Last week three students were charged with misdemeanor hate-crime and battery for allegedly taunting their 19-year-old African American roommate with racial slurs and fastening a bicycle lock around his neck.
“First, his white roommates nicknamed him “Three-fifths,” referring to the way the government once counted blacks as just a fraction of a person. When he protested, they dubbed him “Fraction.”
Then they outfitted the four-bedroom dormitory suite they shared with a Confederate flag. They locked him in his room. They wrote the “N-word” on a dry-erase board in the living room. They fastened a bicycle lock around his neck and told him they lost the keys, then tried it again a few weeks later.
It may sound like something out of the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. But police reports indicate it happened last month in the Obama era to a black student at San Jose State University, a liberal campus boasting statues of Olympic athletes making a black power salute.
Late Wednesday, prosecutors filed misdemeanor hate-crime and battery charges against three of the student’s roommates over the alleged hazing, which has sparked anger in the community and on the diverse campus. The men are Logan Beaschler, 18, of Bakersfield; Joseph Bomgardner, 19, of Clovis; and Colin Warren, 18, of Woodacre (Marin County).”
San Jose State University has approximately 33,000 students, three percent of those are black and about a quarter are white. The largest ethnic group on campus is Asian, constituting 32% of the student body.
While African Americans are not one of the larger minority groups on California public college campuses, they have in recent years become the target of racial discrimination. In 2010, students at the University of California, San Diego held a “Compton Cookout” with Facebook invitations that included racial stereotypes. As a side note, Compton, California is largely a Latino city at this point, but the “Compton Cookout” mocked Black History month. In May 2013, at the University of California, Irvine, an African American student received a handwritten note in her backpack that said, “Go back 2 Africa slave.” At that same campus, an an Asian-American fraternity posted a video parody in black face.
The President of San Jose State University released a statement last week condemning the allegations. President Mo Qayoumi said, “They are utterly inconsistent with our long cherished history of tolerance, respect for diversity and personal civility.”
The President of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is asking prosecutors to file felony hate-crime and false imprisonment charges, saying that these allegations go beyond hazing and bullying. In a statement, Reverend Jethroe Moore II, president of the San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP, said, “This is obviously racially based terrorism targeted at their African-American roommate.”