"Three-fifths" and "Fraction" are the names three white roommates at San Jose State University gave their black freshman roommate to remind him that there was a time when blacks were considered a fraction of a person. They also outfitted the room with a Confederate flag and wrote the n-word on a dry erase board. Then the students clamped a bicycle lock shut on his neck and told him they'd lost the key, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
On Wednesday, prosecutors filed misdemeanor hate crime and battery charges against the three men for the alleged hazing.
"This is outrageous," said the Rev. Jethroe Moore II, president of the San Jose-Silicon Valley chapter of the NAACP, the Mercury News notes. "This form of bullying cannot be tolerated."
The men, Logan Beaschler, 18, Joseph Bomgardner, 19, and Colin Warren, 18, have been suspended but have not been arrested, as campus police are waiting for them to surrender, according to ABC News.
"They barricaded him in his room with furniture, they stole his shoes, they created a living environment that was full of hate," Deputy District Attorney Erin West said.
Late August the African-American freshman and seven young white men—all assigned to live together—moved into the four-bedroom, on-campus suite. This is also when the alleged harassment began.
The freshman's parents noticed a Confederate flag draped over a cardboard cutout of Elvis in the living room and the n-word scrawled on a dry erase board. They reported it via housing officials to campus police. Two of the young men were immediately transferred to a different dorm, the Mercury News reports.
The freshman, now 18, said in a brief telephone interview with the Mercury News that he's never experienced this kind of mistreatment. The newspaper did not name the accuser at his parents' request because of the ongoing campus investigation, and because the freshman still lives on campus.
He told university police he always locked his door at night because he was scared of the other students living in the bedroom suite. He didn't feel safe enough to study in his dorm.
According to Mercury News, the young men acknowledged to police that they repeatedly harassed the then-17-year-old but said the incidents were "pranks" and "jokes," denying their actions were racist.
They told the police how they wrestled the freshman to the ground and shut the metal bike lock shaped like a U around his neck.
Investigators also found Nazi symbols in the apartment, including a picture of Adolf Hitler, the "SS" lightning bolt symbol and a swastika.
West told ABC-News that prosecutors decided to file hate crime charges "because of the bullying, the symbols of hatred in the room, as well as the fact he was the only person of color in the suite and he was the only one targeted."
"This is pretty outrageous, it's sad," William Nance, vice president of student affairs told ABC News. "It's, in my words, disgusting. It's behavior that's shocking to see that still occurs in 2013."