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A Black university professor was asked by campus security to prove she lived in her own house

Professor Danielle Morgan is one of seven Black professors at Santa Clara University, where her brother was followed home and needed her to prove she lived there.

A Black university professor was asked by campus security to prove she lived in her own house
Image Source: mos_daf / Twitter

Danielle Morgan is a Black assistant professor at Santa Clara University in California, where only two percent of the student body is Black. It is not just the student body that lacks diversity; Morgan is one of the seven Black faculty members in the university's College of Arts and Sciences. On Saturday morning, she was dancing in her room when she was interrupted by a campus security officer. Her brother Carlos Fuentes, who was visiting the campus after eight months due to the ongoing pandemic, had been followed back home by the security officer. She was then asked by the officer to prove that she indeed lived in her own home, CNN reports. An investigation has since been launched.

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The professor took to Twitter to share her experience. "My brother strictly quarantined for 14 days to come and see me and my children after eight months apart," she explained. "He had a work meeting at 8:30 am and so he went to campus to sit outside with his books and computer. SCU is beautiful, it's specifically designed so that students, faculty, and staff have the opportunity to work outside. Campus security came up to my brother in the midst of his meeting and told him to move along. He's been Black his whole life so he said okay. They followed him." They continued to follow him even though Fuentes was no longer on campus property. At this point, there were four campus security cars following him. An officer had been following him all the way to Morgan's home.

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"I'm so sorry about this," Fuentes told his sister when she opened the door. "They're demanding you come out and vouch for me." Morgan went outside to speak with the campus security officer, who aggressively demanded to see her campus ID. The officer wanted Morgan to "prove you are who [Fuentes said] you are and that you actually live here." She went back inside her home to grab her ID—and her White husband. Her husband informed the officer, when they went back outside, that she was not required to provide her ID. This is when the situation escalated and the officer called his supervisor. Morgan stated, "I asked what the issue was and he said my brother was 'in the bushes' and it was 'suspicious.' They thought he may have been homeless."

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When asked why she had to show her ID, the professor was told, "Well, it's not your home. The University owns it." Morgan and her husband proceeded to explain why the officers' actions were a representation of anti-Blackness, and proved "why we need to abolish the police and immediately divest from the city police department on campus." Finally, the campus security simply told the family to "stay in open spaces," a response that was "unclear and insufficient," according to Morgan. An investigation into the incident has since been launched. Santa Clara University President Kevin O'Brien SJ wrote in a letter to the campus community that he was "deeply sorry for the hurtful incident."

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He affirmed, "No work is more important than our efforts to realize a more inclusive, welcoming and safe campus where all are respected and valued." However, the experience has left Professor Morgan shaken. "I was interrupted in a place where I'm supposed to be safe," she said in an interview with CNN. "We know from history and present day, that Black people are not safe in their homes. We're not safe in church, we're not safe on the streets, we're not safe in our classrooms. So where do we find sanctuary?" She also stated that she felt a "strange sense of gratitude" as the situation could have ended on a much more tragic note. She asserted in conclusion, "But this shouldn't happen to anyone, regardless of their education or their standing. This is egregious because this should not happen to Black people, period."

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