Police called on black student sleeping in Yale common room

New Haven

A black graduate student at Yale who fell asleep in a common area of her campus residence hall had police called on her and was questioned by officers for more than 15 minutes.

Lolade Siyonbola posted two videos of Monday’s encounter on her Facebook page, including part of a conversation with a white woman who told Siyonbola she was calling police after finding her in the room at Yale’s Hall of Graduate Studies.

The video appears to show police examining Siyonbola’s student identification card, then leaving after confirming she is a Yale student who is authorized to be in the building.

Reached by phone from Nigeria, Siyonbola gave News 8 permission to use the video.

A second black graduate student told News 8’s Mario Boone the same woman called police on her about a month earlier.  Reneson Jean-Louis said he was in the Hall of Graduate Studies for a meeting when the woman confronted him.

“You’re making me uncomfortable.  I don’t feel safe around you.  You’re an intruder.  You need to leave, you need to get out,” he said the woman screamed at him.  Jean-Louis said there have been similar cases like this on Yale’s campus that need to be addressed.  “This is, again, a blatant case of racial profiling that needs to be addressed at Yale University-wide,” said Jean-Louis.

Jean-Louis said no one from Yale University leadership, including campus police, has reached out to him to apologize.

The Yale Daily News reports (https://bit.ly/2Is0ME5) that graduate students received an email Tuesday from Lynn Cooley, the dean of Yale’s graduate school of arts and sciences, inviting them to share their concerns about the incident.

A Yale spokesman issued the following statement to us: “A resident of the building called police to report that a person she did not know was sleeping in the common room. Police responded, but they were able to verify that the person about whom they received the call was a student and a resident who had every right to be in the common room. We believe the Yale police who responded followed procedures. As we do with every incident, we will be reviewing the call and the response of the police officers. Our officers are professionals who take great pride in working for Yale. They are trained on unconscious bias, de-escalation techniques, and problem solving, and seek to treat each individual with respect.” 

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