Yale University Police Department Called On Black Student Napping In The Common Area Of Her Own Dorm

Douglas HealeyAP Images

A racially charged incident on the Yale University campus is drawing attention after police were called on a black student who fell asleep in the common area of the dorm where she lived.

The incident happened this week on the Ivy League college campus and went viral after the black student, Lolade Siyonbola, posted a 17-minute recording of the encounter she had with police. As the New York Times noted, the incident comes amid growing racial tensions nationally and a series of similar police incidents involving black people.

Siyonbola said she was working on a “marathon of papers” on Monday when she decided to take a short nap to recharge. At close to 1:30 a.m., a white student turned on the light and told Siyonbola that she was not allowed to sleep in the common area, then called the Yale University police.

Officers questioned Siyonbola about whether she was authorized to be in the common area and asked to see her identification. The officers could not immediately verify her identification, and Siyonbola questioned why she needed to prove she could be there.

“I am not going to justify my existence here,” she said.

As CNN noted, this is the latest in a series of incidents involving questionable police responses to black people who have committed no crimes. Last month, police in Philadelphia arrested two black men waiting for an acquaintance in a Starbucks. The men were charged with loitering, and later settled with the city for $1 and a promise to set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs.

In another incident, staff at a golf course in Pennsylvania called police on a group of black women who they said were playing too slowly. As CNN noted, it was the first game for the woman as members of the Grandview Golf course. A man who was playing behind the women said it was unusual that they have five people rather than the standard four, but said the group did not slow him down in any way.

The Yale University Police Department has stood behind the officers who responded to the black student sleeping in her dorm common area, saying they were following proper protocol. A spokesperson noted that it common to ask for identification from students, and that the process took longer for Lolade Siyonbola because she used her preferred name on her ID card rather than the name the university had on file.