Winston-Salem State University faces pushback after student is arrested in a classroom

A video of the incident has gone viral on social media


Courtesy of Collegiateluxe

A viral video shows a student being arrested in a Winston-Salem State University classroom.

Christa Dutton, Editor-in-Chief

A viral video depicting the arrest of 20-year-old Winston-Salem State University student Leilla Hamoud has led to criticism of the university.

Hamoud was arrested inside a classroom in Carolina Hall around 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday for disorderly conduct, according to a university police report.

In a now-deleted video on Instagram, Hamoud said that the incident began when her professor, Dr. Cynthia Villagomez, began to yell at her about an essay she wrote for a group project. Hamoud said that she also raised her voice at her professor.

Hamoud said that Villagomez asked her to either apologize or leave the classroom. Hamoud refused to leave and soon after, two campus police officers arrived and arrested her. A nearby faculty member— not Villagomez — called for assistance from law enforcement, according to a statement released by the university.

In one of the videos circulating on social media, Hamoud can be heard telling police officers, “you’re hurting me really bad.” The video shows Villagomez trying to gain control of the classroom, and Hamoud tells Villagomez, “I swear to God I hate you. You’re the worst teacher ever. You’re getting me taken out in handcuffs because I won’t apologize.”

Hamoud and Villagomez have not returned the Old Gold & Black’s request for comment.

On Wednesday, the university’s chancellor, Dr. Elwood Robinson, released a statement to the campus community.

“In accordance with law enforcement procedures, our officers’ first priority is to assess the situation and provide every opportunity for a positive resolution,” the statement reads. “As situations escalate, their responsibility is to ensure the safety of the students, faculty and staff members that are present.”

In the statement, Elwood recognizes that “the weaponization of police is a prevalent problem in our community” but says “that is not what happened in this incident.”

Haley Gingles, Chief Marketing Officer at Winston-Salem State, did not return the Old Gold & Black’s request for comment. She told the Winston-Salem Journal that “We support the processes that were in place yesterday, and they were followed.”

University administrators have received backlash from students and others on social media. Students created a petition demanding the removal of Villagomez and the officers who arrested Hamoud. The petition has received 1,628 signatures at the time of publication.

According to reporting in the Winston-Salem Journal, Hamoud was taken to a Forsyth County magistrate and released with a written promise to appear. She is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 25.