A University of Hartford student was arrested Saturday after campus officials were notified that she had been systematically tampering with her roommate's personal belongings.
Brianna R. Brochu, 18, was charged with third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree breach of peace, according to the Hartford Courant. Brochu admitted to police that she licked her former roommate's eating utensils and smeared bodily fluids on her backpack, the Courant reported. The incident prompted backlash on social media as many questioned whether Brochu's actions were racially motivated.
The victim, Chennel "Jazzy" Rowe, posted a video on Facebook detailing the ordeal, which she said sounds like a scenario “straight out of a movie scene.”
Rowe said she's experienced inexplicable throat pain over the past few months, and believes it may be related to Brochu tainting her belongings.
"I had extreme throat pain and couldn’t sleep, to the point I couldn’t speak… I could barely whisper," she said.
Many are sharing Rowe's ordeal with the hashtag #JusticeForJazzy, and urging the University of Hartford to address what many call a "hate crime."
#JusticeForJazzy call me crazy but 2nd degree breach of peace & crim mischief is NOT severe enough. This is what we call, "white privilege"— KEIA 😘❤💕 (@MYKEIA) November 1, 2017
In the Facebook Live, Rowe said she was randomly assigned Brochu as a roommate and moved into their dorm in late August. From the beginning, there was tension between the two roommates and Rowe said she felt like a "ghost" in her room.
As things got worse, Rowe said she decided to move rooms and was in the process of moving her belongings on Oct. 17, when she was alerted to disturbing posts on Brochu's Instagram page.
"Finally did it. Yo girl got rid of her roommate!! After 1 1/2 month of spitting in her coconut oil, putting moldy clam dip in her lotion and rubbing used tampons on her backpack, putting her toothbrush in places where the sun doesn't shine, and so much more I can finally say goodbye Jamaican Barbie," Brochu, who goes by breezy_bumble_b on Instagram, wrote, according to a now deleted post.
The backlash on social media and on campus prompted the University's president, Greg Woodward, to release a statement condemning the "deeply upsetting" incident and setting the record straight on how the campus has responded.
Brochu was not charged with a hate crime, but Woodward acknowledged that the incident "has brought about accusations of racism."
"I want you to know that I hear and share your anger and frustration," Woodward said in the statement. "Acts of racism, bias, bullying, or other abusive behaviors will not be tolerated on this campus. I pledge to do everything in my power to work with our community to address related concerns together."
He said the university acted as soon as it was notified about the incident, and Public Safety immediately helped the victim to a safe location and notified local authorities.
He called claims that the school did not follow "procedural and legal processes related to this alleged event" misinformation.