3 college students have been kicked out of school after charges that they lied about being hate-crime victims

Asha Burwell leaves the front of the judge's bench at Albany City Criminal Court on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, following her arraignment in Albany, N.Y. Burwell claimed a group of white men and women harassed her and others with racial slurs aboard a city bus and is being charged with assault. (Paul Buckowski/The Albany Times Union via AP, Pool) MANDATORY CREDIT
Asha Burwell leaves the front of the judge’s bench at Albany City Criminal Court on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, following her arraignment in Albany, N.Y. Paul Buckowski/The Albany Times Union via AP

Three State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany college students who claimed they were the victims of a hate crime were punished by the Student Conduct Board for violating the code of conduct, The Times Union reported.

Two of the students, Ariel Agudio and Asha Burwell, were expelled from the school, and the third, Alexis Briggs, was suspended for two years, according to public statement from SUNY Albany President Robert J. Jones.

The three women ignited an emotionally charged firestorm on SUNY Albany’s campus in January after Burwell tweeted they were the victims of a racially motivated attack on a city bus.

The incident garnered national attention. Even Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton weighed in, tweeting that there was “no excuse for racism and violence on a college campus.”

The women claimed that a group of 12 to 20 people, including white men, attacked them while riding a late-night bus route that students refer to as the “drunk bus,” according to the Times Union. Many bystanders witnessed the account but did nothing to help them, they said, according to the publication.

One of the students, Agudio, called 911 following the incident and told the dispatcher that the women were the victims of a “racial crime” and stated that “if someone doesn’t come and take this down or something, I’m going to call the news,” according to a copy of the call reviewed by the Times Union.

After authorities reviewed footage of the incident, however, a different story began to emerge.

The women appeared to be the aggressors in the video, which shows some of the white men trying to break up the fight, according to police.

“I especially want to point out that what happened on the bus was not a ‘hate crime,'” University Police Department Chief J. Frank Wiley said in a statement, according to the Times Union.

The women were indicted and arraigned on 10 charges including assault and false reporting in early May.

After the claiming the trio were the victims of a hate crime in January, supporters rallied together to confront racism on campus. But now, with police providing evidence that the women lied, some question the damage already done to race relations.

“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?” Kristi Gustafson Barlette wrote in a column in the Times Union.

The incident on SUNY Albany’s campus follows months of racial unrest on other college campuses across the nation. Minority students at Ivy League universities have protested institutional racism at their respective schools, and the president of the University of Missouri resigned last fall amid intense protests about racism on campus.

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