Yale University claims it is committed to “maintaining an inclusive community of scholars.” However, there’s a glaring error in its practices when a white graduate student is either ill prepared or unwilling to live in a diverse and inclusive environment and continues to call the authorities on Black students.
Sarah Braasch reported Lolade Siyonbola, who is Black and also a graduate student, to Yale Police officers on Monday because Siyonbola fell asleep in the Hall of Graduate studies common room.
Police interrogated Siyonbola for more than 15 minutes. She showed the officers her room key and eventually went to her room to produce her student ID to confirm she is a Yale student who lives in the building.
Authorities said the interrogation took long because her last name was misspelled in the student database. Siyonbola wound up being penalized because she doesn’t have a typical American last name — so much for inclusiveness.
On Tuesday, Siyonbola, who will graduate in 2019, according to the
Yale Daily News, posted two videos on her Facebook account that detailed portions of her ordeal.
“I deserve to be here; I paid tuition like everybody else; I am not going to justify my existence here,” Siyonbola told one of the police officers in the video while waiting for them to verify her student information. “I am not going to be harassed.”
A Yale Police supervisor told Siyonbola it was “protocol” to look into her student status.
In another video post, Siyonbola said that Braasch, a philosophy Ph.D. student, “called the cops on my friend a few months ago for getting lost in my building. Today she messed — again — with the wrong one.”
“I have every right to call the police,” Braasch said to Siyonbola, who was filming her. “You cannot sleep in that room.”
The Ivy League university, located in New Haven, Conn., said the incident is “deeply troubling” in an email to graduate and professional school students on Wednesday. And it’s committed to addressing incidents of “racial bias, discrimination and harassment.” The email also said the Yale Police “admonished the complaining student [Braasch] that the other student [Siyonbola] had every right to be present.”
The university has a vague message about inclusion on its website:
“Yale is committed to maintaining an inclusive community of scholars that celebrates people with a variety of backgrounds and beliefs.”
Yale’s undergraduate population — which consists of more than 5,000 students — is 47 percent white, 7 percent Black, 17 percent Asian, 11 percent Hispanic and 6 percent two or more races. There’s low socioeconomic diversity at 13 percent.
The university has an Office for Graduate Student Development, which is said to “proactively recruit and support the needs of diverse students as they pursue graduate study at Yale.”
But is it fostering an environment of inclusiveness in the process
It seems that Siyonbola has found a support system on her own — Black graduate students at Yale.
“[The] Black Yale community is beyond incredible and is taking good care of me,” she wrote on Facebook. “I know this incident is a drop in the bucket of trauma Black folk have endured since Day 1 America, and you all have stories.”