Why Do College Students Keep Making False Reports?

This May, the University of Albany announced that a Student Conduct Board had expelled two students and suspended another for lying about a hate crime.

Three young black women claimed that they were attacked by a group of 12 to 20 people during a midnight bus right. Immediately after stepping off the bus, the women called the police and claimed they were physically attacked by a group of white men shouting racial slurs. The incident caused a national uproar, a police investigation, and a solidarity rally on campus, in which one of the alleged victims tearfully spoke about the painful experience.

In reality, the police investigation revealed none of what the women said was true and that they were the aggressors in the fight. The school’s disciplinary action follows misdemeanor criminal charges for assault, attempted assault, and false reporting.

“Did it occur to you that you weren’t a woman of one (or three, since Ariel Agudio and Alexis Briggs are part of this, too) crying wolf, but rather your actions, your decisions, your choices will make people — the public, and otherwise — think many who come after you with their own legitimate, fair, honest claims of assault are also lying?” wrote Kristi Barlette in an open letter to one of the women in Albany newspaper The Times Union.

Unfortunately, the University of Albany hate crime hoax is just one of many similar incidents that have occurred at colleges across the country. At a time when the college culture wars are obsessed with safe spaces, microaggressions, and trigger warnings, many conservative critics say these incidents are indicative of a culture of victimhood and hair-trigger offense seeking.

Of course, college students have always made dumb, alcohol-fueled mistakes. At another college in upstate New York, Syracuse University, students have misused the campus’s Blue Light Alarm System so often that the number of false reports is approaching 10,000.

A typical false alarm requires two police officers and 20 minutes to investigate; meanwhile, security experts estimate that 94 to 98% of all alarm activations are false. Even so, Syracuse University says that out of more than 10,000 alarm activations, fewer than 12 involved a student who needed assistance, and only one solitary case involved an actual emergency.

In April, another young woman pleaded guilty to falsely reporting a hate crime at Kean University. The young activist invented death threats and a shooting hoax to drum up interest in a rally she was hosting.

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