The Department of African American Studies received a hate call yesterday, leading African American Studies Department Chair and English professor Jacqueline Goldsby GRD ’98 to pursue additional security around the department’s building.
In a 3 p.m. email Thursday, Goldsby informed the department’s faculty and students that a member of the department’s administrative staff had received a hate call on the department’s main phone line and had immediately reported it to the Yale Police Department. Goldsby encouraged staff to go home as she worked with YPD Chief Ronnell Higgins to plan building security measures. In an email to the Yale community late Thursday night, Higgins said Yale Police has added patrols while the investigation of the phone call continues.
Goldsby told the News Thursday night that the call was “very disturbing, violent and racist,” and said the department contacted the police in order to protect the department’s faculty, staff and students, as well as other Yale affiliates who use the building for academic purposes. Despite the scare, Goldsby emphasized that classes and other academic appointments will continue as usual in the coming days.
“We absolutely must be vigilant in this moment,” Goldsby wrote in her email. “Nothing is more important than our safety.”
Goldsby told the News that the administrative assistant received the hate call at 1:07 p.m. and immediately alerted Goldsby and the YPD. Assistant Chief of Yale Police Michael Patten said the phone call was truly concerning. The YPD is investigating and taking appropriate precautions, he wrote in an email to the News.
Goldsby said she was especially concerned because this is not the first time the department has received phone calls of this sort.
In October 2013, the words “Race War Now” were found graffitied on a bathroom wall in the African American Studies department. Goldsby said based on past experience, involving the police was the appropriate decision so that students and faculty can use the building for learning and thinking without worrying about their safety.
According to History, American Studies and African American Studies professor Glenda Gilmore, Goldsby has been in close touch with the faculty and staff and informed them that they will be able to conduct their teaching as usual in the coming days.
The call comes at a time of heightened racial tensions at universities across the nation. In the wake of a string of student rallies calling on universities to address systemic racism, the national media has reported multiple threats to black students and faculty. On Wednesday, a white college student was arrested in Missouri for allegedly posting online threats to shoot black students and faculty at the University of Missouri. Yesterday, students at Howard University received a death threat from an anonymous student at the University of Missouri. Howard University officials have said that they are working with campus, local and federal law enforcement on the matter.