The Black Yale graduate student who had the police called on her by a white student while she was napping wants the university to take official action against the woman.
In an interview with ABC News’ Good Morning America, Lolade Siyonbola, 34, said she first began recording her interaction with police for her own safety
“I have always said to myself since Sandra Bland was killed. I said to myself if I ever have an encounter with police I'll film myself,” she told GMA.
Siyonbola’s video showed her 20-minute interaction with Yale officers, who made her prove she was a student. In the beginning of the video, Siyonbola recorded the white woman, Sarah Braasch, while she called the authorities.
While working on a paper, Siyonbola had fallen asleep in her residence hall common room. During her nap, Braasch entered the common room and told her she could not sleep there.
“It had already been like a stressful week, you know, ahead of this,” Siyonbola told GMA. “I had barely been sleeping, so to sort of be on the couch and for the lights to come on, I was like, ‘Who is interrupting my nap?’ after all and to see that it was Sarah, of all people, because she had called the police on my friend before. I was just like, 'You've got to be kidding me.'
In the past, Braasch called the police on Jean-Louis Reneson, another Black graduate student at Yale, when he was lost in the residence hall stairwell. Siyonbola believes these incidents of racial bias should not go unpunished.
“Someone who uses the police in the way that Sarah uses it should be held accountable,” Siyonbola told GMA. “Whether that's expulsion [or] some other form of disciplinary action, there needs to be some punitive measures for people who act out of racially motivated bias.
“If there are punitive measures I think someone like Sarah will think twice about calling the police,” she added.
Siyonbola hopes her negative experience will force Yale to better the feeling of inclusivity on campus.
“There is a very small number of black faculty at Yale,” Siyonbola said. “And I think that that would go a long way to improving the inclusivity of the climate at Yale.”
Yale President Peter Salovey said the university is committed “to continuing the work of inclusion.”
“Racism is an unqualified evil in our society. Universities are not utopias, and people of color experience racism on our campus as they do elsewhere in our country. This fact angers and disappoints me,” Salovey said in a statement. “We must neither condone nor excuse racism, prejudice, or discrimination at Yale.
“Personally, recent events have led me to reflect in new ways on the ordinary daily actions each of us can take to show empathy, to see and understand what others are experiencing, and to combat hate and exclusion. I hope that you will do the same,” he added.