The students currently face misdemeanor hate-crime and battery charges for allegedly forcing their 17-year-old black roommate to wear a bicycle lock around his neck and taunting him with racial slurs that referred to slavery.
On Saturday, the president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called on prosecutors to file felony hate-crime and false imprisonment charges in the case.
“This is not simple hazing or bullying,” Reverend Jethroe Moore II, president of the San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP, said in a statement. “This is obviously racially based terrorism targeted at their African-American roommate.”
The case has roiled students on the university’s campus, prompting a protest held by civil rights groups last week and another one planned for Monday. At a news conference Monday, the NAACP will also be calling on university officials to conduct an investigation into why the alleged abuse wasn’t stopped sooner.
Campus officials learned about the alleged incidents last month, when the parents of the black freshman, who has not been identified, went to his dorm room and saw a racial slur on a dry-erase board, according to reports.
The student later told campus police that he had been repeatedly harassed, saying four of his roommates called him “three-fifths,” referring to a slavery-era provision of the Constitution that counted slaves as three-fifths of a person. According to campus police, the roommates hung a Confederate flag in their suite and one had Nazi paraphernalia in his dorm room.
The students charged are Logan Beaschler and Collin Warren, both 18, and Joseph Bomgardner, 19. All have been suspended.
A fourth student, an unidentified juvenile, has been suspended from the university but not yet charged.
The university also plans to host a public forum during the first two weeks in December about racial tolerance.
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