide teach-in after someone was spotted wearing a white robe and hood.
Actress Lena Dunham, an Oberlin alum, even weighed in on social media. Dunham tweeted that “this really saddens me. The school I remember was the safest place to do you.” Another tweet stated that “Hey Obies, remember the beautiful, inclusive and downright revolutionary history of the place you call home. Protect each other.”
An investigation by The Daily Caller indicates, however, that the two male students that were allegedly behind the hate-crime incidents were distributing the racist paraphernalia across campus as a “joke” or a “troll.”
Campus police apparently caught them on February 27 in the act; one of them tried to explain it away by claiming he was only doing it because the campus was overreacting to other racial postings that they had nothing to do with. The Daily Caller obtained the police reports under a Freedom of Information Act request.
Gawker also gained access to police reports and noted that “signs and graffiti were part of a strange, month-long racist hoax perpetrated by Oberlin students” who were trying to “get a rise out of their liberal peers.”
The person with the KKK outfit may have been just a female student wearing a blanket according to a campus police officer.
According to Cornell law professor William Jacobson of the Legal Insurrection website, “… Oberlin has some explaining to do because the administration was fully aware at the time in February and early March 2013 that this was a hoax, yet it never informed the student body of that fact… How do we know the Oberlin administration was aware of the hoax? Because the police report shows that on February 27, 2013, Marjorie Burton, Director of Safety and Security at Oberlin informed the Oberlin town police that two students had been identified based on eyewitness statements and surveillance video.”
Oberlin College has not acknowledged that any hoax was involved in the racist hate speech incident last semester. In a statement released last week “regarding the motives of the alleged perpetrators,” the college insisted that “These actions were real. The fear and disruption they caused in our community were real. We will not tolerate acts of hatred and threats of violence regardless of motivation.”
In a somewhat similar incident, a high-schooler who received racist text messages warning him against running for student government apparently sent the offensive message to himself, according to a school official and police.