On Wednesday, three San Jose State University freshmen were suspended and charged with hate crimes for their mistreatment of a black roommate. Colin Warren, Joseph Bomgardner, and Logan Beaschler have not yet been arrested because campus police are waiting for them to surrender.
According to the unnamed black roommate, Warren, Bomgardner, and Beaschler began the school year in August by referring their roommate as "Three-fifths." When he asked them to stop, they began calling him "Fraction." They also:
- Outfitted the shared dorm room suite with a Confederate flag
- Barricaded the claustrophobic student in his room
- Wrote "nigger" on a dry-erase board in the living room
- Put a U-shaped bike lock around his neck and then told him they lost the key
- Tried the bike lock trick again a few weeks later
- Put up Nazi symbols and pictures of Hitler in the dorm
- Drew pictures of pentagrams to alarm the Christian student
The incidents were first reported to housing authorities by the black student's father, who noticed the flag and the white board in the room during an October visit. The parents also tried to talk to the young men when they visited.
After the freshman's father talked to the roommates and reported the matter, the freshman received what police characterized as a "sarcastic apology note," signed only "The Residents." The note mentions "the Beloved Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr." and urges the freshman to let bygones be bygones. It also contains a warning of sorts in the postscript: "The Residents have welcomed you, it is not advised to ignore the call of The Residents."
When asked why the black student didn't report the behavior himself, he said he just hoped it would stop. He also told university police he'd been afraid to study in the room, and that he'd been locking his bedroom door at night because he was scared of his roommates.
The young men charged on Wednesday admit to teasing, but say their actions were not "racist." Like all racists, they claim their actions were just harmless "pranks" and "jokes." Their underappreciated comedy routines could send them to jail for up to a year.
At SJSU, students rallied in support of the black student on Thursday, some believing it takes too long for the university to act on matters related to race. According to student Champagne Ellison, "They feel like, 'okay basically you all are here on charity to begin with, so whatever issue that happens just be lucky that you are here.'"