For the two Native American brothers, Colorado State University was their dream school.
But when they showed up for a campus tour, a parent of another prospective student called the police on them because they apparently made her “nervous,” the school said.
Critics are holding up the incident as just the latest example of racial profiling. In the past few days, two African American men were arrested for sitting in a Philadelphia Starbucks; a group of African American women had the cops called on them at a golf course for playing too slow; and a gym was forced to apologize after a member felt he was racially profiled and asked to leave.
“This incident is sad and frustrating from nearly every angle, particularly the experience of two students who were here to see if this was a good fit for them as an institution,” school officials said.
They arrived a little late for the tour
The teens saved their own money to take the family’s only car and drive 7 hours from New Mexico to Fort Collins, Colorado, to visit the campus Monday, their mother told reporters with CNN affiliates KOAT and KRQE.
“This was their dream school, and I wanted to give them that opportunity,” the mother, Lorraine Kahneratokwas Gray, said.
By the time they showed up, the tour had already begun.
“A parent participating in the tour called campus police because she was nervous about the presence of two young men who joined the tour while it was in progress,” the school said.
Officers responded and pulled the young men aside while the tour continued on ahead without them.
When the police confirmed the brothers were part of the tour, they let them rejoin the group. But by that time, the tour had moved on, the school said.
“It breaks my heart, because they didn’t do anything to warrant that,” Gray told the affiliate. “They’re walking on their own ancestors’ land, so it breaks my heart.”
School says it regrets the incident
Colorado State officials said they are working to ensure there’s not a repeat of such an incident. They’ve also reached out to the students’ family.
“As a university community, we deeply regret the experience of these students while they were guests on our campus,” they said. “The fact that these two students felt unwelcome on our campus while here as visitors runs counter to our principles of community.”
Colorado’s Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne said her office was concerned as well. Lynne also serves as the chair of Colorado’s Commission on Indian Affairs.
“We want to reiterate our commitment to ensuring our public universities are open and welcoming to all students and hope that the young men will not be deterred in their pursuit of attending college in Colorado, a traditional homeland to many tribal nations,” Lynne said.