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Another alleged racist hoax strikes again

A routine feature of campus life

Syracuse University was thrown into turmoil this week when students reported receiving a racist manifesto on their phones. The incident came soon after what was apparently a legitimate instance of campus racism, one in which several students verbally assaulted a young black female student on campus, reportedly with racist language. Those students have since been suspended; the fraternity to which they belonged has been put on suspension as well, as have all fraternities at the school.

Truly racist incidents on campus seem to be rare, but they do happen, as was apparently the case here. Rather than attempt to move on from it, however, some students apparently took advantage of the heightened tension on campus: The school’s chancellor said on Wednesday that a white supremacist manifesto students allegedly received on their telephones was “probably a hoax.” Authorities had not yet located a single person who directly received the document, even though many claimed to have been personally sent it over the Internet.

Such is life on a modern college campus: The primary currency by which most campuses operate today is victimhood, in which one’s status is tied directly to how comprehensively one has been attacked. This will naturally lead to manufactured hate crime incidents.  Why this has taken so deep and relentless a hold in higher education is not at all clear, though at this point it may very well be self-reinforcing: Students want to be victims, most administrations want to encourage them to feel victimized, and the cycle feeds itself like a snake eating its own tail.

Syracuse’s chancellor deserves credit for so swiftly and openly debunking this latest hoax. It’s not easy being the leader of a college today: Very often they are simultaneously vilified and supplicated, treated as evil enablers of an unjust system who also need to rock their students to sleep every night lest someone feels “unsafe.” It would be wise for other chancellors, presidents and provosts to follow his lead: When you discover a hoax, publicize it immediately. Schools should consider sanctioning the students who perpetrate these frauds, as well—they often throw the campus into turmoil and result in expensive, time-consuming social and logistical headaches. Of course, that’s the whole point.

MORE: How to tell a campus hoax crime from the real thing?

IMAGE: Christian Horz / Shutterstock.com

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