A white University of Hartford student found herself expelled and behind bars after bragging online about torturing her unknowing Black roommate to the point of getting her to move out. However, it wasn’t until the roommate broadcasted the discovery on Facebook Live that the university and local police began to take the claims seriously.
According to the Hartford Courant, 18-year-old Brianna Rae Brochu was arrested and charged with third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree breach of peace. Police say she admitted to licking Chennel “Jazzy” Rowe’s utensils and smearing period blood from used tampons onto her backpack while they were roommates. After Rowe’s case garnered national across social media, University of Hartford’s President Greg Woodward announced on Wednesday that Brochu was expelled and “will not be returning to the institution.”
Rowe had begun moving out of her dorm room with Brochu on Oct. 17 after previously feeling ostracized and ignored in the months they lived together. However, while moving out, Rowe was approached by her resident assistant, who told her Brochu had shared “very concerning posts” on Instagram about Rowe’s move.
According to West Hartford, Connecticut, police, and screenshots shared on social media, Brochu bragged about how she “tampered” with Rowe’s belongings in an effort to get rid of her, who she called “Jamaican Barbie.” Brochu’s claims were absolutely heinous, writing she had spit in Rowe’s coconut oil, put moldy clam dip in her lotions, rubbed period blood on her backpack, and put her toothbrush “places where the sun doesn’t shine.”
— tsunami taj (@EverythingTaj) October 31, 2017
Rowe reported the posts to the university, which then involved West Hartford Police, but she was told she might not hear back about the incident, according to Fox 61. She was also asked to sign a “no contact agreement” to never contact Brochu again, and was told that she could be removed from campus if she was caught talking about the incident. And while Brochu was arrested on Saturday, Oct. 28, Rowe felt like the university wasn’t handling her claims seriously.
So, upset with how the investigation was being handled, Rowe shared her story on Facebook Live on Monday, Oct. 30, catching the ire of social media for the university’s apparent inactivity despite the terroristic behavior Rowe discovered.
— Blake ⛽️ (@hasaniblakejr) October 31, 2017
— Kathy Hawkins (@katlavellehawk) November 1, 2017
— deray (@deray) November 1, 2017
In the video, Rowe said she had gotten sick and had throat pain several times throughout the semester, once to the point of being unable to speak. Campus health services gave her antibiotics, but even several medical tests couldn’t help them figure out why she was getting sick. Brochu told police that she did lick and use period blood on Rowe’s possessions, but said she made up the other claims she bragged about “in an attempt to ‘appear funny.’” She also told police that she didn’t intend to injure Rowe or get her sick, and was retaliating for Rowe posting videos making fun of Brochu snoring on Snapchat.
Rowe said if she was white and Brochu was Black, the university would be properly addressing her roommate’s behavior against her.
So this is what happened….
Posted by Jazzy Rowe on Monday, October 30, 2017
“Now this isn’t right at all, and this is where the public gets involved to push for things to be done right. I’m not holding my tongue any longer about my situation because this is just ridiculous to hear nothing back from my school about this situation,” Rowe said during the live video. “As a African American woman I have to fight for myself and others to not become some statistic.”
Rowe’s video has since been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, and has been shared thousands of times. After Rowe went public with her story, Hartford’s President Woodward published a letter the next day condemning racism and hatred, and wrote the university was committed to following the investigation process as outlined by the Code of Student Conduct. And, thanks to Rowe’s supporters and challengers of the university’s seemingly slow pace, the investigation has led to Brochu’s expulsion.
Brochu went free on $1,000 bail. Both charges against her are Class B misdemeanors, which would each come with a maximum six months in prison, with the possibility of a fine.
“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 wrote in the statement regarding Brochu’s expulsion. “I am dedicated to that mission and will continue to share additional information about opportunities for our path forward in meaningful dialogue and action.”
H/T the Root
Update 1pm CT, Nov. 2: On Wednesday, West Hartford police requested Brochu also be charged with intimidation based on bigotry or bias and a hate crime, in addition to her previous two charges. According to the Hartford Courant, Brochu appeared in Hartford Community Court on Wednesday, but her case, at the request of assistant State Attorney Carl Ajello, has to be transferred to Hartford Superior Court. Her next court date is Nov. 15.