Winston-Salem State University Promises Safety On Campus After Black Student Is Arrested For Challenging White Professor In The Classroom

Black Student Arrested in HBCU Classroom Awaits School’s Decision

Administrators at Winston-Salem State University, an HBCU, have pledged to "bring a resolution" after a Black student was arrested in a white professor's classroom following a verbal altercation.

The Hill reports Chancellor, Elwood L. Robinson, said in a letter, “We understand that the weaponization of police is a prevalent problem in our community; however, that is not what happened in this incident.”

In the viral video taken with a classmate’s cellphone, 20-year-old student Leila Hamoud is seen being arrested by a pair of officers, one white and one Black. Hamoud can be heard yelling at a professor, identified by the Charlotte Observer as Cynthia Villagomez, saying, “I swear to God, I hate you. You’re the worst teacher ever, you get me taken out in handcuffs because I won’t apologize? Because I won’t apologize?”

According to the WSSU university faculty page, Villagomez is an assistant professor of history and Middle Eastern studies.

The student also stressed to the officers that she was not resisting arrest, pleading, “You’re hurting me really bad, please get off me.”

The professor is heard on the video explaining that she was trying to deescalate the situation. However, students in the video seem to agree with Hamoud, telling the professor she “escalated” things by yelling first and calling in the campus police.

Chancellor Robinson’s letter expressed to the campus body that the administration will come to a conclusion, but that it will take time. In the midst of it all, they support efforts towards a “safe, inclusive, thriving, and intellectual community where all our faculty, staff, and students feel respected and supported.”

He wrote, “We know this situation has caused a great deal of trauma to those involved and our campus community at large, but please know that every available resource is being extended to bring a resolution.”

A second video was posted after the incident in which Hamoud explained the events leading to her removal from the classroom. She said the class was assigned a group project that included writing a paper and creating a skit. Six hours before her group was to present its project, the professor told her the essay was “completely wrong” and needed to be redone even though it took her two weeks to complete. Hamoud said she knew she wouldn’t be able to redo the essay, but still attended class to present with her group so the team wouldn’t fail the assignment.

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Hamoud says the altercation began when she came into the classroom and spoke with members of her group.  According to Hamoud, the professor “was like [the essay] is wrong and you should redo it or it would impact my grade.” She continued, “She starts getting loud, yelling at me, telling me it’s her class so it doesn’t matter what I think... I got loud back, I was raising my voice, too.”

The teacher insisted that Hamoud leave the classroom, which Hamoud refused to do, arguing she did nothing wrong. Campus police were then called and the professor directed Hamoud either to apologize or be removed by the officers. Hamoud’s refusal caused the arrest and charge for disorderly conduct.

Winston-Salem State spokesperson Haley Gingles told CNN, the teacher is “very emotional and shaken by all of this. There have been several threats to her safety, which of course are cause for alarm.”

Robinson said while students want immediate answers, the university has to complete its own procedures for an investigation but promises a fair examination of what happened, writing, “the speed of our processes does not match the speed of social media... We do ask for your patience as we must take the necessary time to ensure the safety of everyone involved.”

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