A black student said he was racially profiled by campus police last week, causing alumni to share stories of their own.
Broderick McQuarters, flute performance sophomore, said two officers entered his room and woke him up at 2 a.m. Sept. 27, saying they were investigating a broken parking garage sensor in Methodist Hall.
“They barged into my room while I was asleep. I didn’t even have clothes on. They looked at me and yelled at me to get up,” McQuarters said.
RA Tom Hoblin was with the officers. Hoblin said his superiors told him not to comment about it.
The officers told McQuarters they were looking for a black man. They questioned McQuarters because his truck was the last vehicle to pull into the Methodist Hall parking garage that night.
“Entering my room while I’m asleep, yelling at me to get up, questioning me without any proof that it was me, and then accusing me of the crime anyway is racial profiling,” McQuarters said.
There is no report of the officers going into McQuarters’s room, Bradd Brown, chief of police, said Friday. The police report about the broken sensor only mentions one suspect-a woman who later admitted it was her.
Brown said the information given to him reflects what was in the police report, which makes no mention of McQuarters.
“Sometimes there’s communication that takes place that is interpreted different ways,” he said. “I would highly encourage them to call us so we can look back at those processes and what our officers have done and make sure we are following what we need to do.”
McQuarters was hesitant to alert administrators because he thought they would brush it off, he said Friday.
“I just had to try and move on with my day because I knew there was nothing I could do about it,” he said. “If I were to go and tell the administration or the police department, they would try and justify it.”
McQuarters later met with Brown and Lesley Black, associate dean of students. McQuarters said they discussed the fact that the police report had discrepancies, namely that only one officer was involved in the sensor investigation.
He said they asked him what he thought should be done.
“They shouldn’t get away with it and walk away like nothing happened,” McQuarters said. “I’m not saying that they should be fired, but it shouldn’t be just a slap on the hand type of situation.”
McQuarters said the incident shouldn’t have happened, but that at least people are talking about racial bias now, which means things could get better.
“Continue to stay strong and support each other no matter what,” he said. “Standing as a unit will make more of a difference.”
McQuarters said he’s dealt with prejudice before and administrators need to take it more seriously.
After Donald Trump was elected president, a student called McQuarters and his friends “the N-word,” he said.
“The reason why I chose to go to school here is not because of its reputation as a music school, it’s because it felt safe,” he said. “But to have stuff like this constantly happen to me on campus is hard.”
Since the incident, alumni shared their own stories of how campus police have made them feel uncomfortable.
Alumna Patience Williams said her friend, a black man, came to visit her on campus a day after Cokesbury Court Apartments were broken into last semester.
“He couldn’t find parking and he called me to come outside. He looked nervous. I came outside and a campus police car was right behind him,” she said. “We spent about five to 10 minutes looking for a parking spot and the police car stayed on his ass.”
Williams said it was unnecessary for the police officer to follow them across campus.
Alumni Kevin Taylor and Valentino Valentin returned to campus last week to visit professors. Taylor said an officer wrote them a ticket for not having a parking permit and treated them disrespectfully.
Taylor said Valentin, a black man, asked for the officer’s name, but was ignored initially.
“As alumni, it pains us to see the police officer’s social conduct be so poor. There needs to be some kind of training on the approach of the police to all students,” Taylor said.
“Unfortunately, most of the police force at OCU are Caucasian. It’s difficult for students of color to respect or trust the forces employed to make the student population feel safe.”
McQuarter said racial bias happens so sporadically that people don’t see it as a big problem.
“It’s like a mosquito bite,” he said. “It happens often enough that we notice it, but other people just sweep it under the rug. I feel like it’s not addressed abruptly enough.”
Chief Brown was unavailable for comment Monday.
“We encourage somebody, if they feel like something’s out of the ordinary in any of our actions, to report that to us, so either I or a supervisor can look into more details,” Brown said Friday. “We want to make sure we’re always doing the right thing and the things we need to do.”
The non-emergency number for OCUPD is 405-208-5001.
Contributing: Staff Writer Alison Sloan