Yale Police officers on Monday evening interrogated a black graduate student, Lolade Siyonbola GRD ’19, for more than 15 minutes, after a white graduate student reported Siyonbola to the police for sleeping in the HGS common room.
“You’re in a Yale Building and we need to make sure that you belong here,” one of the officers said to Siyonbola, according to a video of the incident Siyonbola posted to Facebook.
The incident gained significant traction on social media after Siyonbola posted two videos on Facebook on early Tuesday morning — one of her interactions with the white student and another of her interactions with the police. As of Tuesday evening, a video showing her interacting with police has garnered more than 324,000 views, 5,300 reactions, and 9,000 comments. Over 6,000 people have shared it. In the video, Siyonbula accused the police of harassing her.
“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 on video after she was asked to “sit tight” while they verified her student information. “I am not going to be harassed.”
A YPD supervisor told Siyonbola in the video that the investigation into her student status was “protocol.”
According to the police officers in the video, Siyonbola’s name was not spelled correctly in a database of student information used by YPD, leading to confusion about her status as a student
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean Lynn Cooley sent an email to all PhD and masters students in the Graduate School on Tuesday evening emphasizing the importance of inclusivity and inviting students to share their comments and concerns in light of the incident.
“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.”
Siyonbola did not immediately respond to request for comment on Tuesday night. Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Britton O’Daly | firstname.lastname@example.org