Nearly 3,000 people have signed a petition demanding that Yale remove Sarah Braasch GRD ’20 from school as punishment for calling the police on a black graduate student who was napping in the Hall of Graduate Studies common room.
A video of Braasch confronting the black student, Lolade Siyonbola GRD ’19, in HGS went viral earlier this month, generating headlines around the world. The petition also notes an earlier incident in which Braasch called the police on a different black graduate student who was lost in HGS at the time. And it refers to an article Braasch wrote for Daylight Atheism in 2011 titled “Be Careful What You Wish For (Why I Hate Hate Crimes Legislation, But I Love Hate Speech).”
“We call on Yale’s President Peter Salovey, Dean Cooley of Yale’s Graduate School of Arts & Science, and Yale University Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Goff-Crews, to remove Braasch from Yale because her stated philosophy is one that violates the moral and intellectual codes of the university; because her multiple counts of harassment and racism against other students violates the safety of students of color,” reads the petition. “Students of color at Yale should not be re-traumatized by seeing Braasch on campus this fall. We also insist on a mental health evaluation for Braasch so that she can be prevented from doing harm to herself or others.”
Braasch, Siyonbola, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean Lynn Cooley and Vice President for Communications Eileen O’Connor did not respond to requests for comments.
A coalition of black graduate and professional students, including Siyonbola, has also released an open letter separate from the petition calling for Yale administrators to implement a “university-wide comprehensive plan for dismantling white supremacy, structural racism, racial policing, and racial aggression at Yale and in the city of New Haven, to be implemented over the course of three academic years.”
Siyonbola has posted about both the petition and open letter on Facebook, condemning Yale for not directly criticizing Braasch’s actions or the police officers who questioned Siyonbola for roughly 15 minutes after she was reported. In emails to the Yale community, University administrators have said they were “troubled” by the incident and noted that police officers “admonished” Braasch for calling the cops on a student who was entitled to be in HGS. Administrators have previously declined to comment on Braasch’s disciplinary status, citing confidentiality rules.
The open letter lists nine specific recommendations, including the creation of a Title VI Racial Discrimination and Harassment Office to replace the current Committee on Racial and Ethnic Harassment, which the letter says lacks the “structure or resources to adequately address this issue.”
Other recommendations include a University-wide curricular and teaching requirement focused on the history of racial violence in the United States for graduate students; a zero-tolerance stance on racial harassment; a rule prohibiting Yale police officers from bringing guns to non-violent disputes on campus; the recognition of the Graduate Students of Color Coalition, which was recently revived by Siyonbola and other students, as a body on par with the school’s official student council, the Graduate Student Assembly; and several other initiatives calling for Yale to admit and hire more people of color.
“For students of color, we require at least a 50% increase in Black and Native students who are descendants of chattel slavery or settler colonialism in the United States, followed by those who are descendants of chattel slavery in the Caribbean and the Americas, and finally those who are current or former subjects of Western imperialism across the African continent, for all of whom tuition is free,” the letter states.
Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the possibility of disarming Yale police officers in certain situations.
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