While taking a tour of the Colorado State University campus earlier this week, the mother of a prospective student called campus police on two Native Americans.
According to The Denver Post, the mother, who was not named, called CSU campus police because two young Native Americans who were on the tour were making her “nervous” despite them not personally engaging with her or disrupting her experience. When police arrived, they reportedly pulled the two Native Americans aside and questioned them. While the prospective students — who were visiting the campus from their home in New Mexico — were eventually released without being arrested, they eventually left campus.
“[T]he fact that these two students felt unwelcome on our campus while here as visitors run counter to our Principles of Community,” the university said in a statement about the incident, while also defending the campus police’s obligation to respond to a safety concern from someone on campus.
In an email to students, CSU vice presidents Leslie Taylor, Mary Ontiveros, and Blanche Hughes said they “deeply regret” the experience the two Native Americans had on campus.
“This incident is sad and frustrating from nearly every angle, particularly the experience of two students who were here to see if this was a good fit for them,” they said.
In response to the incident, the Colorado State Collegian ran an op-ed by editor Jayla Hodge entitled “Check your biases before calling police.”
“The fear of those different than us, especially from the white majority, is perpetuated by unfamiliarity and the media portraying people of color as dangerous,” she wrote. “Please stop calling the police on people of color simply because you think they look suspicious or out of place. Especially when they are doing completely normal things.”
“The reality is that people of color, particularly Black men, are more unsafe around white people, not the opposite way around. That’s the history of America,” she added.
Michael Boone is a freelance journalist and columnist writing about politics, government, race, and media. He graduated from Texas Southern University’s School of Communication, and lives in Houston’s Third Ward.