Yale University is rehiring an employee who illegally smashed a historic stained glass window because he thought it was racist, saying the employee deserves a second chance.
Corey Menafee worked as a dishwasher for Yale until late June, when he became so incensed over a stained glass window showing two black slaves picking cotton that he impulsively grabbed a broomstick and smashed the window. The stained glass window was decades old and was part of a series related to the life of John C. Calhoun, a slaveowner and U.S. senator for whom Yale’s Calhoun College is named for.
When asked about the matter, Menafee defended his action by saying “It’s 2016, I shouldn’t have to come to work and see things like that.”
Menafee was charged with a felony count of criminal mischief along with a misdemeanor of reckless endangerment, since a student was nearly hurt when Menafee sent the window tumbling to the ground outside. But Yale decided to drop the charges after Menafee agreed to resign from his job, although the school denies any deal was made.
But shortly after quitting, Menafee demanded his job back, and many activists in New Haven, Connecticut rallied to his support. Several argued that Yale would be racist if it didn’t allow Menafee to get off scot-free for his deed.
“What is more valuable to Yale: a stained-glass window of enslaved people picking cotton, or the humanity of the African-American people who work at Yale?” activist John Jairo Lugo of the group Unidad Latina en Accion argued last week.
Now, Yale has acquiesced, and has agreed to welcome Menafee back starting next week.
“We are willing to take these unusual steps given the unique circumstances of this matter, and it is now up to Mr. Menafee whether he wishes to return to Yale,” Yale said in a statement Tuesday. Menafee quickly accepted what the school described as a “second chance.”
Menafee won’t return to his old job as a dishwasher, but will instead be assigned a different responsibility.
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