A ONE time student at a US university admitted licking her roommate's dining utensils and secretly smearing bodily fluids on her backpack in a "deeply disturbing" case of alleged bullying that exploded on social media and saw hate crime charges filed on Wednesday.
Ms Rowe said she had felt "unwanted in [her] own room" since being randomly assigned to bunk with Brianna Rae Brochu in late August. After moving in, Ms Rowe said, she started getting sick, including a throat pain that ultimately led her to see a doctor.
Ms Rowe said she had requested a room change and had begun moving her belongings to another location on October 17, when she was approached by one of her student neighbours who spotted "very concerning posts" on Brochu's Instagram account, according to police reports obtained by the Hartford Courant newspaper.
One of the posts - which has since been deleted but was captured via screenshot by Ms Rowe - appeared to confirm her suspicions: Brochu had been covertly harassing her and tampering with her personal items for more than a month.
"Finally did it ya girl got rid of her roommate!" Ms Rowe said, recalling Brochu's post. "After 1½ months of spitting in her coconut oil, putting mouldy 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, who was arrested on Saturday on charges of third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree breach of peace, has admitted licking Ms Rowe's plate, fork and spoon, as well as smearing her own bodily fluid on Ms Rowe's backpack, but denied the other actions she referenced on Instagram. She told West Hartford police that those statements were lies and a way to "appear funny" online.
Ms Rowe, who allegedly posted Snapchat videos of Brochu snoring. Brochu also requested a room change last month but was unsuccessful, according to the Courant.
Ms Rowe's video prompted a nationwide response on social media, with many users posting in support of Rowe and calling for #JusticeforJazzy. (Ms Rowe's Facebook account identifies her as Jazzy Rowe, but a University of Hartford email directory lists her as Chennel Rowe.)
"I can't believe someone would do this," one Twitter post read. "Such a despicable human being. Sorry you had to go through that girl."
Others on social media characterised the allegations as "absolutely disgusting and atrocious," while some said Brochu could've killed Ms Rowe by contaminating her lotion with mould.
The incident and its subsequent explosion on social media also prompted the university's president to address students Wednesday, saying that the "deeply upsetting" incident doesn't reflect the values of the school.
University President Greg Woodward also addressed the "accusations of racism" raised by Ms Rowe and others in connection with the incident.
"Acts of racism, bias, bullying, or other abusive behaviours will not be tolerated on this campus," Mr Woodward said in a statement. "I pledge to do everything in my power to work with our community to address related concerns together."
Mr Woodward has also met with Ms Rowe and has been in talks with her family.
"We will continue to offer support and assistance to her, as well as any other student that feels threatened, victimised, or uncomfortable on our campus," his statement continued. "Let me repeat: racism and hatred will not be tolerated on this campus. Period."
A judge ordered Brochu to stay off the University of Hartford's campus during a brief court appearance on Wednesday, the Hartford Courant reports. Police in West Hartford also requested that Brochu face hate crime charges of intimidation based on bigotry or bias in addition to the breach of peace and criminal mischief counts she faces. Brochu did not comment during the hearing and her case was transferred to Hartford Superior Court, where she's expected to return on November 15, the Courant reports.
Mr Woodward also released a second statement Wednesday on the "deeply disturbing situation," saying Brochu is no longer a student at the 6700-student university.
"She will not be returning to the institution. There has been an outpouring of concern for the victim of these acts from across the University and the country. In my meeting with her yesterday, I reiterated my personal commitment to ensuring she has all available personal and academic resources the University can provide."
Ms Rowe, who did not return a message from The New York Post seeking comment on Wednesday, said she believes the incident would've been handled much differently if she had victimised Brochu.
"The fact that I'm black and my old roommate was white … If the roles was switched, I want to know if it would be handled the same way, right?" Ms Rowe said during her Facebook Live video. "Because I damn well know it wouldn't."
The story first appeared in The New York Post and is republished with permission.
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