Students are calling for Yale University to expel Sarah Braasch, the white student who called campus police on Lolade Siyonbola after she committed the unforgivable crime of napping in her own dormitory's common room.
Campus officers said they checked Siyonbola's ID against the university system and let her go, and later informed Braasch that her call was "not a police matter." But the late-night incident has set off a bigger conversation about what Yale alum and writer A.T. McWilliams called the "white space" of his alma mater. How many more police calls like those in the Philadelphia Starbucks and the California Airbnb have to happen before something fundamentally changes?
Siyonbola, a Black graduate student, said she thinks Braasch should be disciplined or expelled for wasting police resources — and many students and alums on Twitter agree, having started the hashtag #ExpelSarahBraasch.
"Someone who uses the police in the way that Sarah used the police should be held accountable," Siyonbola told Good Morning America. "There needs to be punitive measures for people who act out of racially motivated bias."
In an interview with CNN, Siyonbola also said she thinks the police officers wouldn't have detained her for as long — 15 minutes — if she were white, since she opened her apartment for them, making it clear that she lived in that dorm.
The Black Student Alliance at Yale issued a statement, warning that Braasch's decision to call the police "speaks to larger issues of defamation and over-policing within the Black community." The group added, "This is especially disheartening due to the role that she could play in an undergraduate’s academic career. As a PhD student, Braasch has the potential to be a teaching fellow, responsible for grading the work of undergraduate students. Who is to say that her prejudices would not influence her interactions with students of color within the classroom?"
Amanda Joyce Hall, a Black PhD candidate, wrote a letter to graduate school dean Lynn Cooley asking the administration "to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for racial policing that ends in the expulsion of the aggressors." She asked that Yale ban Braasch from graduate student housing and from teaching undergraduates.
"We will not continue to allow our bodies to be the target of white supremacist politics of discursive hatred, intolerance, and ignorance at a university whose commitment to us is only symbolic and for the brochures," she wrote.
Kimberly Goff-Crews, the school's vice president for student life, has said that the university is addressing the matter with various initiatives, including listening sessions and an app through which students can anonymously connect with Yale police.
We reached out to Sarah Braasch and Lolade Siyonbola and will update this story when we hear back.
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