We’ve all heard a horrific roommate story or two in our time: The time your friend had to endure hearing her roomie and her boyfriend have sex on the top bunk. That one roommate who was such a slob that she singlehanded triggered a roach infestation. I’m pretty sure my friend had a roommate who was dealing drugs out of her dorm room. These things happen, they’re a part of the college experience.
But what happened to Chennel “Jazzy” Rowe, a freshman at the University of Hartford, at the hand of her roommate, Brianna Brochu, was so horrific that you’ll be sick to your stomach.
Brochu wrote an Instagram post claiming to rub menstrual blood on Rowe’s purse, stick Rowe’s toothbrush where “the sun doesn’t shine,” put molding clam dip in Rowe’s beauty products, and more. Brochu has been charged with two misdemeanors and a hate crime; Brochu is white, Rowe is black.
According to a Rowe, there was tension between the two from the start. Rowe moved into her dorm in late August and was randomly assigned Brochu as a roommate. “I was basically ignored, she’d treat me like a ghost,” said Rowe, in a Facebook Live video in which she told the entire disturbing tale. “I kind of felt unwanted.”
But Rowe doesn’t like conflict, so when Brochu would, for example, turn off the bedroom lights as Rowe was working, Rowe would just turn on her own personal light and keep it moving. But she still felt uncomfortable, so she decided to seek out a new dorm room situation.
While the roommate drama was simmering, Rowe encountered another problem: She kept getting sick. Initially, she blamed her extreme throat pain to being under the weather and unacclimated the cold Connecticut climate. She visited her school’s student health center multiple times, using whatever pocket money she had to pay for exams and antibiotics, but nothing seemed to help. The doctors knew she had a bacterial infection, but they were unable to diagnose her with anything concrete.
Rowe would soon find out why, perhaps, she was getting so sick.
— Blake ⛽️ (@hasaniblakejr) October 31, 2017
By October, Rowe was assigned to a new dorm and began to pack her things. Brochu noticed Rowe packing up her clothes and asked if she was moving. When Rowe confirmed, Brochu “made a face” and began typing away on her phone. Rowe assumed she was letting her friends know the great news, but it was later revealed that what Brochu was actually doing was making an damning Instagram post:
Brochu’s Instagram post read: “Finally did it yo girl got rid of her roommate!! After 1 1/2 month [sic] of spitting in her coconut oil, putting moldy clam dip in her lotions, rubbing used tampons oh [sic] her backpack, putting her toothbrush places where the sun doesn’t shine, and so much more I can finally say goodbye Jamaican Barbie.” Her account is now private.
During Rowe’s Facebook Live video–which has now been viewed over one million times–Rowe shared photos of menstrual blood stains Brochu left on her purse and the coconut oil that Brochu mixed with old clam dip. Rowe also shared screenshots of photos Brochu allegedly shared on social media, in which Brochu bragged about contaminating Rowe’s food and other belongings.
Perhaps one of most troubling pieces of information to come out of this story, however, was the slow response from the University of Hartford. The school claimed it was conducting an investigation, but Rowe accused them of, at best, stalling, and at worst, doing nothing and hoping the unpleasant situation withered away with little fanfare. But with the help of Rowe’s Facebook Live and the hashtag #JusticeForJazzy, the media took note of the incident. The University of Hartford then expelled Brochu and local law enforcement pressed charges.
We can all agree that this is a great step in the right direction, but it’s distressing that there was so much inaction until the internet managed to make the university look bad. Rowe claims that her university’s housing department threatened to kick her out of student housing if she went public with her story. That’s absolutely absurd. Students shouldn’t have to plead with strangers online for help resolving an abusive situation.
If you’re having trouble with your roommate, make sure to tell an RA immediately; if nothing is done, go to a higher up until something is. Hell, get your parents involved if you need to. It might be a pain, but it’s better than living in hellish conditions for nine months.