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Col­lege says they are sor­ry after police called to check on black stu­dent eat­ing lunch

Col­lege says they are sor­ry after police called to check on black stu­dent eat­ing lunch

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. — A Mass­a­chu­setts col­lege pres­i­dent is apol­o­giz­ing after cam­pus police were called to inves­ti­gate a black stu­dent qui­et­ly eat­ing her lunch in a com­mon room.

Oumou Kanoute, a stu­dent at Smith Col­lege, post­ed what hap­pened to Face­book, say­ing she was sit­ting in a din­ing hall when “a white staff mem­ber at the school report­ed [her] to the police as a sus­pi­cious black male sit­ting in the com­mon room.”

In the video, an offi­cer is seen ask­ing Kanoute a series of ques­tions.

I was­n’t mak­ing any noise, dis­turb­ing any­one,” said Kanoute. “I was just eat­ing, mind­ing my busi­ness, not both­er­ing any­one at all.”

Smith Col­lege Pres­i­dent Kath­leen McCart­ney said in a let­ter Thurs­day the col­lege is hir­ing a “third-par­ty inves­ti­ga­tor” to review the inci­dent and said every Smith staff mem­ber will under­go manda­to­ry anti-bias train­ing.

Offi­cials say an employ­ee at the Northamp­ton col­lege called police Tues­day to report some­one appeared “out of place” in the build­ing.

The school lat­er said there was noth­ing sus­pi­cious. McCart­ney apol­o­gized to the under­grad­u­ate stu­dent, who is work­ing as a teach­ing assis­tant this sum­mer.

In a state­ment, the col­lege said:

A Cam­pus Police offi­cer respond­ed to the site and spoke with the indi­vid­ual, a Smith under­grad­u­ate stu­dent of col­or, who was on a break from her on-cam­pus job. Cam­pus Police found noth­ing sus­pi­cious about the stu­den­t’s pres­ence.”

Some­one could have eas­i­ly approached me, I’m 5 feet 2 inch­es, lit­er­al­ly 120 pounds sit­ting next to a ted­dy bear if you’ve seen the video, so I’m not sure how much of a threat I could pos­si­bly be to any­one,” said Kanoute. “I want them to explain their log­i­cal rea­son­ing behind what about my behav­ior is so sus­pi­cious.”

Kanoute is also tak­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty to tell young stu­dents who find them­selves in this sit­u­a­tion to make sure their voice is heard.

Con­tin­ue to work hard and don’t let any­one define you or ques­tion why you are there,“said Kanoute. “You work just as hard as your coun­ter­parts and just make the most out of your expe­ri­ence.”

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