When parents send their children off to college, they worry about many things: “Will my child be able to adapt to the cultural differences of campus?” “Will they make reasonable choices to do their school work?”
But recent news from Hartford University shows that on top of these universal concerns, as parents of color, we need to worry about our children being victims of hate crimes that put their health at risk.
College freshman Briana Bochu is facing criminal charges after evidence surfaced that she has spent the last few months harassing and contaminating her former African-American roommate at University of Hartford personal items. And the reports are enough to make any person gag.
“After one and a half months spitting in her coconut oil, putting moldy clam dip 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,” said 18-year-old Bochu.
This incident reinforces feelings of frustration expressed by persons of color about how campuses around the country have handled race-related issues.
In an hour and a half long video, Bochu's roommate Chennel Rowe expressed the frustration, disgust and shock she felt upon learning the cruel mistreatment she’d experience. During this Facebook video, she informed viewers how the offenses were taken lightly and nearly overlooked completely. In fact, it was only after others reported the incriminating social media posts by Bochu that the allegations were finally taken seriously.
Along with discussing the "bacteria present in her throat" that led to chronic throat pain that was found by university health officials, Rowe recounted being told to keep quiet about the issue by school personnel. Rowe described the happenings as “straight out of a movie scene.”
In a statement, Bochu admitted to licking Rowe's utensils, adding substances to her lotion and placing menstrual blood on her belongings — but denied doing anything else.
Bochu admitted to licking Rowe's utensils, adding substances to her lotion and placing menstrual blood on her belongings
University President Greg Woodward briefly mentioned the incident on Tuesday night saying, “I am writing to you this evening to send a strong message regarding an incident that is deeply upsetting to me, our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. One of our students was the alleged victim of bullying, and her story was shared across social media. Let me be clear: the accused student’s behavior was reprehensible and does not reflect the values of our institution. Let me also be clear that I am confident the University has taken all steps to pursue this matter seriously, and will continue to do so.”
The school announced early Wednesday that Bochu is no longer a student at the University of Hartford. But many on social media are watching the actions of the university to ensure they handle the incident and address the severity of racism and other hate crimes.
Experiences like these discourage parents of color like me from sending their children to predominantly white institutions. What's at risk is just too high.
Campus mischief is often expected — but not like this.