A Massachusetts college has placed on leave the employee who called campus police to investigate a black student who was quietly eating her lunch in a common room.
The college, in a statement posted on its website Friday, said the staff member, whose name has not been released, will remain on leave while an external investigation is conducted.
Officials say that person called 911 Tuesday to report someone appeared "out of place" in the building on the Northampton campus.
The school said there was nothing suspicious, and Smith College President Kathleen McCartney has publicly apologized to the student.
"This painful incident reminds us of the ongoing legacy of racism and bias in which people of color are targeted while going about the business of their daily lives," McCartney said in a campus-wide email, according to the Boston Globe. "When we fall short of our responsibility to support our students, it is a particularly hard moment for all of us."
McCartney said the college is hiring a "third-party investigator" to review the incident and every Smith staff member will undergo mandatory anti-bias training.
The woman who has identified herself as the student posted on Facebook that it was outrageous she couldn't eat her lunch in peace.
"I am blown away at the fact that I cannot even sit down and eat lunch peacefully," she said. "I did nothing wrong. I wasn't making any noise or bothering anyone. All I did was be black. It's outrageous that some people question my being at Smith College, and my existence overall as a woman of color.
"I was very nervous and had a complete meltdown after this incident. It's just wrong and uncalled for," the woman continued. "No students of color should have to explain why they belong at prestigious white institutions. I worked my hardest to get into Smith, and I deserve to feel safe on campus."
The student has also demanded the employee's name, a private conversation with the employee and the administration and an apology from the school and the employee.