Higher education scholars discuss the troubling arrest of Leila Hamoud by university police officers in her classroom.
Following a verbal disagreement with a professor, Winston-Salem State University student Leila Hamoud was arrested for misdemeanor disorderly conduct. In response to a video of the 20-year-old Black student being reprimanded by campus police, CSHPE doctoral student Jarell Skinner-Roy published an op-ed in The Conversation. It is important, he writes, “not to see these incidents as unfortunate yet isolated cases.”
In a separate op-ed published in Diverse Issues in Higher Education Assistant Professor Charles H.F. Davis III, Skinner-Roy, and fellow CSHPE doctoral student Brandy Jones responded to the same incident. The authors note: “This is at least the second instance this year in which a non-Black professor has been involved in treating a Black student with hostility and violence before attempting to remove them from a classroom setting.”
“The WSSU incident is emblematic of how individual and institutional acts of retribution rely upon and utilize policing as a tactic to manage classroom incivility,” the authors continue. “It also represents the present threat of violence as a consequence for Black students who fail to comply with the authority ascribed to college and university faculty.”
The arrest of Leila Hamoud, which took place at an HBCU, is “especially alarming,” write Davis, Jones, and Skinner-Roy. They note, “the institutional response in the wake of national attention suggests WSSU is falsely equating the idea of safety with the presence and utility of police.”
In The Conversation, Skinner-Roy lays out several steps colleges and universities can take to re-think their approach to campus policing. First, he writes, they should examine current practices and policies through an abolitionist lens. Second, in the course of their review, the institutions should prioritize the experiences and voices of students—especially racially marginalized students. “Lastly," he writes, "I believe higher education must begin to redirect funding for campus police toward other programs and services that keep students healthy and safe, such as mental health services or organizations that push for alternatives to police and prisons.”