Report finds race profiling did not occur

Yale University library staff did not racially profile a library employee last month, according to a report released Tuesday following a three-day investigation by Yale’s Office for Equal Opportunity Programs, library and Local 34 union officials said.

University Librarian Alice Prochaska said the report’s conclusions reaffirmed her previous refusal to apologize for the incident — as requested by union officials — since racial profiling by library staff did not occur. Although the union still has yet to issue an official response, library employee Bernard Rogers, who said he was the victim of profiling when managers called the Yale Police Department for suspected drug activity, said he still feels library managers profiled him.

“I don’t think the University will ever say that one of their managers was profiling — I think this is the most that we’re probably going to get,” Rogers said. “If this is as much as we can do, I’ll take that [and] I’ll be fine.”

Office for Equal Opportunity Programs Director Valarie Stanley could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The controversy began Oct. 23 when a library manager spotted Rogers, who is black, exchanging cash and a car key with a friend outside of Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library and notified Rogers’ supervisors that she may have witnessed a drug transaction. The supervisors then informed the YPD, and an officer confronted Rogers when he was working outside the Social Sciences Library.

Local 34 called upon Prochaska last week to rescind disciplinary charges against Rogers stemming from the incident, to publicly clear Rogers’ name, to undertake a review of management sensitivity training and to apologize to Rogers. Whether Local 34 will revoke, renew or alter its demands is uncertain as of now, as the union has yet to deliver an official reply acknowledging or contesting the report’s findings.

Union officials could not be reached for further comment Tuesday afternoon and evening.

In a mass e-mail to library employees on Friday, Prochaska said the police report documenting the Oct. 23 incident cleared Rogers of any suspicion, and that an Office for Equal Opportunity Programs investigation had concluded racial profiling played no role that day. As a result of a few meetings last week between Prochaska, human resources officials and Local 34 leaders, library administrators rescinded two disciplinary charges filed against Rogers for missing two work days following the incident, library employee and Local 34 steward Richard Horn said.

But aside from the discipline retraction and the mass e-mail, library administrators have not acceded to the union’s demands for a review of management sensitivity training and for the manager who reported suspicious activity to undergo such training again, Prochaska said. Next year, library staff will undergo a new round of diversity training sponsored by the library’s Diversity Council, but Prochaska said the council had planned for the training before the incident occurred.

“I think it’s important for library management and the union, going forward, to produce some kind of partnership statement,” Prochaska said. “It’s very important that we should all be aware of how much we value tolerance and fairness in the workplace.”

In addition to disagreeing on whether racial profiling occurred, library administrators and union members have not seen eye-to-eye on whether more communication could have occurred in the moments and weeks following the incident. Since rallying in front of Sterling Memorial Library last Monday, union members and supporters have publicly criticized Rogers’ supervisors for not approaching Rogers before calling the police. They said they were dismayed that Prochaska had only learned about the racial profiling implications of the incident four weeks after the union reported the incident to the library’s human resources department.

Prochaska said she knew about the incident shortly after it occurred, but the version of the story she heard made no mention of racial profiling. The union could have approached her with their concerns immediately following the incident, she said, rather than letting the issue “fester for weeks.”

Horn said the union only decided to speak to Prochaska after receiving little response from the library’s human resources department. Within weeks of the incident, an Equal Opportunity Programs representative contacted by the union also suggested that Rogers file a complaint to stimulate an investigation, Horn said.

Union leaders did not pursue the option, he said, since they felt Prochaska had the power to resolve the problem quickly. Horn said in an interview before the investigation’s conclusion that such an investigation could take up to 180 days to reach its conclusions, but Prochaska said she finds the argument difficult to believe because last week’s Equal Opportunity Programs investigation took just three days.

Prochaska said she asked the Office for Equal Opportunity Programs to investigate the matter within days of hearing about the racial profiling allegations Nov. 21. She said she informed the union of the investigation last Monday and arranged with the union to go over the results of the investigation on Friday.

By informing the police, Prochaska said, Rogers’ supervisors were acting according to University protocol, which requires staff to report any suspicious activity potentially involving drugs or weapons to the Yale Police Department. But while library staff may have been following the rules, Rogers said, he said supervisors could have asked him for an explanation before making the police call. Because of his 26 years of employment with the University dating back to his high school days, Rogers said he thinks he deserved more courtesy from his supervisor.

“If [my supervisor and the human resources director] felt that my answer wasn’t the one they were looking for, they could’ve taken it a step further, but they didn’t give me that courtesy,” he said. “This whole thing could’ve been avoided easily with just management and clerical workers talking together.”

A few days following the incident, Rogers took a day off because he was angry to the point of being unfit to work, he said. Although he mentioned suffering trauma from the events of Oct. 23 to his supervisors, he said, the day off earned him an oral warning, and a written warning came a week later when he took an emergency day off after his car broke down.

The discipline retractions announced Friday were related to factors preceding Oct. 23 and had “absolutely nothing to do with the suspicions reported in the other case,” Prochaska said. She declined to elaborate further on the reasons for the discipline retractions, saying it is improper for an employer to comment on an employee’s private discipline matters.

“I would much rather that we continue our partnership in the union,” Prochaska said. “We had an independent inquiry carried out for this particular case [by] the Director of Equal Opportunity — by the way, she is African-American, and so is the director of human resources — [and] they were both satisfied that this was not a case of racial profiling.”

Hugh Baran ’09, who rallied with the union in front of the library last Monday to call on Prochaska to respond to the union’s demands, said because he had not seen the Equal Opportunity Programs report, the conclusion did not change his opinion of whether racial profiling occurred Oct. 23. He said he is astounded by the administration’s racism denial and that the University cannot isolate the incident from a greater societal pattern of racism.

Rogers said the Oct. 23 fallout stemmed from an employer-employee divide, in addition to racial profiling.

“My experience here at Yale is management sticks together, whether you’re black, white, any nationality — management is management,” he said. “I feel like it was that manager profiling and then management just sticking together, not wanting to go against one another.”

Rogers said he will be satisfied with whatever results the union is able to achieve, but for now is taking extra care to do his job correctly because he is worried he has been put under greater scrutiny as a result of the situation.

Asked whether he sees himself continuing his employment with Yale’s library, he leaned back and revealed the graying whiskers peppering his chin.

“Rest of my life,” he said. “That’s what I plan on — being here until I retire.”

Comments

  • Anonymous

    of course it didnt, alice. of course it didnt.

  • Anonymous

    Well I'm glad to see Yale's management knows how to exonerate itself.

  • Anonymous

    precisely.

    i feel sorry for the guy in the middle of all this. and he still has to go into work, day in, day out, with a manager or co-worker who dont trust him.

    this is very sad.

  • Anonymous

    What would profiling even mean in this context? Is anyone saying that the library staff/management actually discussed among themselves that they should report this employee because of his race? If anything occured, it would have been unconscious, i.e., the employee who saw him and assumed drugs may not have made that assumption if Rogers had been white, but he did not consciously make a racial association. This is NOT racial profiling, but it may still call for an apology.

  • Anonymous

    This has absolutely nothing to do with race, it was just bad judgment by the library employee/manager. The library should apologize and tell Rogers that they shouldn't have called the police when they had so little reason to suspect illegal behavior, especially if Rogers probably had been working at the library longer than the manager. The library also shouldn't have given him such a hard time the next day if he wanted to take the day off. I am white and I would have been upset if it had happened to me too. But people really need to stop making everything about race, this just gets old.