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Black student's roommate rubbed used tampons on her bag, and some are calling racism

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Chennel Rowe, a student at the University of Hartford, was the victim of crimes against her personal property because her roommate didn't like her. (Image source: Facebook video screenshot)

Of all the nightmare stories of bad college roommate pairings, this one may be near the top of the list. While most roommate conflicts end with room reassignments, this one ended with criminal charges and claims of a hate crime.

The conflict

Brianna Brochu and Chennel “Jazzy” Rowe were randomly paired as roommates at the University of Hartford, and moved in together in late August, but they weren’t getting along.

After nearly two months of tension, Rowe was moving out on Oct. 17, when she got some bad news courtesy of Brochu’s Instagram page.

The Instagram post

“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 onion 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 to Jamaican Barbie,” Brochu wrote in a post that has since been deleted.

Because bragging about crimes on social media is a bad idea, and because her transgressions were particularly disgusting, other social media users turned the incident into a viral hashtag, #JusticeForJazzy. Some users said they believed the crime was racially motivated (Brochu is white and Rowe is black).

Punishment and university response

University president Gregory Woodward issued a statement Tuesday condemning Brochu’s actions.

“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.”

Brochu was arrested Saturday and charged with third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree breach of peace after admitting to licking Rowe’s eating utensils and smearing bodily fluid on her backpack.

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