College freshmen Colin Warren, Joseph Bomgardner and Logan Beaschler, who are all 18, are charged with a hate crime. Those charges could put them behind bars for a year.
The three have been suspended but have not been arrested. That's because campus police are waiting for them to surrender.
Students rallied after hearing that an African American freshman at San Jose State was supposedly harassed and bullied for months by his roommates.
"It's sad to know that there are people out there who still have that mentality and think that minorities are less than them and just because of the color of their skin," student Pedro Medina said.
Officials say that between Aug. 20 and Oct. 13 this year, the three defendants lived with the then 17-year-old black student, also a freshman, and four other white male students in an eight-person suite.
According the district attorney's office, the black student was constantly taunted. And at one point they say his roommates placed a "U" shaped bike lock on his neck and refused to give him the key for five to 10 minutes before finally letting him out
"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.
West adds that the three defendants allegedly called their black roommate "three-fifths" and "fraction" and put up a Confederate flag in the campus suite they shared.
"Three-fifths" is a reference to the fraction the U.S. Census used to count black slaves in the South in the 18th and early 19th centuries for the purpose of representation in Congress.
It was the student's parents who, in late October, reported this behavior to the housing authorities who then notified campus police. The students have been suspended for the time being, pending the outcome of this investigation.
"This is pretty outrageous, it's sad," said William Nance, VP of Student Affairs. "It's, in my words, disgusting. It's behavior that's shocking to see that still occurs in 2013."
Some students say it took too long for the university to react to these allegations.
"They feel like, 'okay basically you all are here on charity to begin with, so whatever issue that happens just be lucky that you are here,'" student Champagne Ellison said.
West says prosecutors decided to file the hate crime charge "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."
All three of the defendants were 18 during the time of the incidents and the victim was still a juvenile at 17, although he has since turned 18.
The African American student is still living on campus.
(Bay City News contributed to this report)