Administrators at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU), a historically Black school, say they will work “to bring a resolution” after a white professor had a Black student arrested in her classroom after a verbal dispute.
“We received a report that there was a significant commotion in Carolina Hall this morning, and as such, a WSSU employee nearby called for the assistance of law enforcement after they tried to de-escalate the situation,” the school’s chancellor, Elwood L. Robinson, said in a letter on Wednesday.
“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. “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.”
“We know this situation has caused a great deal of trauma to those involved and our campus community at large, but please know that every available resource is being extended to bring a resolution.”
In a video posted to social media, student Leila Hamoud can be seen being bent over a desk as she is arrested by two officers — one white and one Black — as she yells to the professor, “I hate you, I hate you. I swear to God, I hate you. You’re the worst teacher ever, you get me taken out in handcuffs because I won’t apologize? Because I won’t apologize?”
The teacher can be heard responding that she was trying to deescalate the situation.
“You started yelling at me,” Hamoud responds. “You tried to embarrass me about my paper! You’re a terrible teacher.”
Students in the video appeared to agree with Hamoud, telling the teacher she “escalated” things by yelling first and calling in the campus police.
Hamoud can also be heard telling officers she is not resisting their arrest.
“You’re hurting me really bad, please get off me,” she said.
In a second video posted after the incident, Hamoud said the dispute arose after the class was assigned a group project that included writing a paper and creating a skit.
According to Hamoud, she wrote the skit and part of the essay, but six hours before the group was to present the project, the professor told her the essay was “completely wrong” and needed to be redone.
Hamoud said it took her two weeks to write the essay so she couldn’t redo the work, but she still attended class to present with her group. Once there, according to Hamoud, the altercation began.
“I’m talking to two of my group members,” Hamoud said. “She was like [the essay] is wrong and you should redo it or it would impact my grade.”
But Hamoud said she was only there so her group didn’t fail the assignment.
“She starts getting loud, yelling at me, telling me it’s her class so it doesn’t matter what I think,” Hamoud said. “I’m getting loud back, I’m not going to sit here and lie to you guys. I got loud back, I was raising my voice, too.”
The teacher told Hamoud she needed to leave the classroom, which Hamoud refused to do, saying she didn’t do anything wrong. At that point, the campus police were called. The professor told Hamoud either she apologizes or she lets the officers remove her.
Hamoud did not apologize, and she was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.
“I go to a historically Black college, and for this to happen to me and it be provoked by people who are not of Black descent, it hurts,” Hamoud said.
Both videos spread quickly on social media, with many disparaging the teacher.
Haley Gingles, spokesperson for the university, told CNN the teacher is “very emotional and shaken by all of this. There have been several threats to her safety, which of course are cause for alarm.”
Meanwhile, Robinson said it’s understandable that students want immediate answers.
“However, the speed of our processes does not match the speed of social media,” he added. “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.”