UPDATED 4:53 p.m. EDT, May 11 –
After national outrage over an incident involving a White Yale University graduate student calling campus police on her Black classmate for sleeping, the school’s president has defended the African-American student.
“[Lolade Siyonbola] had every right” to be there,” Yale President Peter Salovey wrote late Thursday in a letter to students according to the Harford Courant.
Several people across social media were outraged when Siyonbola posted two videos to Facebook early Tuesday of her encounter with Yale police. Sarah Braasch, a graduate student who is part of the 2020 class, called the cops on Siyonbola, who will graduate in 2019 class, on Monday. Officers questioned the African-American graduate student for 15 minutes, claiming that they couldn’t verify that she was a student.
After the encounter, a previous incident involving Braasch calling the cops also came to light. Reneson Jean-Louis, a second Black Yale student who attends the campus Divinity School, shared a story on Facebook about the young woman having informed police of his presence when he went to meet Siyonbola back in February. Braasch tried to block his entrance into the common room of a graduate student building, as well as questioned him about why he was there and said that he didn’t belong there, he said in a social media post.
Siyonbola later met up with Jean-Louis who recounted the strange exchange with Braasch to her. Leaving Jean-Louis to run downstairs, Siyonbola ran into police officers who she believed were called by Braasch on her friend. The cops said they received a call about a “suspicious” person in the building at the time.
Jean-Louis and Siyonbola sent a complaint to the university’s associate dean of development and diversity after that incident.
UPDATED 3:20 p.m. EDT, May 10 –
Yale University officials have responded to the incident involving a graduate student who called the campus cops on her Black classmate for sleeping in a dorm common room on Monday.
The incident was “deeply troubling,” University Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly M. Goff-Crews wrote in an email Wednesday sent to graduate and professional students. Yale also affirmed its commitment to addressing incidents of “racial bias, discrimination and harassment,” the Yale Daily News reported.
The White graduate student who called the cops on a Black classmate was also identified as Sarah Braasch, who is part of the 2020 class. Lolade Siyonbola, who is part of the 2019 class, was met by cops called by Braasch. Officers interrogated Siyonbola for 15 minutes and ran her ID as they claimed that they couldn’t verify her name in the Yale student database. Siyonbola posted two videos of the horrible #NappingWhileBlack incident, including her exchange with Braasch and the officers, on Facebook early Tuesday morning.
Outrage has been stirred by the incident for being an example of how law enforcement is easily called on people of color.
The school also vowed to hold listening sessions with students in upcoming days and months to help prevent similar incidents in the future. However, more must be done as concerns were been raised about more possible police-involved incidents with Black students at Yale.
There’s dining while Black, shopping while Black and now napping while Black.
On Monday (May 7), a White Yale graduate student apparently believed sleeping was criminal activity when it came to her African-American classmate, the Yale Daily News reported. The sounds of someone napping in a dorm common room were so offensive to her that she thought the only thing to do was summon campus police to the scene. Wow. Jaw dropped.
It surely takes some racist audacity to report a classmate of color for sleeping, which is one of the most natural things that a human being can do. Who knew that you could close your eyes in a public place and wake up to the picture of cops hovering over you? Who knew sleeping wasn’t safe with Brown skin? Lolade Siyonbola, the sleeping graduate student whose age was not disclosed, most likely received the shock of a lifetime.
Siyonbola knew the standard thing to do in these situations: break out your cell phone and start recording. She posted footage early Tuesday morning of her interaction with the privileged student, who was not identified, as well as with the cops who interrogated her for a good 15 minutes. Why so long? Her name was misspelled in the Yale student database, according to the Yale News. Really?
Of course, this craziness at the predominately White school went viral.
Students began debating whether this was an incident of racial discrimination and harassment. Clearly, it must be.
For one, the student who called the cops had previously committed a racist infraction, according to Siyonbola. She called campus police after one of the Siyonbola’s friends got lost in her building months ago, the student said in one video.
Secondly, the police-happy student felt justified using her privilege to burn her Black classmate. She told Siyonbola, “I have every right to call the police” in one video. Really, again?
Thirdly, the cops didn’t believe that Siyonbola was a Yale student. They ran her ID as if she were a criminal or trespasser, and she actually had to tell them that she belonged at the school. They said they couldn’t verify her as a student because of her name being misspelled in the school database.
It’s important to note that Yale students are 52 percent White and about 8 percent African-American, according to College Data.
The school unsurprisingly defended the officers’ actions as only following protocol. Let’s be clear here: Racism should never be part of the protocol.