Editor’s Note: Information in this story about Sophia Rosing’s arrest has been corrected.
The University of Kentucky desk clerk who was verbally and physically attacked during a racial tirade by another student last month told CBS Mornings that she wasn’t surprised the incident occurred but it opened her eyes to the frequency of racism in America.
In the early hours of November 6, Sophia Rosing, a former UK student, was reported to have entered Boyd Residence Hall and physical attack and use racist slurs towards Kylah Spring, a Black student desk clerk. After police arrived, Rosing continued using slurs, resisting arrest and bit a police officer, authorities have said.
Rosing was arrested and faces five criminal charges. She is no longer enrolled at UK, has been banned from campus and is not allowed to re-enroll, the university said last month.
Videos of the incident went viral on social media, and Spring and her mother were interviewed about the experience by Gayle King, Tony Dokoupil and Nate Burleson on Wednesday.
When Rosing began attacking her, Spring told the hosts she thought, “I know the drill.”
“I was raised to act a certain way if I encounter a racial attack or assault,” Spring said Wednesday. “But I also was very disheartened that it happened to me while I was working. I really just wanted to make sure I acted appropriately so that I could keep my job, because the script could have been flipped if I had retaliated.”
Spring said she was later told that Rosing used a racist slur over 200 times in about 10 minutes. Spring said “there is an opportunity for growth in this situation.”
“This is an opportunity for not just her, to grow and educate herself, but people who might have acted similarly or think similarly to her,” Spring said.
Referencing the march against racism that took place at UK after the attack, Spring said she felt “a part of something bigger than myself.” Spring said she was amazed by the support she received from fellow students.
When asked by King how the incident has changed her, Spring said it opened her eyes to how often racist incidents occur.
“It’s changed my outlook on how often that situations like this happen,” Spring said. “Obviously I’ve seen things like this in the news, but you never really know how common of an occurrence it is until it happens to you. It was a little bit of an eye-opening moment for me to wake up and realize what’s happening in our country to young children of color, to people of color.”
King praised Spring for her response, saying she embodied the Michelle Obama quote “When they go low, we go high.”
Spring also used that quote last month when speaking at the march on campus.
Spring’s mother, Betsy, appeared alongside her Wednesday. While she was initially hesitant for her daughter to speak out about the incident and wanted protect her daughter, Betsy Spring said she realized it needed to be shared.
“I knew that there are rumors,” Betsy Spring said. “There’s a lot shared about racism in the South, and how people respond. There’s been some ugliness that has brewed in our country in the last few years that makes you aware that racism is still alive, and I was just afraid of what that would look like to my daughter in 2022.”
When asked by Burleson to respond to people who questioned why her daughter wouldn’t physically fight back, Betsy Spring said “you can fight back, but not with violence.”
“Love is an appropriate way to fight back,” Spring said. “Respect, honor and grace is also fighting back. It’s not bowing down in a way that is weak. It’s bowing down in a way that honors who you are and the truth and the integrity, your character and who God created you to be.”