Alabama; Mobile — A recent video went viral depicting a Black student at Winston Salem State University, an HBCU, being arrested by police after an argument with her teacher. The school has not released the names of the student and teacher involved.
The student said that the situation began because she refused to redo an essay that she worked on for two weeks and was given less than six hours to turn in after making corrections to it. This caused their conversation to escalate and the two began to yell at each other and resulted in the the teacher demanding that the young woman apologize or leave the classroom for yelling and dropping the f-bomb.
When the student refused to leave because she wanted to complete her group project, the professor left the class and began talking to another teacher. The other teacher then called the campus police. A Black officer came to the classroom first and began to ascertain the problem but according to the student, it was when the white police officer showed up that he said “you’re either gonna have to get out or I’m gonna take you out,” and eventually called for the student’s arrest.
“I’m not usually one to mention race but I think it is a little bit necessary in this instance because I do go to a historically Black college,” the student said. “And for this to happen to me and to be so provoked by people who are not of Black descent, it hurts.”
The incident has sparked outrage and condemnation across social media from HBCU alums and current students. Many are calling for accountability by demanding the professor lose her job as well as the officers involved.
WSSU Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson, addressed the event in an open letter effectively saying that the police were not weaponized against a student that had a disagreement with her professor.
“We understand that the weaponization of police is a prevalent problem in our community; however, that is not what happened in this incident,” Robinson wrote. “We strive for a safe, inclusive, thriving, and intellectual community where all our faculty, staff, and students feel respected and supported. To that end, we will take swift and appropriate measures against any situation that contradicts those ideals.
Police documents confirm the student that was detained has been charged with a misdemeanor for disorderly conduct. She is scheduled to appear in court on January 25 at 9 a.m., according to WXII 112 News.
The incident has opened up broader discussions of policing on HBCU campuses, places where one would assume Black students should be safe from criminalization or facing unfair harsh discipline.
There is a petition in support of the student with more than 1,500 signatures. The petition states that the student body demands transparency and the removal of officers and the professor.