A graduate of the University of Virginia (UVA) has described how a woke mob ruined her life with false allegations while she was a student at the university. It took more than a year before investigations at UVA cleared her completely of the allegations, but those behind the fake charges suffered no repercussions.
In 2020, University of Virginia student Morgan Bettinger became the subject of a campus-wide scandal after protesters accused her of telling them they would make “good fucking speed bumps” at a Black Lives Matter protest in Charlottesville — despite there being no evidence of her saying that.
Bettinger, now a graduate of UVA, told Reason magazine that in 2020, she had told a truck driver — who was parked to block traffic on the street where the protestors were — that it was good he was there, or else traffic would turn the protestors into speed bumps.
The student told the outlet that she said something like “It’s a good thing that you are here, because otherwise these people would have been speed bumps.”
While Bettinger says she doesn’t remember her exact words, she maintains that her brief exchange with the truck diver was meant to thank him for protecting the protestors, who were sitting in the middle of a street that was typically very busy.
“Not once did anything from the past, of even the rally, Unite the Right rally, cross my mind,” she said. “It was simply a comment made to a [dump] truck driver who was sitting and blocking the road, and just saying, like, ‘It’s good you’re here.’”
After that, Bettinger said she walked around the front of the truck and then toward the crowd to check out the protest before walking back to her car. At that point, she realized that a few protestors had begun to take an interest in her, and that she was being followed.
Rumors that Bettinger had threatened to run them over had apparently been spread among the protestors, who now had their sights on the UVA student.
So Bettinger got into her car and quickly called her mother, as she found her car surrounded by angry protestors, who grew increasingly aggressive and angry, and started screaming at her.
Bettinger told Reason that she became frightened and called 911 after one of the protestors started pounding on her car’s windows, “with the one woman hitting on my car and other people shouting and starting to threaten me, I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
The incident then went viral on social media after fellow UVA student, 19-year-old Zyahna Bryant, posted about it in a Twitter thread, writing, “The woman in this truck approached protesters in #Charlottesville, and told us that we would make ‘good speedbumps. She then called the police and started crying saying we were attacking her.”
Bryant was retweeted more than 1,000 times, and the incident soon became a campus-wide scandal that Bettinger said ended up infiltrating every facet of her college life.
“They tried to kick me out of my own major,” she said. “One individual of my cohort even compared me to a rapist.”
In the years that followed, Bettinger was the subject of multiple investigations, and the University Judiciary Committee (UJC) would eventually find her guilty of “threatening the health or safety” of students, Reason reported.
Bettinger was then “expelled in abeyance,” which meant she could continue with her schooling, but a second similar violation would likely result in actual expulsion. The student also “faced a litany of other sanctions,” the magazine reported.
A year later, the university’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights (EOCR) concluded that Bryant like did not actually hear the “speed bump” comment firsthand.
The EOCR noted in its report that Bryant’s allegations could not be corroborated by other witnesses — despite her claiming that the comments were made in front of a large crowd — and that on two separate occasions, Bryant made an accusation, then later claimed she heard something else, or even that she wasn’t sure she heard something at all.
Moreover, the only witness who corroborated Bryant’ claims was voided out, as the witness was caught contradicting both themselves and Bryant during their interviews.
While Bettinger has since been vindicated and able to graduate from UVA, she did so with her reputation destroyed, and with the USJ verdict on her record, she said.
“Just because [the EOCR] found the correct answer, in some sense, didn’t get rid of everything I had just gone through,” she told Reason.
“This whole situation has had a huge impact on my life,” Bettinger says. “The university has never had to answer for what their actions have done.”
Meanwhile, Bryant has thrived since she made her allegations against Bettinger. The activist “received a glowing Washington Post profile in 2021, and last year she was named to Ebony’s ‘Power 100’ list and was featured in a Juneteenth-themed post on Instagram’s official page,” Reason reported.
As for Bettinger, who is a first-generation college student, she “lives in a state of limbo,” the magazine said. Her father, a police officer, had died of cancer six years before the incident. Today, Bettinger still lives and works in the Charlottesville area, but she did not say where, out of fear of being harassed.
She had dreams of going to law school, but now feels that such aspirations are completely out of reach, given the black mark on her record and her new reputation after apparently having been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.
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