Over the past few months, reports of racism, bigotry and hate crimes have been appearing all over the nation. Whether these acts are against certain races, sexualities or cultures, they are incredibly hurtful and dangerous events not only for the victims involved, but also for the society that they occur in. While these incidents may seem like a foreign concept to our little UConn bubble, recently, hate crimes are popping up much closer to home, with one recently occurring at the University of Hartford.
The incident at the University of Hartford was brought to light at the end of October, when a freshman student, Brianna Brochu, posted on social media about the way she had harassed her roommate, Chennel Rowe, in order to force her to move out of the room. In her post on Instagram, Brochu posted, “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.” Once this post was seen by other people in the residence hall, including some of Rowe’s friends, it was brought to administration and authorities in the university.
Brochu was expelled from the university shortly after the revelations about her actions came to light, and has since been arrested on charges of breach of peace and criminal mischief. The Connecticut branch of the NAACP also would like a hate crime charge added to her case.
However, despite all of the horrible actions that Brochu admitted to in her social media posts, the victim, Rowe, said that she did not feel that the university took her claims seriously or with enough vigilance. In a video that she posted to her Facebook account, Rowe explained how the school did not seem to act urgently in response to her case, and that she felt if the race roles were reversed, they would have.
These hate crimes, in addition to how we deal with them, are an issue in America that needs to be stopped. Not only are they heinous and just downright wrong, but they are taking away the freedoms of thousands of Americans, whether they are directly affected or not. Having a hate crime perpetrated against you is nothing that anyone should ever have to live through, but if it does occur, we have to make sure that our establishments, be it our schools, our workplaces, or our government, are prepared to handle them effectively and with a sense of urgency. More than that, we need to ensure that we, as students, look after each other like students at the University of Hartford tried to do for Rowe in the aftermath of this crime.
This growing trend of hate crimes is not something we should be proud of, and is not something we should try to put on the back burner. It is an issue that needs to be addressed now, before more of our citizens feel that they are being intimidated or harassed into submission.