Yale has committed to new initiatives and outlined its next steps to make the university more inclusive and to prevent unnecessary racial profiling after a black student had police called on her and was questioned longer than usual for sleeping in a dorm common area.
“Together with other university leaders, I have been meeting with groups of students to hear you relate your experiences and ideas for action,” University Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews told the Yale Daily News.
“I am compiling the various suggestions you are offering. I will review these with colleagues over the summer, and look forward to announcing next steps.”
Goff-Crews sent a campus-wide email and admitted that the four officers who questioned the Black student Lolade Siyonbola for 15 minutes took “longer than usual to identify the student.” She blamed the lengthy interrogation on the school’s new preferred name policy, which “allows students to choose a preferred first name for certain University systems.”
Yale said it will train police dispatchers on how to identify students more quickly.
Even though Siyonbola showed police the key to her room, they still interrogated her for a good 20 minutes, she said.
The white woman who instigated the 911 call, Sarah Braasch, has a history of harassing Black students.
The University also plans an upcoming retreat where they will discuss equity and inclusion programming with the Advisory Committee on Student Life.
She said she plans to talk with a variety of faculty members and administrators about diversity. She also wants the Dean’s Designees to be more visible since they are the first line of defense for students if they face discrimination or harassment on campus.
Yale did not discuss what consequences Braasch would face “as per federal law and the University’s commitment to student confidentiality.”
Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Lynn Cooley also sent an email to graduate students stating:
“I have received hundreds of emails from people both on and off campus expressing deep concerns about last week’s incident,” she wrote. “As painful and difficult as it was, the attention to the events at HGS gives us an opportunity to examine our processes and policies.”
The school will have listening sessions and meetings about diversity and inclusion in the near future.