Jessica Taylor's first few weeks as a freshman at Penn State went about as typically as you might expect: she's majoring in psychology; she joined a sorority (Phi Mu); she didn't really get along with her roommate in her dorm. What can you do?
Then she found out her roommate was subtweeting the hell out of her on Twitter, and as the social contract between 18-years-old left alone in the world for the first time demands, her revenge was swift and viral. Taylor printed out all her roommates tweets about her and taped them up in their dorm. Then she snapped a photo of her depraved gallery wall and tweeted it herself. Bazinga: 80,000 retweets in one day.
There was, to be brief, a lot of alleged drama that followed: Taylor was harassed by her dorm floor neighbors and forced her roommate to sleep in another room. Oh, and the campus police came to her dorm for the second time in a week.
In a brief phone interview, Taylor told Fusion why she did what she did, why the police ended up intervening, and whether she'd do it again. The following transcript has been lightly edited and condensed.
Do you remember your first interaction with your roommate? Were you friends? Was it cordial?
No. Well, basically, I had an original roommate, but she ended up switching out. So [the roommate in question] became my new roommate. And from the beginning, I messaged her, and I was like, "We're going to be roommates!"
And then she was like "Oh, I want to be able to choose my roommate." Then, she was trying to get me moved out so she could have somebody else be her roommate or whatever, and I didn't want to. She talked to the RA about it, and she told me to move out on Monday, after she called the police on me.
At first, she was kinda nice, but soon, she started to get kind of mean and pissy at me. I'd be like, "How was your day?" And she'd just be like, "Good." She wouldn't talk to me.
So you suspected she didn't like you early on?
And then you came across those tweets just a couple of days ago?
What was your reaction?
Well, basically, I was really pissed off at first, so I texted her, and she didn't—she didn't really acknowledge that I had a problem with it, which was what led me to posting the tweets on the wall.
What was your thought process there?
I just wanted a way to acknowledge it, and acknowledge that it isn't right, which is why I posted it on the wall.
How did you think she was going to react?
I don't know! I kind of hoped she'd be upset. I wanted her to acknowledge what she did. I was upset, so I wanted her to be upset.
Did she see them on the wall before you tweeted them out?
You tweeted it out, and then it blew up, right?
Immediately, it blew up.
Why did the police end up coming?
When I got back to my dorm, there were people crowded outside my dorm yelling at me and calling me a bitch and knocking on my door. I felt like I was being harassed—it wasn't that I thought it was that serious. It was the RA that came, and recommended I [call the police].
And I wanted to feel like I could stay in the dorm, and not feel like I was being harassed.
When did you hear from your roommate?
I didn't talk to her until the police came, and then they made us sit down and talk to each other. I told her that she never told me she had a problem with me, and she told me that she did tell me that she had a problem with me. She said that she had told me to clean my sheets, and I didn't. And even if she did, she's not my mom.
What did the police end up doing?
Nothing. They just talked to the people on the floor.
Did you have friends on the floor backing you up?
No, I don't have friends on the floor. They're all friends with my roommate.
So what's the roommate situation right now?
I'm gonna move out, most likely.
Because you think it'll be too much tension?
Yeah. I'm gonna meet with [the school] tomorrow, and they're going to find me a room.
Has it been overwhelming?
Not really. I mean, a little, yeah. My phone's constantly blowing up.
Would you handle it the same way, if you could live it over again?
I don't know, I just feel like it made her really own up to her responsibility. And it made me feel good that I defended myself.
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.