Here’s another example of academic racial folderol, this time at Barnard College, where past historical grievance collided with a more benevolent present.
Many of us have come to realize that black Americans were denigrated, delegitimized and discriminated at every turn of U.S. history. But in attempting to right past wrongs, the largely white academic establishment can’t get it right.
At Barnard, a sister school to Columbia University, a minor incident involving a black student and the college’s security staff has roiled the campus.
Columbia senior Alexander McNab, who is black, entered Barnard’s gate after 11 p.m. on April 11. For safety, visitors to Barnard must show ID after 11 p.m.
McNab, who says he had been stopped several times on campus, refused. He told CNN that someone — presumably a security officer — shouted, “Hello, sir, hello, sir,” numerous times but that he ignored him. When guards caught up to McNab, he says one of them “placed his hand on my shoulder.”
He told CNN, “I raised my voice to communicate what was happening to me. I said, ‘I am not going to show you my ID.’ ” Asked by Don Lemon why not, he offered no credible explanation. In the end, McNab was briefly pinned down before he showed his ID.
The interesting part: the reaction of Barnard’s and Columbia’s administration.
A Barnard statement said: “The confrontation puts into stark relief what some members of the Barnard College community, particularly people of color, have been saying about their relationship with the Office of Public Safety and the lack of trust they have in it to keep them safe. We must ensure that public safety officers act equitably toward all and that community trusts this will occur.”
A Columbia statement said: “The more recent climate of racism and inflammatory rhetoric in both the country and the world at large continues to demonstrate a rising trend that targets marginalized populations. We are disturbed that such incidents continue to occur so close to home, and share in the hurt and pain many of you may be feeling.”
There was no mention of why McNab refused to show his ID, or what might have happened if the security staff allowed unidentified visitors to roam through Barnard. In short, you can’t have safety rules if rules are not followed. Not using common sense makes no sense.
Instead, Barnard placed its security staff and its supervisor on administrative leave — for doing their jobs.