Advocacy groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center make headlines by claiming that hate crimes have surged since Trump’s election, but the real surge is in hate-crime hoaxes, especially among university students. The day after the 2016 election, Eleesha Long, a student at Bowling Green State University—about 90 miles west of Oberlin—said that she was attacked by white Trump supporters, who threw rocks at her. Police concluded that she had fabricated the story. That same day, Kathy Mirah Tu, a University of Minnesota student, claimed in a viral social-media post that she was detained by police after fighting a racist man who had attacked her. Campus and local police said that they had had no contact with her. And again that day, a Muslim student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette made up a story about being attacked and robbed by Trump supporters, who supposedly ripped off her hijab. For weeks after Trump’s election, America was fed a series of outrageous stories of campus race hatred that fell apart upon examination.
This trend of student hate-crime hoaxes has continued. In May 2017, St. Olaf College in Minnesota was roiled in mass “anti-racism” protests that caused classes to be cancelled. Samantha Wells, a black student activist, was found to be responsible for a racist threat she left on her own car. In September of that year, five black students at the U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School found racial slurs written on their doors. An investigation later found that one of the students targeted was responsible for the vandalism.