The Magazine

The Campus Hoax Culture

Apr 15, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 29 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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It's become a collegiate tradition as venerable as all-nighters, hacky sack on the quad, and toga parties: the consciousness-raising campus rape hoax. And so it wasn’t particularly surprising when, early last month, it was revealed that a 20-year-old woman named Morgan Triplett, who claimed she had been sexually assaulted at UC Santa Cruz in February, had in fact fabricated the charge. 

Morgan Triplett

Morgan Triplett

Nor was it anything out of the ordinary when—even after they learned it was a hoax via a campus-wide email from the school president—Santa Cruz students nonetheless marched en masse decrying their university’s alleged “rape culture.” It was also par for the course when one of the marchers, while acknowledging that the alleged rape had never occurred, lamented, “I feel people really rallied against rape after [the assault was reported], and then I felt that the administration was really dismissive in the email they sent out to the student body.” (How dare the administration dismiss something that never happened!) And The Scrapbook can’t say it was surprised when it read in the Santa Cruz Sentinel that another of the marchers was a 44-year-old undergraduate feminist studies major. Same old, same old.

And yet, this particular hoax was more ambitious than usual, in that it involved advertising for a perpetrator, instead of simply imagining one. Last week, we learned that Triplett had placed two ads on Craigslist the day before she reported the rape. According to local news station KSBW, “In one ad, Triplett offered to have sex with anyone who would shoot her in the shoulder with a small caliber bullet.” Apparently even sadists have their limits—that ad drew no responses. KSBW continued, “The college student posted a second Craigslist ad asking someone to ‘punch, kick and bruise her,’ and promised she would not file any charges against the person. Several people responded to the second Craigslist ad agreeing to go along with Triplett’s plan. A man met Triplett at UC Santa Cruz, beat her up, and the two had sex.” 

Triplett then reported the “assault” and now faces up to six months in jail for the false accusation. Given the unique horror of rape—and the congruent horror of faking one—a little judicially imposed time for reflection might not be a bad idea.

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