An IU bus driver was temporarily suspended after she berated a black man on a campus bus Tuesday, yelling at him to go to the back or get off.
The incident took place around 5:45 p.m. while the A bus was stopped at the Maurer School of Law bus stop. Graduate student Velencia Posso was on the bus when she said the driver, who is white, yelled at the man because he wouldn't move to the back of the bus or get off while more students got on.
“She was screaming at the top of her lungs,” Posso said.
IU spokesperson Chuck Carney said in an email that the driver was suspended until Feb. 17, and the incident is being investigated. He said he didn’t know the name of the driver.
Carney gave the Indiana Daily Student footage from inside the bus which shows the whole incident.
In the video, the man was already standing toward the front on the driver's side of the bus when the driver stopped at the law school. As students got on the bus, the driver repeatedly told the man to move back, and at one point, threatened to call the police.
“You have two choices — go back or get off the bus,” the driver said.
The man stayed on the bus as other students left. Witnesses said they don’t know the name of the man.
Senior Therese Capriglione confronted the driver to try and calm her down, telling her the man was well behind the yellow line and she felt the driver’s actions were "racially motivated."
Capriglione said the driver was offended and continued to argue with her, grabbing her by the arm.
“Oh give me a break,” the driver can be heard yelling in the video. “I’m not allowed to talk to someone?”
Posso and graduate student Kendyll Owens were sitting in the back of the bus when the incident took place.
Posso said the back of the bus was full but there was plenty of room in the front where the man was standing. Students on the bus were shouting that it’s Black History Month and recorded the incident, she said.
Owens said she also went to speak with the driver to try and calm her down.
“I didn’t know what to do, but because I’m a graduate student who is also black, I couldn’t just stand there and watch this happen,” Owens said. “I felt compelled to say something.”
After the driver argued with Capriglione, she continued to drive down Third Street before turning down Indiana Avenue. Owens said she was driving at an unsafe speed and was not looking at the road.
Owens said she filed a complaint to the IU Campus Bus Service. She said they responded and said they are investigating the incident.
Director of Bias Response Cedric Harris said as of Thursday morning his department has not received a formal report about the incident.
Harris said he hears stories from students that incidents like these are happening on campus, but he can’t do much without a report.
Harris said his goal is to educate students and make them aware that the bias response team is here on campus. He said the collective student and faculty body needs to hold people accountable.
“You really can’t prevent hardly anything from happening, but what you can do is provide enough information or education to help,” Harris said.
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