A student at the University of Hartford has been expelled from school and charged with criminal mischief after publicly sharing her extreme attempts to force her roommate to move out of their dorm room, The New York Times says. 18-year-old Brianna Brochu, who is white, found herself in trouble after posting on Instagram about her disgusting actions to drive out her black roommate Chennel Rowe.
“After one and a half months spitting in her coconut oil, putting moldy clam drip in her lotions, rubbing used tampons on her backpack, putting her toothbrush places where the sun doesn’t shine, and so much more, I can finally say goodbye to Jamaican Barbie,” her now-deleted Instagram post said.
— NBC Connecticut (@NBCConnecticut) November 1, 2017
The West Hartford Police Department began investigating the situation about two weeks ago, a day after the University of Hartford’s public safety department intervened, and Brochu turned herself in on Oct. 28. Since then, university president Gregory Woodward has confirmed her expulsion. In an online statement, Woodward said that Rowe was moved to a safe location when the news spread to campus authorities. “The incident has brought about accusations of racism, and I want you to know that I hear and share your anger and frustration,” he wrote. “Acts of racism, bias, bullying or other abusive behaviors will not be tolerated on this campus. I pledge to do so everything in my power to work with our community to address related concerns together.”
The school administration clarified that it had followed standard procedures regarding the incident, likely reacting to Rowe coming forward with her own side of the story. In an hour-and-a-half-long Facebook video, Rowe, known as Jazzy, explained that she became extremely sick earlier this semester, which she eventually realized was a result of Brochu interfering with her belongings. After being randomly assigned to live with Brochu at the start of their freshman year, Rowe chose to move out because she felt “unwanted” and experienced “petty, disrespectful stuff.”
While Rowe was moving out, a dormmate called her attention to Brochu’s social media, including the controversial Instagram post and a photo of bloodstains on Rowe’s backpack. Although Brochu has already been charged with the felony of intimidation based on bigotry or bias, Rowe shared her experience online in frustration of not receiving a more urgent response from the University of Hartford.
“If the race roles were reversed, I feel like this would have gone down a different route,” she said in the viral video. The University of Hartford undergraduate student body is approximately 15 percent African American.
“I don’t want to be another statistic,” Rowe said of the college’s slow treatment of her serious situation. “Multiple crimes [were] committed in this thing…and it’s the fact that nothing’s being done. I’m not about to sit here and have this thing dusted, blown away in the wind.”
5. Here’s the full, ugly story. One of the nastiest things I’ve ever heard. And in 2017 that’s saying a lot. https://t.co/6qtUkjGGPP
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) November 1, 2017
Rowe also revealed that because of her illness, she has had to travel to New York several times to see doctors, missing classes as a result. With the hashtag #justiceforjazzy spreading in response to her video, the university has also insisted that, while Rowe was advised not to act on her own, residential staff didn’t intend to “try to keep her quiet.”
In what is an inexcusable treatment of a student, Rowe’s experiences have certainly shone a greater light on bigotry on college campuses.