SUNY Albany students Ariel Agudio, Asha Burwell and Alexis Briggs, all of whom are 20 years old, faced serious consequences from the university after they pleaded not guilty to charges of misdemeanor assault and falsely reporting an incident.
Agudio and Burwell were both expelled, while Briggs was suspended for two years, according to a message delivered by University President Robert J. Jones to students on Thursday.
The women, all of whom are African-American, reported that they were harassed by 10 to 12 white men and women on a city bus and that racial slurs were used. However, university police claimed that the three were the aggressors in the situation and that there was no evidence to show that they were targeted because of their race.
“The real crime now is that the university is serving as the charging party against its own students in the criminal courts,” attorney Frederick Brewington has said.
In his message, Jones pointed out that the incident had been used “as an opportunity to engage with the critical issues around race in our society.”
“I encourage all of us to continue to remain united as we work together to nurture an inclusive and respectful campus community,” Jones said.