The rising sophomore at Smith College was quietly eating her lunch in a campus common room when a police officer approached her Tuesday afternoon. A college employee had called police to report someone who “seemed out of place” in a Smith building that was being used for a summer program. But when campus police arrived, they found a Smith student, taking a break from her campus job.
There was “nothing suspicious about the student’s presence,” the school said in a statement released Wednesday about the incident, the latest example of police being called to investigate black people in everyday situations.
In two posts to Facebook on Tuesday, the woman identified herself as the student in question. She wrote that a white college employee had reported her to the police as a “suspicious black male.”
“I am blown away at the fact that I cannot even sit down and eat lunch peacefully,” she wrote in one post. “I did nothing wrong, I wasn’t making any noise or bothering anyone. All I did was be black.” The student was working on campus this summer as a teaching assistant and residential adviser, according to her Facebook page. “It’s outrageous that some people question my being at Smith College, and my existence overall as a woman of color,” she wrote.
The student did not respond to requests for comment. Amy Hunter, the college’s interim director of diversity and inclusion, said the school “does not tolerate race- or gender-based discrimination in any form.”