Yale University will allow Corey Menafee, an African-American dining-hall worker who intentionally broke a windowpane depicting slaves picking cotton, to begin working at the school again.
“Yale informed Mr. Menafee’s attorney that we are willing to grant his request for a second chance at Yale,” a statement released by Yale on Tuesday read.
“Mr. Menafee, who resigned in June after he admitted intentionally breaking a stained-glass window, has expressed deep remorse about his actions and informed us that he would like to rescind his resignation,” it continued.
The decision to reinstate Menafee, which Yale described as “unusual steps given the unique circumstances of this matter,” is a rather large reversal from the potential repercussions Menafee faced just a week ago.
He was at the New Haven courthouse on July 12 on a felony charge of criminal mischief and a misdemeanour charge of reckless endangerment.
Those charges have since been dropped, Yale’s statement indicated, and Yale is not looking for restitution for the $2,500 windowpane that was broken, according to the Yale Daily News.
Menafee had been a Yale dining-hall employee for about nine years before he resigned in June. The 38-year-old father of two was due to lose his health insurance at the end of the month, the YDN reported.
On Friday, he indicated that he wanted to continue working at the school.
“I would love to have my job back,” Menafee told the YDN, acknowledging that he was wrong for breaking the window. Still, he implied that that his actions were just and that he was acting on behalf of the desire of many others.
“To bring about some type of change — and obviously I’m not the only one who felt the need for that to picture to be removed — does feel good because I was able to do something that a lot of people wanted done,” Menafee told the YDN.
Support from the outside community was on display when roughly 40 community members, including Yale alumni and faculty members, joined Menafee in the courtroom last Tuesday.
“Yale has to decide which is more valuable: a stained-glass window, or the dignity and humanity of the black people who live and work at Yale,” Megan Fountain, an alumna and organiser of the rally to support Menafee, told The New York Times last Tuesday.
The incident comes on the heels of racial tension on Yale’s campus during the school year. Most recently, students and alumni protested the news that Calhoun College, one of 12 residential colleges, would retain its name despite calls for change. The college was named for John C. Calhoun, a 19th-century alumnus and a fervent supporter of slavery.
Calhoun is also the college where Menafee worked and broke the windowpane depicting slave workers.
It’s not yet clear what role Menafee will have with the university when he is reinstated.
“He will be allowed to return to a position in a different setting, starting on Monday, after serving a five-week unpaid suspension (including the time since his resignation on June 21),” Yale’s statement said.
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