The Slatest

A Black Graduate Student at Yale Says a White Student Called Police on Her for Napping in a Common Room During an All-Nighter

Patrons sit in the cafe of Atticus Bookstore which overlooks the Yale Campus on Chapel Street April 16, 2008 in New Haven, Connecticut.
Patrons sit in the cafe of Atticus Bookstore which overlooks the Yale Campus on Chapel Street April 16, 2008 in New Haven, Connecticut.
Christopher Capozziello/Getty Images

A black graduate student at Yale University says a white student called campus police on her after she fell asleep in a common room in her dorm while studying earlier this week. The 34-year-old graduate student, Lolade Siyonbola, said she was taking a nap amidst working on a “marathon of papers,” when around 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, a white female student flipped on the lights of the common room, told Siyonbola she had no right to sleep there, and then called the police. Yale later said the student had reported “an unauthorized person in the common room.”

When the officers arrived at the dorm, Siyonbola, who is pursuing a master’s degree in African Studies, recorded the encounter and posted a 17-minute video online. “I deserve to be here. I pay tuition like everybody else,” Siyonbola told the officers. Siyonbola, at first, refused to give the officers her ID, unlocking her dorm room door instead to show she had appropriate access to the building, before relenting and handing over her ID. The encounter dragged on, however, as the officers struggled to verify the student’s ID, which, the university later said, contained a different, preferred name than what was in the school’s official records. “I am not going to justify my existence here,” Siyonbola said during the exchange.

Siyonbola also confronted the student who called the police and posted a short video of the encounter. “I have every right to call the police. You cannot sleep in that room,” the white student told her while Siyonbola recorded.

“We believe the Yale police who responded followed procedures,” a Yale spokesman said Wednesday. “As we do with every incident, we will be reviewing the call and the response of the police officers to ensure that the proper protocol was followed, and to determine if there was anything we could have done better.”