The head of a national organization to end housing discrimination believes that the recent harassment case at the University of Hartford could violate the Fair Housing Act.
Freshman Brianna Brochu has left the university and is facing potential hate crime charges after she boasted about bullying and attempting to poison her roommate, who is African American.
The National Fair Housing Alliance said the harassment could be interpreted as an attempt to displace the alleged victim, Chennel Rowe, from her housing.
The federal Fair Housing Act was passed almost 50 years ago to eliminate housing discrimination and includes a provision to protect people from harassment, intimidation, or coercion because of race, national origin, religion, sex, color, disability, or familial status.
The alliance's executive vice president, Lisa Rice, said that could be a problem for the university.
"Universities and colleges have to take acts of hate, they have to take acts of discrimination extremely seriously," she told WNPR. "Not just for the safety of the students, but also the university wants to protect itself against liability. And it could face liability in this particular action."
In an emailed statement, a university spokesman said the school alerted police as soon as it was aware of the problem. Brochu told police she requested a room transfer six days before the university reported the incident, according to the Hartford Courant.