US student racially victimises college roommate

A white American university student who smeared her bodily fluids on her black flatmate’s belongings has been arrested and may be facing additional charges.

Brianna Brochu posted about her actions against Chennel Rowe on Instagram for the first time on October 17.

“After 1½ months of spitting in her coconut oil, putting moldy clam dip in her lotions, rubbing used tampons [on] her backpack, putting her toothbrush where the sun doesn’t shine and so much more I can finally say goodbye to Jamaican Barbie,” Brochu wrote in her post.

Brochu was charged with criminal mischief and breach of peace. West Harvard Police requested that the judge add a charge of second degree intimidation based on bigotry or bias. In the state of Connecticut this would be considered a hate crime and a felony.

Brochu admitted to smearing used tampons on her roommates backpack and licking her utensils. She denied all other claims she made in the Instagram post, telling police they were lies to “appear funny”.

President of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People Scot Esdaile said that Brochu’s actions were “more than bullying, mischief or breach of peace. It was physical harm intended to intimidate and terrorize Chennel into feeling unwelcome in her own dorm room, because of her race and the colour of her skin.”

“I imagine that it’s a bigger problem in the States, especially in the political climate. A lot people who felt like they couldn’t do things before, now feel like they can,” said DCU student Daniel Cox. “I don’t think I could picture this happening in Ireland.”

The president of the University of Hartford Greg Woodward issued a statement addressing the issue and calling on the community to join him in “practising understanding, tolerance, inclusion, and grace.”

“The incident has brought about accusations of racism, and I want you to know that I hear and share your anger and frustration. Acts of racism, bias, bullying, or other abusive behaviors will not be tolerated on this campus,” said Woodward.

“As a young African-American woman, I don’t want to become another statistic. When it comes to college incidents/crimes and racial cases justice needs to be served,” said Rowe.

Brochu has been banned from the campus, ordered to stay away from Rowe, and will appear in court again on November 17.

Emily Sheahan

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