Winston-Salem State University officials are speaking out after video showed the classroom arrest of a student who said she was detained "for not apologizing to a white professor."
Haley Gingles, a spokesperson for the HBCU, told CNN that the now-viral incident unfolded after what “appears to be a disagreement over a class assignment,” between a WSSU student, identified as Leilla Marie on social media, and a professor believed to be Dr. Cynthia Villagomez.
The university did not confirm their identities.
In a video widely circulated online, two police officers appear to handcuff the student as she repeatedly yells “I hate you" at her professor.
“You’re the worst teacher ever. You get me taken out in handcuffs because I won’t apologize?" the student says, per the video. "Because I won’t apologize, you started yelling at me. You tried to embarrass me about my paper.”
Following the incident, Marie took to Instagram Live to detail the events leading up to the arrest. The WSSU student said Villagomez informed her that a group assignment she completed was done incorrectly and needed revising just “six hours before” she was set to present it in front of the class.
Marie refused to revise the project in the short time frame, she said on Instagram. She came to class "frustrated," but ready to present the project as is. Villagomez said presenting the unrevised project would "greatly impact" her grade, which prompted a shouting match between the two, according to Marie.
Police allegedly were called after the professor told Marie to "either apologize or you need to leave" the classroom and the student refused, per her Instagram live.
According to the school's spokesperson, police weren't called by the professor in the video, but by another faculty member “only after their de-escalation efforts failed.” The student was ultimately arrested by university police on charges of disorderly conduct, Gingles said.
The university’s chancellor, Elwood Robinson, released a letter addressing the arrest.
“We understand that the weaponization of police is a prevalent problem in our community; however, that is not what happened in this incident,” Robinson wrote.“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.”
“We know you want immediate answers,” he continued in the letter. “However, the speed of our processes does not match the speed of social media. 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.”
Disciplinary actions against the student “will be under review at a later time,” the WSSU spokesperson said. As for the professor, Gingles said: “She is very emotional and shaken by all of this. There have been several threats to her safety, which of course are cause for alarm.”