At least four minority students at the University of Texas, Austin say they have been victims of a “bleach bomb” attack while walking near campus, but none of them filed police reports after the incidents, authorities said.
Police got involved when they heard “through the grapevine” that Asian and African-American students had spoken out on social media about the bleach incidents, which happened between June and September.
“The victims need to make a report so we can either assist [Austin Police] if it was off campus or work on it ourselves if it was on campus,” UT Police Chief Robert Dahlstrom told the Austin American Statesman. “We need facts to go on.”
Four of the students who said they were hit, or almost hit, by the balloons joined a march Tuesday to speak out about what some believe is a “deep, lingering racism on and around campus,” UT’s newspaper The Horn reported.
Taylor Carr, a sophomore anthropology student, said she was struck with a bleach bomb in June while walking in West Campus, an area where many students live. The balloon came from a high-rise building and she thinks she was targeted because she is black.
A student says that someone threw a balloon filled with bleach down on her.
“It is people of color they are attacking in West Campus,” Carr told The Horn. “Until we put pressure on the university to [protect] us, these events are going to keep happening.”
School officials say they are taking the new allegations very seriously.
“The last thing in today’s world that anyone wants is any racial issues on campus or anywhere,” Dahlstrom told the Statesman. “I hope students are above that … [but] I am not naive to think there are not some issues.”
UT Austin’s Greek community has faced criticism recently for hosting ethnically themed parties some found offensive. Two large sororities apologized recently for hosting a “Fiesta” party in which some partygoers wore shirts that read “Illegal” and “Border Patrol.”
Jaysen Runnels, an African-American student, told KVUE-TV that he was hit twice by bleach balloons while walking near campus.
He doesn’t think he was a random target.
“It’s very frustrating to know that it’s 2012 and that stuff like this still happens,” Runnels said.