Barnard College has placed all of its public safety officers and one of its supervisors on administrative leave over the mistreatment of a black Columbia University student.
A video of the incident, which went viral on various social media platforms over the weekend, showed 23-year-old Alexander Cecil McNab pinned down for not showing his student card at the Milstein Center for Teaching and Learning, CNN reported.
According to The Washington Post, McNab was looking for free food late Thursday night, leading him to the Milstein Center where Columbia students are allowed to study.
“Let me show you my ID,” McNab is heard telling the officers in the footage after a tense confrontation.
“You want to see my ID? I am a Columbia University student. You see this? That’s me. This is the third time Barnard Public Safety has chased me down and you put your hands on me. I didn’t touch any of you. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves!”
The incident caused backlash from members of the campus community, prompting Barnard president Sian Leah Beilock to tender a public apology.
“I sincerely apologize to the Columbia student involved and have reached out to him to better understand his experience on campus,” Beilock said in a statement. “I also apologize to the students who witnessed it and were treated disrespectfully, and to all who have felt its impact.”
The college has handed the investigation over to an independent firm which will thoroughly look at the circumstances leading to the incident and suggest recommendations to avoid similar incidents in the future.
A review of the training that public safety officers and supervisors at Barnard receive is also underway to ensure equitable treatment of all community members.
“All policies must be clear and equitably enforced regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or national origin,” Beilock added.
Last year in a similar incident, a Smith College staff member called campus police to report a student of color for reading and eating lunch in a common area. The college later agreed to create new guidelines for its employees on when to call campus police and promised to roll out a new “suspicious activities” policy for its police follow.