A University of Hartford student in Connecticut was charged and expelled from school after admitting to contaminating her roommate’s belongings.
Brianna Brochu, 18, appeared in court Wednesday night for charges stemming from an Instagram post, since deleted, boasting having accomplished driving her roommate from the room.
“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,” the post said.
In an online statement, the university’s president, Gregory S. Woodward, regarded Brochu’s actions as “reprehensible,” claiming that she is no longer a student at the University of Hartford” and that immediate action was taken after the allegations were made.
“It is clear there is work to be done at our University to ensure that all students feel safe, respected and valued. The conversations that began with student groups, faculty, and staff yesterday are going to continue and involve our full community,” Woodward said.
Brochu appeared before Hartford Community Court Judge Tammy Gaethers Wednesday morning but did not make any comments. The West Hartford police requested Brochu be charged with intimidation based on bigotry or bias on top of her breach of peace and criminal mischief case. Under the request of assistant state’s attorney Carl Ajello, the case was transferred to Hartford Superior Court with a Nov. 15 court date.
Brochu told police she requested a room change on Oct. 11 to no avail and she “began to lash out due to a ‘hostile environment’ caused by rude behaviour, not compromising, and posting Snapchat videos of me sleeping and making fun of me snoring.”
Brochu admitted to licking her ex-roommate’s utensils and smearing her bodily fluid on the victim’s backpack. The other claims she denied, telling police her Instagram post was “an attempt to appear funny.”
The victim, Chennel Rowe, recounted her roommate’s behaviour in a Facebook post on Monday, saying that she and Brochu had been randomly placed together and the relationship had always been tense.
On Oct.17 Rowe was already in the process of moving out when one of her neighbours told her of the posts Brochu posted on Instagram. These post included pictures of the bloodstains on Rowe’s backpack and captions suggesting her utensils had been tampered with. Rowe believes Brochu’s actions contributed to the “severe throat pain” she began experiencing the beginning of the year.
“It got to the point where three and a half weeks in, I had extreme throat pain that I couldn’t sleep to the point where I couldn’t speak,” said Rowe. “Still nobody knows what’s wrong with me. All they know is that there’s some type of bad bacteria in my throat causing all this pain.”
Rowe claims the school’s response to the situation was slow, believing race to be a major factor, with Rowe being black and Brochu white. She explains how the school authorities attempted to keep the situation silent, claiming that if she spoke about the situation she could be removed from the campus residence under the No Contact Agreement.
“That’s not what is signed — that has nothing to do with the No Contact Agreement, said Rowe. “I went to the lady that I signed the No Contact agreement with and she was just as confused.”
Molly Polk, one of the university’s spokeswomen, said that the school followed the proper procedures for the situation and that “their intention was never to try to keep her quiet.”
“The incident has brought about accusations of racism, and I want you to know that I hear and share your anger and frustration,” said Woodward. “Acts of racism, bias, bullying, or other abusive behaviours will not be tolerated on this campus.”
According to statistics posted on the university’s site, the student body is 15 percent African-American. Thirty-nine percent of the undergraduate students are minority representation.