BOSTON – A black Harvard University senior who lives in the dorm where a campus visitor was fatally shot says school officials ordered her out of the building and told her she could not graduate, singling her out because of her race.
Chanequa Campbell, of New York, is a friend of the shooting suspect's girlfriend, another Harvard student, but has no connection to the suspect or the victim, her attorney, Jeffrey Karp, told The Associated Press.
She was ordered off campus Friday with little notice and without being told why, Karp said. She was allowed to gather only a few personal belongings from her room after receiving a no-trespassing order, he said.
"There is no citation to the student code, no citation to any law, no citation to any facts," he said.
Harvard spokesman Robert Mitchell said in a statement that the school does not comment on an individual student's status.
Campbell, a sociology major, lived in the dorm where 21-year-old Justin Cosby, a former Salem State College student, was killed May 18 in what authorities say was a drug-related robbery attempt. Jabrai Jordan Copney, a 20-year-old songwriter from New York City, has been charged with murder.
No one else has been charged in the case, but authorities are looking for two other men they think were involved in the confrontation.
Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone has said investigators also were looking at the involvement of Harvard students before and after the shooting.
Copney gained access to the Kirkland House dorm with an electronic card key given to him by a student, prosecutors said. That key did not come from Campbell, Karp said. Campbell was at an exam and at work the day of the shooting and lives in a part of the dorm far from the scene.
Copney is being held without bail after a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf on Friday in Cambridge District Court.
Karp said he did not know of any other student ordered off campus because of the shooting.
Campbell told The Boston Globe for a story Tuesday she believed she was being "singled out."
"The honest answer to that is that I'm black and I'm poor and I'm from New York and I walk a certain way and I keep my clothes a certain way," she said.
Karp said Campbell was not available for an interview Tuesday. He would not say whether she had returned to her Brooklyn home or whether she remained in the Boston area.
In a report last month, a panel convened to look into whether campus police unfairly stopped black people because of their race said more work needed to be done to create a welcoming environment at the school, where 11 percent of admitted students are black.
In 2004, police stopped and questioned a prominent black Harvard professor who matched a robbery suspect's description. Then, in 2007, police responding to noise complaints asked leaders of black student groups holding a field day on campus to show their Harvard IDs.
Last year, a black campus worker who lost his bicycle lock key said an officer drew a gun on him after he tried to cut the lock off.
Karp said Campbell has not been formally expelled, giving her hope that she would be able to attend the June 4 commencement.
"Our hope and prayer is that Harvard will reconsider and allow her to graduate," he said, adding later that Harvard has "made it clear that their position is intractable."
He also left open the possibility that Campbell may take the school to court.
Campbell fears her future has been put in jeopardy, her lawyer said.
"This has besmirched her academic reputation," Karp said.