Yale’s reaction to the recent harassment of Lolade Siyonbola, GRD ’19, is beyond disappointing.
Ms. Siyonbola’s harasser, Sarah Braasch, GRD ’20, had previously called police on another student without cause. One can make reasonable inference of racial bias in both cases.
Graduate School Dean Lynn Cooley responded by stating her “commitment to mutual respect and an open dialogue.”
This response comes from a framework which assumes racism is a matter of internal bias that conversation can resolve. It is clear this framework is false. We now have decades of evidence that talk alone cannot dismantle communal discrimination.
We need proactive policy to protect the safety of students of color.
Professor Jason Johnson (Morgan State) recently noted how White people frequently use the police to enforce unconscious biases. (Johnson, Jason, “From Starbucks to Hashtags”, The Root, April 16, 2018)
We do so because we face no repercussions for such actions.
Therefore, Yale University should undertake a policy to review emergency calls to the police, and apply appropriate disciplinary action in the case of abusive use.
I expect critics of this idea might assert that such a policy could have a chilling effect on legitimate use of emergency response systems. There may be truth to such concern.
But this possibility should be weighed against the evident reality that unregulated use of police response systems is having a chilling effect on the lives of students of color, right now.
Peter Schell, ES ’02