On Wednesday, a Black student at HBCU Winston-Salem State University was arrested in class, as her classmates looked on in apparent horror. The student, whose name was not released by the school, had an in-class confrontation with a teacher that ended with the student in handcuffs — and hundreds of HBCU students and alumni are demanding answers.
In an Instagram Live, a girl who identified herself as the arrested student said the issue began over a class essay she refused to redo, even though she was told it would be detrimental to her grade. The student said the teacher had given her the feedback less than six hours before the paper was due, and she did not feel she had been given enough time to rework it.
“I’m not going back and redoing this essay that took me two weeks and you told me six hours before,” she said in the video. “And I still came to the final to present with my group because that was what we were supposed to do.”
When the argument between herself and her teacher grew heated during group project presentations, the girl said she was told to apologize or leave the classroom. The student said she chose not to leave because the final was a large percentage of her grade — which was when a school employee called the police.
“I’m not gonna lie, I got loud back,” she said, in the now-deleted video. While police and school officials have not released the girl’s name, Rolling Stone was able to confirm through social media that the student attends WSSU, and another student present in the class confirmed she was the one arrested. The student involved declined to comment to Rolling Stone.
Several videos of the incident, taken by multiple people in the class, have now gone viral on social media. In the clips, WSSU students can be heard protesting as the girl is hauled out of the classroom, handcuffed, as she shouts and cries. “I’m not resisting,” the student can be heard saying in the video. “You’re hurting me really bad bro, please get off of me.” The student said in the Live she is considering possible litigation.
On Wednesday afternoon, WSSU Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson said the teacher, which the school has not named, followed school process by calling campus security after she tried to de-escalate the situation on her own. Robinson acknowledged that this kind of incident could be traumatizing for Black students, but denied that the campus security and police wrongly targeted the aggrieved student.
“We understand that the weaponization of police is a prevalent problem in our community; however, that is not what happened in this incident,” Robinson said in a public statement. “We strive for a safe, inclusive, thriving, and intellectual community where all our faculty, staff, and students feel respected and supported. We know you want immediate answers; however, the speed of our processes does not match the speed of social media. Ultimately, we are committed to ensuring due diligence and fairness. We do ask for your patience as we must take the necessary time to ensure the safety of everyone involved. ”
In follow-up posts on social media, the student involved has maintained that she was not in the wrong and has added she will most likely never return as a student.
“All honesty, I’m just heartbroken,” she said. “Did not expect it to happen. Didn’t want that to happen to anybody else. I’m just heartbroken.”