In November 2017, a white female harassed her black roommate at the University of Hartford. The black student said she always felt tension in the dorm room, and she eventually found a new roommate. When the black student said she was moving, her white roommate admitted she had been contaminating her roommate’s toothbrush with a foreign substance. The black student had experienced a sore throat for the past month, but the campus health center was unable to diagnose her illness. When the black student found her former roommate had bragged on social media about the harassment, the black student filed a complaint.
The incident gained national media attention. Police arrested the white student, and the court found her guilty of two criminal misdemeanors. The Hartford University President announced zero tolerance for campus bigotry and criminal misbehavior, and he expelled the white student.
Increase in student campus bias-motivated crimes
The FBI reported an overall U.S. increase in bias crimes. Of this increase, 9.9 percent were committed at schools or on college campuses. The most common bias-related college crimes are personal intimidation or assault. The report specified the bias motivations of campus crimes and their percentages:
- Religious bias: 12.6 percent
- Gender bias: 6.5 percent
- Gender identity and orientation bias: 12.8 percent
- Disability bias: 10 percent
- Racial bias: 9.4 percent
- Multiple biases: 9.0 incidents
In defense of student misconduct on college campuses
It is unfair to judge young people too harshly. Students need reasonable sanctions when they misbehave. However, one instance of poor judgment by a student can result in serious and far-reaching consequences in life. Students who come from good families can make errors uncharacteristic of their normal morals and conduct. Not every student accused of a crime should receive sanctions that damage their future because of a momentary lapse in behavior. Students can also be wrongly accused of committing an offense or falsely accused regarding the severity of their behavior.
Every young person deserves representation by a legal professional who understands the student’s right to justice and fair treatment. Any student facing an accusation should immediately seek legal help to find off-campus resources experienced in investigating the truth and mitigating unreasonable sanctions.