Sleeping Student “Harassed” For Valid ID

FacebookThe cops asked the black student why she had an “expired” Yale ID.

They didn’t ask the white student that.

Neither one had an expired ID.

Yale ID cards don’t have expiration dates on them.

But the cops acted properly.

Such was Yale University’s official position Thursday as its police force’s handling of a complaint about an African-American graduate student sleeping in a common room of her own dormitory exploded into a national debate over race and policing.

Yale officials also defended the tactics of a police supervisor who argued with the African-American student that she wasn’t being “harassed,” an approach that differs from some other police approaches to de-escalating, rather than escalating, tense situations.

“The officers didn’t do anything wrong,” university spokeswoman Eileen O’Connor told the Independent when asked about the handling of the ID and the “harassment” arguments.

O’Connor acknowledged that two officers who dealt with the African-American student incorrectly concluded that she had an expired ID when they mistook a date printed for the card’s issuance as an expiration date. She said that the university is taking steps in light of this incident to remind all public safety workers that ID cards show issuance dates, not expiration dates; and to figure out a technological fix for a second cause of the delay in wrapping up this incident, involving Yale’s computer system and students’ registered “preferred names.”

The African-American student, Lolade Siyonbola, argued on Facebook, where she posted two videos of the encounter, that the police harassed her because of the color of her skin.

“I know this incident is a drop in the bucket of trauma Black folk have endured since Day 1 America, and you all have stories,” Siyonbola subsequently wrote on Facebook.

Many of the more than 17,000 people who commented on her Facebook posts — and the countless others who commented on media websites that picked up the story as it went viral — agreed with her. Others agreed with Yale police union President Rich Simons, who told the Independent Thursday: “Our members did a great job. It was an ID problem. It wasn’t on our part.”

University Secretary Kimberly Goff-Crews issued a statement saying the incident “deeply troubled” her.

And thus has begun the latest video-sparked soul-searching in a divided America about how law enforcement deals with people of color.

Napping While Black


By Thursday afternoon, more than a million people had viewed Siyonbola’s videos. (They’re embedded in this story.)

Siyonbola, a 34-year-old first-year graduate student in African studies and author of a book called Market of Dreams, took the videos after a white graduate student awoke her from a nap around 1:40 a.m. Tuesday.

At the time Siyonbola was sitting in a common room of York Street’s Hall of Graduate Studies dormitory, where she lives. She had fallen asleep while working on a paper.

The white graduate student called police to report than someone she didn’t know was sleeping in the building.

Awakened, Siyonbola accessed Facebook Live to record her interactions first with the student, then, over 17 minutes, her interactions with police.

Police asked to see her ID. She took them to her room, opened it with her key. At first she asked why she needed to show ID, then handed it over.

Officers continued questioning her in the hall while they checked her information with a police dispatcher. That process took longer than usual, according to spokeswoman O’Connor, because of “confusion” over the ID.

They had trouble confirming the ID because Siyonbola’s card had a “preferred” version of her first name that she uses, while the computer system has her legal name, according to Yale. Spokeswoman O’Connor said that students have every right to choose the form of their first name on the card. “When a preferred name is used, we are looking at how we can make sure it is quickly resolved in the system” in the future in the wake of this incident, O’Connor said.

Siyonbola repeatedly questioned cops about why she couldn’t be left alone once she had proved she lived in the dorm.

“Once we verify that you’re a resident here, we’ll be on our way,” one officer told her.

2 IDs


Several times, officers told her that her card had expired.

“Do you have any idea what’s going on with your Yale ID?” a policewoman asked at one point.

“I have no idea,” Siyonbola replied. “I use it every day to get in and out of everything.”

“What’s wrong with her Yale ID?” a male supervisor asked the policewoman.

“It’s coming back as expired,” the policewoman responded. The date on the card read July 13, 2017.

“I’m a first-year. How can it expire in nine months?” Siiyonbola asked.

“I don’t know if that’s an expiration date or when you got it,” the policewoman said.

The sergeant asked his officers what the problem was.

“It’s expired!” another officer responded.

However, Yale IDs do not have expiration dates. They have only dates of issuance.

Spokeswoman O’Connor said the two officers handling Siyonbola’s ID are “fairly new” on the job.

“The police are going to be putting out a training document to remind people that these are dates when they are issued, not expirations,” O’Connor said. “They were following protocol checking the system. They were confused by the date, which is a date of issuance, not expiration. That is being cleared up with a reminder to all safety officials that that is a date of initiaition of the ID, not expiration.”

A separate officer went upstairs to the room of the white woman who complained. O’Connor confirmed that the officer asked that woman for her ID, as well.

That officer did not question the expiration date, according to O’Connor. She said that officer used “a different method” to confirm the validity of the student’s ID.

“You’re Not Being Harassed”

A second question about Yale police policy arises from the conversation with a supervising sergeant who eventually appeared on the scene. This supervisor, who unlike the other police officers is black, repeatedly argued with Siyonbola about her take on the situation.

Both he and she remained calm throughout their tense conversation.

“It’s going to be OK,” the sergeant told Siyonbola.

“I know it’s going to be OK. I know I’m not in trouble,” Siyonbola responded. “I’m not going to be harassed.”

“This isn’t harassment”

“That’s actually what it is. I’m writing a paper … It shouldn’t take that long to undertand that there’s nothing going on.”

“We understand.”

“So why are you here? …”

“We’re going to do our job. You’re not being harassed.”

“I am being harassed.”

“No you’re not.”

The sergeant promised Siyonbola, “We’re going to get to the bottom of it.”

To which she responded: “The bottom of what? The fact that I was in the common room doing a paper and sleeping?”

How To De-Escalate

Paul Bass PhotoYale spokeswoman O’Connor said all Yale officers undergo de-escalation training. She said the officers in this case acted appropriately according to their training.

“The officers and the supervisor were trying to clear up a situation. They were trying to obtain information from all the parties involved,” O’Connor said. “That was sometimes difficult. They were trying to resolve the situation. They were definitely trying to clear up the situation. They understand the feelings of the student who was authorized to be there. The police were following protocol. They were trying to ascertain the situation and sort out what was going on.”

O’Connor added that police “admonished” the white students for calling a complaint that should never have involved police in the first place.

One retired cop experienced in de-escalation training said officers generally are told not to argue with a citizen’s contention of being harassed during a tense call.

The retired cop, former New Haven Assistant Police Chief John Velleca, said that based on his viewing of Siyonbola’s videos, the responding officers were in general not “out of bounds.”

But he said that New Haven officers are trained to hear people out rather than argue with them when facing complaints of mistreatment. The idea is to start by asking the complainant to say more about why she feels harassed. After hearing her out, the officer can then explain his actions. Often, the officer either concludes he has overstepped or the complainant acknowledges the officer’s view, Velleca said. In any case, the situation grows calmer after the “catharsis” of the complainant being able to explain herself rather than being contradicted and fighting to be heard and understood.

Technically, said Velleca (who serves as resident policing expert on WNHH FM radio), officers are told not to consider a key proof that a person lives somewhere. The person could have taken a key from, say, a gym or other public place. So the police were technically right that training calls for further identifying the person being questioned.

He also said that police have discretion when realizing a situation isn’t a problem, that no crime has been committed.

As the country continues debating how law enforcement interacts with citizens in this video age, Velleca said, “Officers will have to learn how to do their jobs with the minimal amount of intrusion. I think society is tired of being over-policed.

“I truly think people are just sick and tired of the police pushing themselves into their lives under the guise of due diligence. I think we can let people live without us telling them how.”

Yale’s Official Version

Thursday afternoon, Yale released the following official summary of the incident:

Yale Police responded to a call in the early hours of Tuesday, May 8 at 1:40 a.m.  The caller reported that she was a student at the Hall of Graduate Studies (HGS) and said that there was a woman sleeping in the common room on the 12th floor, and that she did not know who the person was. Three police officers responded to HGS around 1:45 a.m., where the caller met them at the entrance and showed them her ID. She then let them up in the elevator, which stopped at the fifth floor where another student appeared. 

At this point, the caller pointed to the other student and said, “This is her.”  Protocol is for police to separate the parties involved, so two officers stayed with the woman on the fifth floor and the investigating officer went with the caller to the 12th floor.

The investigating officer spent over 11 minutes initially with the caller to assess the situation, while the other two officers spent about 15 minutes with the other woman to assess the situation and to confirm her identity.  After reviewing the scene in the 12th floor common room and seeing a computer, books, and notebooks in addition to a blanket and pillow on the couch, the investigating officer determined that the person who had been sleeping in the common room was likely a student, so the officer asked the caller to wait in her room on the 12th floor.

The investigating officer reported what she found to the other two officers on the fifth floor and to a supervisor who had arrived to assess the situation and determine whether assistance was needed. The officers were having a difficult time confirming the other student’s identification due to the use of the student’s preferred name in the system that was different from the official name on the ID.  The supervisor worked with dispatch and security to clear up the matter, taking down the student’s information and giving her a case number.  The assessment of the ID took about 15 minutes, which is longer than usual.

At that point, the investigating officer, with her supervisor, went to the 12th floor, where they spoke to the caller again for another seven minutes.  Another officer also followed.  They informed the caller that the student who had been in the common room was an authorized resident who had every right to be there.  They also explained that this was not a police matter and were reporting the incident to the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.  Officers left HGS Studies at about 2:34 a.m.

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posted by: SpecialK on May 9, 2018  9:07pm

The cops were called there to investigate a complaint and they did. They can’t pick and choose which calls for service they respond to and which they don’t. It would have went much faster if Lolade Siyonbola just handed over her University ID card like they asked her to right away.

posted by: BevHills730 on May 9, 2018  9:21pm

Yale has a long and terrible history on race starting with Elihu Yale.  It seems like every year the university manages to generate another incident.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on May 9, 2018  9:37pm

Mr/Ms./Mrs. SpecialK,

When the cops were called to investigate this complaint, the FIRST thing they should have done was make sure the person who called in the complaint was a student.  From there they should have KNOWN, as Yale Police, if it is proper for a student to fall asleep in the Common Room. 

Every call from a white person to complain about the presence of a Black person should not lead to a humiliating “investigation” of the Black person.

Had the white student been paying attention all academic year,  perhaps she would KNOW who are dormmates are.  Or were her Black classmates just invisible to her?

Samuel T. Ross-Lee

posted by: HhE on May 9, 2018  10:05pm

Why would Dean Cooley apologize or admit error?  A fellow student called the police on Ms. Siyonbola, and apparently another student—under conditions that seam suspect, and racially motivated.  The Yale Police did their jobs, professionally and politely.  Which Yale Grad Student is the bigger jerk, I don’t know:  the one who tries to troll people with on line videos, and wishes involuntary psychiatric commitment on others, or the one who calls the police, and be extension, the power of the state, on fellow students she objects too?  Tough call.

posted by: LivingInNewHaven on May 9, 2018  10:11pm

She is a student studying during finals. Anybody with a legitimate college education can relate to the exhaustion that accompanies finals.  She opened her apartment with a key. This is preposterous!
When white people call the cops on black people, there is a horrifying possibility that a misunderstanding will lead to a murder.  As a black person, I fear for my life at the prospect of someone being fearful of me for one reason, that I have black skin.
What happened to this woman was harassing, racist, and terrifying. 😢

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on May 9, 2018  10:17pm

Ms./Mr./Mrs. HhE,

There is no question about “bigger jerk.”  There is only ONE jerk between the two students, and it’s not the one who attempts to protect herself from potential Police Harrassment.  The kind that she constantly see bestowed on Black people when dealing with American police, on or off college campuses.

Samuel T. Ross-Lee

posted by: Chip on May 10, 2018  4:06am

Bottom line - this was a absolutely a racist incident from the woman who called the police to the treatment of the black woman who was extensively cross-examined by the police! So sick of this white privilege paranoia that is sweeping the country! Astounding this happened at Yale and the police chief is African-American! ZERO TOLERANCE FOR RACISM!

posted by: Morgan Barth on May 10, 2018  6:45am

Wow—this whole incident is deeply unfortunate.

I’m not sure how anyone could watch this and think that Ms. Siyonbola is being “a jerk.” She’s the one being completely unreasonably targeted and is perfectly calm and polite during the entire interaction.

I think I can also empathize with YPD who is obligated to check out the call…but they REALLY drag it out.  Long after it’s clear that they’re talking to a grad student they keep on investigating.  They probably could have determined this just by showing up and having the situatinoal awareness to see someone asleep by an open laptop and thought “Oh, grad student writing a paper…NP.” Even if they felt obligated to ask a few questions they SHOULD have ended this interaction much more quickly with a courteous apology and a promise to check out the idiot/racist who made the phony call in the first place. 

Also, why can’t the Dean just apologize?


posted by: Timothy G. ORourke Jr. on May 10, 2018  7:12am

And she resisted efforts that she wasn’t being harassed by the police by harassing the police for doing their job.  There is absolutely no proof that this incident was racially motivated yet that nasty card keeps being played to the detriment of those that it seeks to protect, as it makes this lady look like a cry-baby.

posted by: William Kurtz on May 10, 2018  8:08am

“Which Yale Grad Student is the bigger jerk, I don’t know:  the one who tries to troll people with on line videos, and wishes involuntary psychiatric commitment on others, or the one who calls the police, and be extension, the power of the state, on fellow students she objects too? “

Call on me; I know the answer to this one! There’s only one jerk and it’s the woman who called the cops because an African-American student fell asleep on a couch.

I’m sympathetic to the officers, though, who seemed like they knew the ‘complaint’ was bogus but still needed to do their due diligence, having received a ‘complaint’ in the first place. Both SpecialK and Reverend Ross-Lee have points: you can’t expect the police to pick and choose what calls they bother to check out and every time some nervous racist calls them on a ‘suspicious’ person of color shouldn’t be a humiliating investigation into that person’s legitimacy.

Maybe some sort of specific protocol and better training is in order? I would give these officers the benefit of the doubt (which I know is easy for me to do, sitting here) but it seems like their diplomatic skills are lacking a little bit.

posted by: elmcityresident on May 10, 2018  9:00am

@Timothy G. ORourke Jr.

I’m very interested in your interpretation of events, i’m very interested in what makes it not racially motivated? please enlighten me.

posted by: William Kurtz on May 10, 2018  9:04am

“There is absolutely no proof that this incident was racially motivated yet that nasty card keeps being played to the detriment of those that it seeks to protect, as it makes this lady look like a cry-baby.”

“Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear:” (Jeremiah 5:21).

The ‘race card’ is a tired trope that ignores the reality of contemporary (not to mention historic) systemic and individual racism in this country, as well as influence is still has on social, economic, and political structures not to mention personal reactions.

If you would be taken seriously in conversations about this matter, stop saying that and stop invalidating the lived experiences of people of color.

posted by: elmcityresident on May 10, 2018  9:07am

I believe it could’ve been handle a little better by the officers if I was an officer in this day in time once she opened that dorm room door it was a done deal for me if I was a cop BUT the question remains was the complainant spoken too for her bogus 911 call???? people that make these kind of calls should be held accountable for being a waste of time for real emergent issues…..SMH

posted by: LookOut on May 10, 2018  9:36am

Let’s put this in perspective - only a few weeks ago, someone who didn’t belong in the Yale dorm areas somehow got in and eventually shot a student.  So, when police get a call like this, they should absolutely do their job and check things out.  If Siyonbola just showed her ID, this would have been done in 30 seconds.  Disparaging statements about the caller and police only complicate an already messy issue.

Let the police do their job - making the students safe.  Sometimes that requires extra efforts - like showing your ID.

posted by: Morgan Barth on May 10, 2018  10:24am

I’m not a lawyer, but it seems like there should be accountability for the student who called the police - she knew darn well she was calling on a fellow student.

@ O’Rourke your insistence that race was not a factor in this is absurd…I can’t see any scenario in which the police are called to investigate a young white woman asleep at her laptop during finals in a college common room.


2005 Connecticut Code - Sec. 53a-180. Falsely reporting an incident in the first degree: Class D felony.
Sec. 53a-180. Falsely reporting an incident in the first degree: Class D felony. (a) A person is guilty of falsely reporting an incident in the first degree when, knowing the information reported, conveyed or circulated to be false or baseless, such person: (1) Initiates or circulates a false report or warning of an alleged occurrence or impending occurrence of a fire, explosion, catastrophe or emergency under circumstances in which it is likely that public alarm or inconvenience will result; or (2) reports, by word or action, to any official or quasi-official agency or organization having the function of dealing with emergencies involving danger to life or property, an alleged occurrence or impending occurrence of a fire, explosion or other catastrophe or emergency which did not in fact occur or does not in fact exist.

posted by: maskedavenger on May 10, 2018  10:30am

Someone gets shot in the Yale dorm room? She opened her door, gave them a Yale ID, they continued to drag out the situation. Had they had the common sense to cut her lose and apologize at that point, this would not have been an issue. The fact that they say we want to investigate that you “belong” here is what gave away their racist motives. But one day karma will bite, it always does.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 10, 2018  10:48am

@ SpecialK.It Never Stops for people of color.

White Neighbor Calls Cops On Bob Marley’s Granddaughter To Falsely Accuse Her Of Robbing An Airbnb

Got surrounded by the police for being black in a white neighborhood,” one of the guests, Donisha Prendergast, a filmmaker and a granddaughter of Bob Marley, wrote on Instagram.

A mom on a college tour called the cops on two Native American teens because they made her ‘nervous’

Friday, the university’s police released the audio of the 911 call in which the parent reports 19-year-old Thomas Kanewakeron Gray and 17-year-old Lloyd Skanahwati Gray. She says their behavior is odd and that they’re wearing “black clothing.” The school also released footage of officers pulling the teens out of the group to question them.

A group of black women say a golf course called the cops on them for playing too slow

Nordstrom Rack apologizes after calling the police on three black teens who were shopping for prom
Pruitt said that one of the men wanted to try on a shirt, so he removed his hat to do so. The store employees kept following the men.Shortly after, the man who had tried on the shirt realized he left his hat in the store, so the three of them went back. That’s when they were approached by an elderly white woman who had also been shopping.“Now they’re confronted by an elderly white woman in the store who says to them, ‘Would your parents and grandparents be proud of what you’re doing?’ ” Pruitt said. The woman also referred to them as “a bunch of bums,” according to Pruitt.

posted by: WereUthere? on May 10, 2018  11:37am

Few things:

I want to see the body cam footage of the interview with the complainant.

The woman taking this cell phone video isn’t making the situation any easier with her attitude towards the officers.

The cops should have done better in explaining to the woman why they NEED her ID information in order to document the incident. IF IT ISNT DOCUMENTED IT DIDNT HAPPEN. So if you’re not going to give them your information then later on when you have another issue with this woman and you call the cops you have nothing to reference (Case number, report, NOTHING).

If you ever want to get a restraining order against this woman harassing you then you need police reports. Therefore you need to provide ID. A trail of police reports helps to prove harassment.

The Sergeant did a great job and was professional.

“oh I know I’m not in trouble, my ancestors built this place.” WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING!

I hope the complainant was told the incident will be documented and IF IN FACT a history of racial harassment is shown it should ABSOLUTELY be dealt with.

But again, the cops did nothing wrong. They investigated it. They documented it. Yea it may be an inconvenience but if you want to prove harassment then you WANT it documented. Questioning the police doesn’t help you.

end rant.

posted by: BevHills730 on May 10, 2018  11:45am

This is also an institutional failure for Yale and Dean Cooley.  The graduate student who called the police was harassing another student previously.  That student filed a complaint.  Yet Yale’s administration was unable to address the problem and allowed the white graduate student to continue creating a hostile environment. As of now, it seems Starbucks is more responsive to racist incidents than Yale.

posted by: robn on May 10, 2018  12:08pm

Here’s what I would have asked the caller were I the dispatcher:

1) Do you know this person isn’t a fellow resident or student?
2) Is the person creating a problem?

If the answers to the above two questions were “no” I would thank the caller for their concern and tell them to call back if they discovered a known trespasser or a problem:

posted by: SpecialK on May 10, 2018  12:13pm

@ Lookout:

Nobody was shot in that incident.

posted by: Timothy G. ORourke Jr. on May 10, 2018  2:25pm

Mr. Kurtz: Facts determine knowledge of reality not ones’ subjective experience of what one claims to be true no matter how convicted one appears to be in ones’ narrative. 

Elmcityresident:  There is simply no proof of racism in the personal intentions of the one who called the police. I guess every black person can claim racism when one is illegitimately reported to the police.

Ms. Barth: Speculation is not proof. Perhaps, she didn’t like the girl.  I don’t.  That’s not to say I would call the police on her, though. 

Staff reporter:  I can see why you didn’t credit yourself, as a good case can be made for libel when the dots are connected.

posted by: alphabravocharlie on May 10, 2018  2:39pm

Students are required to show ID to police officers upon request by University regulations.

The mere possession of an ID and/or room keys is not probative. Students leave, are suspended or are removed from University housing for a variety of reasons. The officers did their due diligence.

The administration of the Graduate School should now investigate to see whether the complainant broke any rules and take appropriate action.

posted by: William Kurtz on May 10, 2018  2:43pm

Mr. O’Rourke,

I am curious to know what ‘facts’ or ‘proof’ you would expect to see, or accept to convince you that calling the police on a person who was in a place she had every right to be, doing nothing unexpected or unusual, was motivated at least in part, by that person’s race.

I’m also curious why you don’t like Ms. Siyonbola, whom I am guessing you have never met.

posted by: robn on May 10, 2018  3:18pm

Sure there’s no 100% positive proof of overt or institutional racism. But ask yourself these questions:
1) Is it really the modus operandi of a robber, thief or vandal to break into a residential facility, bringing their laptop and then napping in a public place?
2) If a young white person was asleep on that couch, would they have been detained and questioned?
If you answered “No” to these questions, there’s a pretty straight line of logic and it leads to racism. And I can neither let the caller off the hook (who obviously overreacted) not the police (who should have started with the caller, asking that person what their problem was.)

posted by: Razzie on May 10, 2018  4:06pm

Well ... SOMEBODY certainly owes Ms. Siyonbola an apology. She won’t get it from the harasser, so why not from the Yale administration. She was subjected to a completely unnecessary and uncalled for detention and interrogation when she had every right to be exactly where she was. Even tho she is admittedly required to show ID when necessary, the origins of this challenge to her status are completely bogus, if not clearly infected with racial animus. Finals week ... I suspect a whole lot of students were falling asleep in common areas—black and white. It is shameful that Yale has a bigot like the harasser within its midst. Yale can’t prevent it ... but Yale should have the decency to apologize when incidents such as this do in fact occur.

And 15 minutes to resolve the situation is completely unacceptable. I can imagine being detained for that period of time on completely bogus conditions, even after having presented to “proof” demanded. I admire her restraint. Not that the individual officers are to blame. But “The System” deficiencies SUCK in this instance. She deserves an apology! (Whether it will soothe her feelings or not.)

posted by: breakingbad23 on May 10, 2018  4:48pm

The YPD facebook page has a statement from Chief Higgins which is way more plausible than the conjecture we’re seeing on here from all the Monday morning quarterbacks.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 10, 2018  4:51pm

As I said. It Never Stops for people of color.

Cooking Out While Black: White Woman Calls Cops on Black People Cooking Out in Oakland, Calif., Park
By Yesha Callahan
Today 11:59am

Although the park map showed that the family was indeed in the wrong area for grilling, Smith says that he sees people using charcoal grills there all the time. But was it necessary for the unidentified woman to call the police?Snider said she didn’t do any such thing. In the end, neither party received a citation, and Snider and Smith were allowed to continue their afternoon cookout. Notice how Snider called her fellow white woman out on her shit? Be more like Snider, white people.

Couponing While Black: Pizza Inn Denies Black Man’s Coupon but Accepts Same Coupon From White Friend

Link Alexander says he tried to use a coupon at a Rocky Mountain, N.C., Pizza Inn that advertised a free buffet, but he was immediately denied because the manager said he did not recognize the signature on the coupon. Hours later, Alexander’s white friend activated his ally powers like a good white friend should and was able to use the same exact coupon.

Toronto Chinatown Restaurant Forced to Pay $10,000 to Black Diner After Making Him Prepay for His Meal

A Toronto restaurant is being forced to cough up some serious cash to a black patron after it required him and three of his friends to pay in advance for their meals. Noticing that they were the only black people in the restaurant, Wickham asked other patrons if they, too, had been asked to prepay.They all said no.The black diners questioned the server, who eventually confessed that their group was the only one asked to pay in advance for their meals.

posted by: robn on May 10, 2018  5:42pm


Sorry but Higgin’s long winded note skirts the real issue. What is YPD’s protocol for determining doubt that someone belongs on campus? What exactly did this caller say to the dispatcher to make a reasonable argument that the caller knows all the other 167 people living in the building and that this particular person didn’t belong?

posted by: TheMadcap on May 10, 2018  5:52pm

Of course the guy who doesn’t think there’s any racial undertones in this also thinks reporting news that makes someone look bad is a case for libel(spoiler: it’s not)

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on May 10, 2018  6:59pm

SpecialK, Lookout, et al., of course the YPD had to respond to the call. And it was appropriate, under the circumstances, to ask Ms. Siyonbola for ID. But once she presented her ID and let the officers into her room with a key, their appropriate response should have been to thank her for her cooperation and wish her a good night.

posted by: mechanic on May 10, 2018  8:53pm

So Yale PD doesn’t know what is on a Yale ID?  They are unfamiliar with Yale IDs?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 10, 2018  9:37pm

Hot off the press.

White woman who called cops on black Yale student sleeping in dorm previously called cops on student of color

The white Yale student who phoned authorities after she spotted a black woman sleeping in the common area of a residence hall has allegedly called the cops on a student of color in the past.Yale Police released a statement Thursday saying Sarah Braash’s call was “not a police matter” and that the department reported the incident to a graduate school dean.In March, Siyonbola and another black student, Jean-Louis Reneson, submitted a complaint about a separate incident also involving Braasch, the Yale Daily News reported.The incident occurred after Siyonbola invited several colleagues, including Reneson, to the same residence hall on Feb. 24 for a meeting in the common room.Reneson, who got lost inside the building, was physically blocked by Braasch from entering the common room and accused him of being an intruder, according to the complaint.“Feeling ignored, I went down to base of the twelfth floor and eleventh floor and turned my back, but she continued to verbally assault me from the twelfth floor, claiming that I ‘didn’t belong here’ and I was making her ‘uncomfortable,” Reneson told Yale Daily.

posted by: Chrisssy on May 10, 2018  10:12pm

Wow are these girls really in grad school or elementary school? Taping each other with their phones, really? Both of u need to grow up, or settle it like us stupid kids did and have a fist fight and then move on. Both of you are obviously very smart to be going to Yale but you’re both very immature. How the heck these cops are able to remain calm and continue to speak respectfully the entire time the black girl was snotty and speaking to them like a bratty disrespectful little bitch. You can talk to the cops that way and get away with it but you talk to common folk like that and I bet one day you get a good old fashioned ass whooping with that snippy attitude you have.

posted by: Ozzie on May 11, 2018  6:58am

What most people don’t know is that Yale has a serious problem with numerous trespassers who gain entry to the University by hanging around an entry point and when a student swipes their card to enter an area they ( the student ) are oblivious to the fact that they are being followed in to that area by someone who is not a student .
The trespasser then commits thefts and or burglaries to dorm rooms ect. As for Ms. Siyonbola if the roles were reversed I’m sure she would want her complaint to be investigated by the Police the same way . Lastly I don’t know about the rest of you people but when it’s 140 AM and I’m tired, I go back to my crib and sleep , not in some common area where one of those trespassers Could make you the victim of a serious crime. But then again that would be another story

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on May 11, 2018  7:28am

I am embarrassed for the Yale PD here.

Once she had produced keys and ID, common sense should have dictated that they treat Siyonbola as a Yale student, and the “complaint” as unwarranted.

Instead they continued to treat Siyonbola as a potential criminal, not giving sufficient credence to her claims that “hey, I’m a Yalie and I live here”, what, because her Yale ID might have been a fake?

Finally, the officers never even apologize to Siyonbola for detaining her. Honestly, it was ugly treatment by the YPD, and they ought to be ashamed.

posted by: 1644 on May 11, 2018  8:02am

robn:  Your idea that the police should not respond unless the caller knows the person isn’t a resident is absurd and dangerous.  The police exist in part to ascertain such things, and rely on callers to report “suspicious” people.  (As it happens, the two students did know each other, haven had a previous run-in.). As the robbery in one of the colleges shows,  dangerous people can penetrate Yale’s security, most likely through students just holding doors open for people.

  And yes,  unauthorized people do camp out in college dorms.  I recall finding a pretty, young woman in my shower junior year,  and assumed she was visiting some sophomore girls who shared the bathroom.  Those girls, in turn, believed she belonged to me.  In fact, she (sort of) belonged to a guy one floor down. Free rent, free food, what’s not to like? Note: in this case, the detritus of student life surrounding the black woman should have marked her as a student.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on May 11, 2018  8:15am


What most people are intelligent enough to know is that a trespasser does not have a key to one of the apartments in which they are trespassing, nor will they sit down and fall asleep with an open computer in a common area or any area. 

What most people are intelligent enough to know is that students often work until they are tired and decide to take a nap right where they are, in libraries, break rooms, common rooms, or their desk, with the intentions of waking up and continuing their work.

What many people know is that graduate students, perhaps you’ve never been one, use many sources to write a paper, and don’t wish to drag all of their material from one spot to another in the same building, so when they take a break they will leave there things right where they are, instead of dragging them back and forth. 

You subtle attempt to make this Black student wrong for being where she was, and to justify the actions of the white student and the bubbling Yale Police are not so subtle.  You should perhaps try again. Your racism is showing in this one. 

Samuel T. Ross-Lee

posted by: robn on May 11, 2018  9:11am


Dispatchers are supposed to send the police to a complaint of criminal behavior. A grad student napping on a couch doesn’t rise to that.

posted by: Ozzie on May 11, 2018  9:13am

@ Sam all the times I’ve posted on this site I’ve never made my comments a racial thing which seems to be your forte. Maybe you should do an FOI and see how many complaints there have been regarding trespassers found sleeping in common areas along with burglaries and thefts that have occurred on Yale property without the use of a swiped key card .
  Also a tired student leaving their belongings behind instead of lugging them around is an invitation to theft . But that’s just common sense , a trait I have that many a grad student doesn’t . That’s why they get hit by cars when they walk into the middle of traffic on Elm St without looking .

posted by: robn on May 11, 2018  9:16am

Black people just don’t get it. When a white person discovers a black person asleep on a couch next to laptop with a term paper entitled, “The Epistemological Relationship between Millennials, Language, Film and Textiles,” it can be extremely traumatizing.

posted by: elmcityresident on May 11, 2018  9:19am

no one is saying the cops are in the wrong WE’RE JUST TIRED OF THE UNBIASED COP CALLING FOR ABSOLUTELY NO REASON THIS “ISH” IS GETTING OUT OF HAND and charges need to be brought against the callers, if the tables was turned you wouldn’t like it at all and would be suing all over the place but the privileges are obviously different


posted by: breakingbad23 on May 11, 2018  9:27am

Robn- You should get yourself a police scanner and listen to the amount of calls that don’t rise to the level you describe needing police service ALL DAY LONG. And no, dispatchers are not trained to weed out calls like this from behind their computer screen.

posted by: 1644 on May 11, 2018  9:30am

I just got to the, “My ancestors built this university” part.  Given that she immigrated from Nigeria via England, no, they didn’t.

posted by: TheMadcap on May 11, 2018  9:38am

Guys, I know you all will find this shocking, but the woman who called thr cops in an incident some are claiming can not possibly be racist, has said some racist stuff in the past

posted by: robn on May 11, 2018  10:45am


Would you agree that it would have been reasonable for the cops, upon arrival, to ask the caller how she came to the conclusion that this person did not belong?

And would you agree that if the caller described the situation of a 20or30-something person napping on a couch next to a laptop during finals week, it would be reasonable for the cops to assume that the caller couldn’t possibly know every one of the other 167 people living in the building and that the 20or30-something person was a grad student?

And would you agree that if the cops decided to check it out anyway and stumbled upon this person (as they did), that the person unlocking their apartment door would be proof enough that they were a resident grad student?


Cops have limited resources and every minute of every day have to use their legal discretion to determine whether something suspicious is taking place. It would not have taken a great detective to put this callers story together and realize what was happening.

posted by: robn on May 11, 2018  10:49am


Nigeria was a major point of export for African slaves to the United States. Does a family split up 150-300 years ago cease to have ancestral connections?

posted by: 1644 on May 11, 2018  11:33am

Robn:  The caller did not tell the dispatcher that a fellow student was sleeping in the common common room.  According to the article,  “The caller reported that she was a student at the Hall of Graduate Studies (HGS) and said that there was a woman sleeping in the common room on the 12th floor, and that she did not know who the person was.”  Had the caller told the dispatcher that a fellow student was sleeping in the common room, I doubt police would have been dispatched.  Even then, a welfare call might have been made.
  Overall, these two seem to be desperately in need a a liberal education,  to give them a broader view of the world.  Instead, both seem committed to promoting their chosen group, women or blacks, as the most victimized. It’s all very sad.

posted by: breakingbad23 on May 11, 2018  12:09pm

Robn- With the 20/20 hindsight we have I find your scenario reasonable. But I also find the way the Officers conducted themselves in the moment without benefit of 20/20 hindsight in a not so perfect world reasonable also.

posted by: Eric B. Smith on May 11, 2018  12:20pm

I only read the first few paragraphs to see that this one isn’t rocket science and YPD need to clean up their procedures at best.  My points:

1.  Police have to respond to any calls they get.
2.  Just as municipal police know how to validate a driver’s license, YPD should VERY easily be able to validate a Yale ID.  The fact the ID either didn’t indicate it’s an issuance date and/or YPD didn’t know that is a BIG public safety problem.
3.  Also it should be a VERY simple process for YPD to validate who is or is not a Yale student/where they live with just a name.

The bottom line is that this encounter should have been over in less than five minutes.  The fact that it wasn’t is a problem, not for the complainant or other student, but for the YPD!

posted by: 1644 on May 11, 2018  1:02pm

Robn:  1.  Yale maintains its own, private police force precisely so that its resources are not as limited as those of the New Haven force, and so that it can give a higher level of protection and responsiveness to its community than that which NHPD might give.  As Ozzie states,  trespassing is a major problem at Yale,  and aggressively responding to trespassing and unauthorized persons complaints can protect its community from greater harms such as theft, robbery, assault, rape, etc.  As for keys and identification cards, people do use other’s keys and cards, not always lawfully obtained or retained.  Whenever the cops pull me over, they check my license in the computer.  The Yale cops were doing the same here.
2.  No doubt she is distantly related to slaves,  but it is highly unlikely that she is descended from any, in the US as her ancestors would have to have traveled from Nigeria to Connecticut and back to Nigeria to be her ancestors.  Were she Liberian, she would have a greater chance, although even in that case their were few slaves in Connecticut, and blacks, free and slave, had a minor role building Yale.  Its primary builders were Congregational ministers, and the physical plant was built in the 1920s and 1930s by laborers primarily of European ancestry. (Yes, folks like Stiles had slaves and indentured servants, but they were personal servants, not used by the school.). Overall, I don’t think you nor she know what an ancestor is.

posted by: robn on May 11, 2018  2:23pm


Unless every single on of the millions of kidnapped Africans enslaved and brought to the US left no children behind, its completely plausible that modern day Nigerians have ancestors that were US slaves.

posted by: OverTheRiverThruTheHood on May 11, 2018  3:33pm

Robn 1644, While this is a silly and unimportant tangent to the actual story here…
It’s also entirely possible that in the 300 years since Yale was built that her family could have moved from the US to Nigeria. Ever hear of Liberia? Heck, they could have spent a century in France, then a generation in Japan, and then moved to Nigeria. Unless you know her and have discussed her family ancestry with her, your assumptions about her are based on your own preconceived notions and bias.

posted by: Brutus2011 on May 11, 2018  8:01pm

I doubt the call would have been made to the police if the sleeping student were white.

Can anyone here really dispute this with a straight face?

We are a racist and apartheid society.

This is just another reminder.

Trumkkkp has only made things worse.

posted by: BevHills730 on May 14, 2018  7:37am

1644 spends hours malaligning harassed students of color and immigrant families, while praising Yale administrators. Good choices 1644!

posted by: 1644 on May 14, 2018  9:08am

Bev:  I don’t see the world in binary terms.  In general, I don’t like whiners, including Sarah B. complaining about trash from parties, about a fellow student sleeping in a common room, or Ololade/Lolade S. complaining about police doing their job.  I do believe in the rule of law, and criticize those who violate them, whether they be immigrants or police.  If you are wondering if fair haired, blue-eyed preppie types are asked for identification by Yale officials, I can say, yes, they are.  As for Yale administrators, one of those involved here is Kim Goffe-Crewes.  Is she good because she is a woman of color, or bad because she is a Yale administrator?

posted by: BevHills730 on May 14, 2018  11:38am

1644 you spend hours and hours whining about people of color and immigrants here.

posted by: 1644 on May 14, 2018  1:17pm

Bev:  Since it’s obvious the personal attacks rule is gone,  it seems the best you can add to the discussion is personal attacks on me because I don’t feel one’s color or immigration status should make one immune to criticism.  I do try to add facts, such as the fact the O/L S’s claim that her ancestors “built Yale” is highly dubious at best, and most likely completely false.  I make that statement based on her own extensive writings about her heritage.  FYI, my own parents were immigrants, both born and raised in Eastern Asia.  They immigrated to the United States largely because my father’s defense of a Communist’s rights to free speech shut educational and professional opportunities to my father.

posted by: BevHills730 on May 14, 2018  4:20pm

Not personal insults, just observations.  You’re spending lots and lots of time whining about and second-guessing a student who did absolutely nothing wrong. Why do you care so much?

posted by: wendy1 on May 14, 2018  7:48pm

WE are worse than South Africa.  And Yale sucks, too.
African/American history is not taught in schools and most whites are bigots.  Every city and town is segregated in some way.  Yale’s black police chief is intelligent and well educated but also a token black for the white corporation with a long history of racism/bigotry.
Jim Crow lives along with lynching.  I tell people I’m Canadian.

posted by: Chrisssy on May 14, 2018  9:43pm

Wish the great story about Malik had 60+ comments instead of this article about two crybaby college students fighting like 5th graders. Give Malik kudos instead of wasting energy arguing about these two children

posted by: 1644 on May 15, 2018  5:44am

Bev: It’s my school.  So, I howl against the winds of intolerant orthodoxy as the vestiges of a liberal institution are blown away.

posted by: BevHills730 on May 15, 2018  9:54am

Don’t confuse jumping on a bandwagon of bullies as an anonymous commenter with some intellectual defense of Yale.