Hip-hop hoax: Class takes to Twitter to fool campus

Michael McKay

If anyone is still upset over the explosion of tweets Wednesday saying the university would ban hip-hop music, they can blame Craig Lonas.

The Scottsville senior came up with the idea of starting a slow-burning rumor of a story about the university ban for a class project in “Hip-Hop Democracy,” an African-American studies class.

“I thought about ‘Footloose,’ and I thought about the whole Twitter scandal last year, and I thought, ‘What if we created this fake fear that hip-hop was going to be banned?” Lonas said.

He said the reasoning was that “you don’t appreciate something until it’s gone,” and students who got upset would better appreciate how important hip-hop is.

“By telling them it’s going to be banned officially, you’re challenging people to come up with a reason that it should stay around,” he said. “So the hope was to gather students next Tuesday to a rally and talk about why we think hip-hop is important.”

Lonas said after some debate in his class, they decided creating public outrage would be the best way to drum up support for their rally.

“It was a class effort,” he said.

The idea was to have the hoax take a “slow burn” approach, slowly ramping up public opinion.

Instead, it fizzled out as soon as it was lit.

If anyone in Lonas’ class is upset over how quickly the explosion of tweets saying the university would ban hip-hop music ended, they may be able to blame assistant professor Lloren Foster.

Foster, who teaches the class, sent an email to WKU administration Wednesday warning them that the hoax was for a class.

“It has nothing to do with WKU implementing a policy,” Foster said in the email to WKU officials, but “everything to do with the AFAM 490 student population creating the illusion for the final project.”

Foster also said the he hoped the hoax would garner student participation in addressing “hip-hop as a shaper of our society.”

Foster did not have a comment for this story.

Bob Skipper, director of Media Relations, said his department received the email but was caught off-guard by how quickly the story picked up.

In the email, Foster said the hoax would occur next Tuesday.

Lonas, who didn’t send the first tweet about the hoax, was asleep during most of Wednesday’s firestorm because of a cold.

He said didn’t know until after WKU’s official Twitter account published a tweet debunking the hoax that the email had been sent.

He said his class would have to figure out what to do now that the hoax is public knowledge.

But he said that the class would still have the rally Tuesday in Mass Media and Technology Hall auditorium at 3:30 p.m.