An African-American dishwasher at Yale University has lost his job after breaking what he described as a “racist, very degrading” stained-glass window panel at one of the university’s dining halls, the New Haven Independent reports. The panel depicted two slaves picking cotton.
Last month, Corey Menafee was working in Yale’s Calhoun residential college dining hall—named for former vice president John C. Calhoun, an advocate of slavery—when, on an impulse, he decided to reach up with a broomstick and knock the panel out of its frame. From the Independent:
Menafee, who is 38 years old, said he wasn’t motivated by allegiance to student activists when, while helping clean the hall on Monday, June 13, he decided on a sudden impulse to knock the panel down.
“I took a broomstick, and it was kind of high, and I climbed up and reached up and broke it,” he said. “It’s 2016, I shouldn’t have to come to work and see things like that.”
“I just said, ‘That thing’s coming down today. I’m tired of it,’” he added. “I put myself in a position to do it, and did it.”
Students and faculty have called for Calhoun’s name to be changed; Yale President Peter Salovey announced in April that that would not be happening. Recently, Yale changed the title used by certain members of the school administration from “master” to “head of college.”
Menafee lost his job, he told the Independent, because the university deemed him a threat to students; he’d been working at the school since September 2007. “I didn’t commit any acts of violence against anyone or any living thing,” he said. “I didn’t be belligerent, or yell. I just broke the windows.”
Jonathan Holloway, dean of Yale’s undergraduate college, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Gawker.
UPDATE: After this post was published, Yale spokesman Tom Conroy sent Gawker this statement:
An incident occurred at Calhoun College, a residential college on the campus of Yale University, in which a stained glass window was broken by an employee of Yale, resulting in glass falling onto the street near a passerby, endangering her safety.
The employee apologized for his actions and subsequently resigned from the University. The University will not advocate that the employee be prosecuted in connection with this incident and is not seeking restitution.