Three of the San Jose State students who were accused of racially abusing Donald Williams, an 18-year-old Black freshman, have been expelled from the California university.
A fourth student, a minor, has been put on probation for the rest of his college career, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
The university took action after the four white students pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor battery and hate crime charges. The four are accused of putting a bike lock around Williams’ neck, taunting him with racial slurs, barricading him in his room and putting up a Confederate flag. The roommates are Colin Warren, 18; Joseph Bomgardner, 19; and Logan Beaschler, 18.
The expelled students are banned from enrolling in any college in the California State University system.
According to the Mercury News, the lawyer for one of the expelled students said he is disappointed with the outcome because he believes the school didn’t conduct a thorough review.
Williams has filed a $5 million claim against the university and other parties. The claim is technically not a lawsuit, but rather is a precursor that allows for settlement discussions to take place in an effort to avoid a lawsuit.
The basis of the action is that the university failed to protect the teen from further incidents of racial bullying after he made initial complaints.
“When there can be this level of bullying at San Jose State University, a bastion of progressive thought, that should be a bellwether for everyone nationwide,” said his lawyer, Carl Douglas.
According to police reports, emails and court documents, Williams reported several incidents of harassment dating as far back as September 2013. The incidents, reportedly initiated by his four white roommates, included: flying the Confederate flag and displaying Nazi imagery in the dorm room; physically scuffling with Williams and fastening a U-shaped bicycle lock around his neck; and calling him “three-fifths” — a term used during the pre-Civil war era to describe slaves as three-fifths human in census records.
These occurrences, which mirror deleted scenes of director John Singleton’s film “Higher Learning,” were not enough to get the attention of Charles May, a student housing assistant, who knew about them and failed to respond. It took a formal complaint by Williams’ parents to the university before attention was given to his claims.
The president of San Jose State, Mohammad Qayoumi Williams, has reportedly apologized for the university’s negligence.