‘Potter’ star Watson denies Brown bullying claims

Posted April 29, 2011, at 8:15 p.m.

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — Emma Watson, the British actress who plays Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” series, on Friday denied reports she was bullied out of Brown University — an assertion backed up by fellow students who said that, if anything, she was shielded from being singled out.

Watson said she’s not sure what her plans are for the fall semester, the beginning of her third year. Like many of her “fellow Brown students,” she wrote on her website, she is considering studying abroad.

“The reason I took a semester off from Brown had nothing to do with bullying,” Watson wrote. “I have never been bullied in my life and certainly never at Brown.”

Brown has not commented on media reports this month citing an anonymous Brown “insider” who claimed Watson was bullied out of school.

A New York Daily News article posted online April 21 claimed that when Watson responded correctly to questions in class, her classmates would shout, “Ten points for Gryffindor!” — a reference to the “Harry Potter” films, in which students’ dormitory houses are awarded points for questions they answer correctly. Watson’s character lives in Gryffindor.

“This ’10 points to Gryffindor’ incident never even happened,” wrote Watson, who has denied that rumor before. “Accusing Brown students of something as serious as bullying and this causing me to leave seems beyond unfair.”

The rumor that a student had once exclaimed “10 points for Gryffindor” after Watson answered a question correctly became widespread on campus in spring 2010, the semester during which it was alleged to have happened, according to several current and recent Brown students interviewed by The Associated Press.

But, they said, it was viewed as part of Brown folklore, and students were, if anything, protective of Watson.

“We try to take care of our own at Brown, and I think we try to make sure she feels like anybody else,” said Megan Estes, a third-year student who said she doesn’t know Watson but worked on the production of a campus theater production in which the “Harry Potter” star acted.

Apart from the Gryffindor comment, there was little sense on campus that Brown students heckled or antagonized Watson, said Estes and other students.

In class, students were respectful of Watson, said Bianca Dahl, a visiting professor who teaches a course on global humanitarian aid that Watson attended briefly at the start of the spring 2010 semester.

“There was an awareness of her, but in a protective way,” Dahl said. “I can’t fathom that faculty or students would allow bullying to happen.”

 

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