Over the weekend and into this week, the University of Wyoming has been mired in controversy over an alleged Facebook post that threatened sexual violence against an outspoken liberal student by someone who the post made out to be a conservative male.
According to Wyoming's Star-Tribune, on the non-university affiliated Facebook page UW Crushes, which has since been shut down, a post appeared last week that read:
“I want to hatef--- Meg Lanker- so hard,” the Facebook post said. “That chick that runs her liberal mouth all the time and doesn’t care who knows it. I think its hot and it makes me angry. One night with me and shes gonna be a good Republican b----.”
The post in question on the UW Crushes page before it was removed. (Image: YouTube screenshot)
The UW Crushes Facebook page was one where students could send in their thoughts about people they liked on campus and the administrators of the Facebook group would post it anonymously. In a video created by students about the threatening post and the events that ensued after it, a female student said UW Crushes was, in general, innocent and a place that had some "cute" comments posted about crushes people had.
This controversial post Meg Lanker-Simons reported the post to university administrators and campus police, telling the Laramie Boomerang that as a rape survivor this is "one of the worst things someone can threaten.”
On Tuesday, though, it was revealed by University of Wyoming Police Department that they had cited Lanker-Simons herself for the threatening post. In a separate article, the Laramie Boomerang reported police obtained a warrant to search the student's computer and found substantial evidence verifying that the offending Facebook post came from Lanker-Simons' computer, while the computer was in her possession."
A screenshot of the UW Crushes page before it was taken down by administrators. (Image: YouTube screenshot)
Lanker-Simons was issued a citation for interference and will appear in court May 13. If found guilty of the misdemeanor, Lanker-Simons could see up to a year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines.
Pamela Kandt with the Episcopal Women's Caucus said Lanker-Simons is an innocent victim. Kandt told the Boomerang she believes the police "have bullied her and they have pulled a bluff."
Regardless, the university has said that either way the issue has dredged up an important lesson, which is that UW has zero tolerance for violence of any kind.
"The fact that the Facebook post apparently was a fabrication does not change the necessity for continued vigilance in reassuring that we have a campus where everyone feels safe," UW spokesman Chad Baldwin said in a statement. "It's important that this event does not undermine the progress that has been made in this area."
Students rallied against the post and against sexual violence Monday, a few hours before Lanker-Simons received her citation from police.
Sean Miller, a senior majoring in gender and women’s studies who was the spokesman for the demonstration, told the Boomerang he felt the administration acted appropriately in handling their investigation and that the demonstration was organized "to raise awareness in a civil, peaceful way.”
A video, created by students before the twist in who might have drafted the post in the first place, revealed how many on campus supported Lanker-Simons and used the incident as a platform to speak against violence. The video documented some of the Facebook post, the demonstration held before Lanker-Simons was given a citation and had an interview with the Associated Students/University of Wyoming president:
KOWB-TV reported Lanker-Simons' attorney Charles Pelkey saying his client would be entering a not guilty plea.