Updated: Thursday, May 10, 2018, 8:20 a.m. EDT: The Yale Daily News has identified the white grad student who called the cops on a black classmate as Sarah Braasch.
The campus paper also sheds more light on an earlier incident when Braasch called campus police on the same classmate, Lolade Siyonbola, and another black grad student, Jean-Louis Reneson.
In a complaint submitted to campus administrators in March by Reneson and Siyonbola, the students describe organizing a small group to meet in a Hall of Graduate Studies common room. According to the complaint, Reneson got lost in the HGS building and was physically blocked by Braasch from entering the common room after he asked her for directions.
When Reneson told Braasch he was a Yale student trying to meet up with his group, she accused of him of being an intruder, telling him that he “didn’t belong [there]” and was making her “uncomfortable.”
Braasch eventually left the area and Reneson met up with his group, only to have four campus police officers show up because someone had reported a “suspicious character” on their floor.
According to the complaint, once Reneson established that he was a Yale student, the police left.
Braasch is a philosophy Ph.D. candidate who has studied gender and law, according to Yale’s website, and who has expressed civil rights and human rights as interests in her LinkedIn profile. Braasch has not responded to The Root’s request for comment.
Following the most recent incident of Braasch calling the cops on a fellow student, Yale sent another email to graduate and professional-school students Wednesday night calling the events of this week “deeply troubling.”
In the statement, University Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews also emphasized that Yale police “admonished the complaining student that the other student had every right to be present.”
She wrote that she and other campus administrators, including Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins, plan to hold listening sessions with students in the near future to avoid something similar from happening again.
Over the past week, we at The Root have added hashtags to various incidents of racial bias that have crossed our radars. There was #MovingInWhileBlack, #BlackWhileAirbnb-ing and #CouponingWhileBlack. #DiningWhileBlack, frankly, has too many examples for us to enumerate, and just today, Wednesday, we ran a story about a couple being denied a money order—with cash in hand—while black.
Now it looks like #NappingWhileBlack can be added to the list.
On Monday, a black graduate student at Yale was interrogated by police for 15 minutes after a white grad student reported her for napping in a common room.
As the Yale Daily News reports, Lolade Siyonbola says she was napping in a common room in the Hall of Graduate Studies when she was confronted by a white female grad student who told her she couldn’t sleep there.
The white Yale student then called campus police.
Siyonbola captured a brief video showing the tail end of her interaction with the white grad student.
After snapping a few photos of Siyonbola, the woman tells her, “I have every right to call the police; you cannot sleep in that room.”
“Continue,” an exasperated-sounding Siyonbola says as she waits for an elevator. “Get my good side.”
Moments later, alone in the elevator with the video still running, Siyonbola says, “I’m going to start another video when the cops get here. Hopefully they do come.”
In the Facebook post, Siyonbola says that the white grad student had called the cops on a friend of hers earlier in the year for getting lost in her building.
A second video, this time of Siyonbola’s interaction with the cops, shows her opening the door to her own dorm room to prove to campus police that she lives in the building. Still, the police request her school identification card, which Siyonbola reluctantly gives. Because her name was entered incorrectly into a student database, it takes more than 15 minutes to verify that Siyonbola is a Yale student.
“We need to make sure you belong here,” one cop tells her.
“I deserve to be here,” Siyonbola says. “I paid tuition like everybody else.”
The videos went viral on Yale’s campus, prompting Dean of Graduate School of the Arts and Sciences Lynn Cooley to send an email to all postgraduate students Tuesday night stressing Yale’s “inclusivity” and opening up lines of dialogue with students.
From the Yale Daily News:
“Incidents like that of last night remind us of the continued work needed to make Yale a truly inclusive place,” Cooley wrote. “I am committed to redoubling our efforts to build a supportive community in which all graduate students are empowered in their intellectual pursuits and professional goals within a welcoming environment. An essential part of that effort must be a commitment to mutual respect and an open dialog.”
In the meantime, Yale PD defended its officers, saying that they followed “protocol.”