Lolade Siyonbola posted two videos on Facebook, of the encounter which took place on Monday at Yale’s Hall of Graduate Studies in its New Haven campus.
The episode has drawn thousands of comments across various social media platforms.
Siyonbola said she was working on a paper when she fell asleep in the common area, and the white student Sarah Braasch came in, turned on the lights and said: “You’re not supposed to be sleeping here. I’m going to call the police.”
She recorded her encounter with Braasch who she said told her “I have every right to call the police. You cannot sleep in that room.”
After the police arrived, Siyonbola asked them about the complaint and one of them said: “She called us (and) said there’s somebody who appeared they weren’t … where they were supposed to be.”
When they asked for Siyonbola’s ID, she said “I deserve to be here. I pay tuition like everybody else. I’m not going to justify my existence here.”
She showed the police she had the key to her room, and also unlocked it. Another officer told her afterwards: “You’re in a Yale building and we need to make sure that you belong here.”
She later showed them her ID.
Siyonbola was questioned for about 15 minutes, and according to New York Post, police said the encounter was prolonged because her name was not spelled correctly in a database of student information. This was after two more officers arrived following the confusion.
Watch abridged version of the videos below:
A black Yale student was interrogated by cops after falling asleep in the common room pic.twitter.com/rbktryaZXU
— All Def Nation (@alldefnation) May 9, 2018
CNN reports that Yale spokeswoman Karen Peart said the name on Siyonbola’s ID was her preferred name and not the same in the university records.
“We believe the Yale police who responded followed procedures. It is protocol in such circumstances for the police to ask for student (or staff) identification cards. Both students had to identify themselves.
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,” Peart said
Siyonbola added that the white student also “called the cops on my friend a few months ago for getting lost in my building.”
According to CNN, Kimberly Goff-Crews, Yale’s vice president for Student Life, in an email to students Wednesday night said she’s been “deeply troubled” by the incident.
Golf-Crews said that she’s discussing with campus police and other university staff “to better understand what exactly happened at HGS on Monday night, and how we can work together to avoid such incidents in the future.”