The black Yale dishwasher who resigned after smashing a stained glass window that showed slaves picking cotton can now return to his job, according to school officials.
The 38-year-old employee, Corey Menafee, was arrested on June 15 after he broke a window panel in the dining hall of Calhoun College with a broomstick because of its slave imagery. In a statement released on Tuesday, Yale spokeswoman Karen Peart said Yale would like to welcome Menafee back. “Yale informed Mr. Menafee’s attorney that we are willing to grant his request for a second chance at Yale,” she said. “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.”
The statement further framed the incident as an act of repentance on Menafee’s part, rather than an act of frustration that resulted from having to look at slaves all day at his place of employment. “He will be allowed to return to a position in a different setting, starting on Monday, after serving a five-week unpaid suspension,” Peart added in the statement. “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.”
Menafee initially faced charges of reckless endangerment and criminal mischief. No charges were filed and Yale officials later claimed Menafee chose to resign from his position. According to the New Haven Independent, Yale’s VP of Communications Eileen O’Connor said his resignation was “not a condition of Yale declining to pursue the charges.”
As of Tuesday, Menafee said he hadn’t been told he could return and that he was still unclear when that reinstatement would happen. He told the Wall Street Journal, “Nothing has been determined.” Gothamist reports:
Patricia Kane, Menafee’s attorney, told the paper that the announcement from Yale was premature, as she was still in negotiations with the school. She said Local 35 UNITE HERE, the union representing service workers at Yale, would issue a response.
“Mr. Menafee, together with representatives from our union, talked with Yale yesterday,” stated UNITE HERE President Bob Proto on Tuesday afternoon. “We stood firm in asking that the University rehire him. We are now waiting on a draft agreement from Yale and will continue to stand with Mr. Menafee until he is back at work.”
The window-breaking incident is just the latest in Yale’s recent racial tensions involving student protests over the university’s history of racism.
“When I walked into this job, I wasn’t aware of none of that,” Menafee told the Independent after the incident. “And then you know, being there, you start hearing different things... It’s 2016, I shouldn’t have to come to work and see things like that. I just said, ‘That thing’s coming down today. I’m tired of it.’”
Images via Getty; Yale press