Administrators at California’s Stanford University said they are investigating “two cords with loops that may represent nooses” found hanging on campus, and encouraged those disturbed by the discovery to seek mental health counseling.
The items in question were found in a tree along a walking trail on early Monday morning, reported student newspaper The Standford Review, citing an email sent to students, faculty, and staff from Dean of Students Mona Hicks and Vice Provost for Institutional Equity, Access, and Community Patrick Dunkley.
The campus safety department “promptly investigated the incident with a campus arborist,” who determined in their investigation that the cords appeared to have been hanging there for 18 to 24 months, the email reads.
“We cannot be certain whether the ropes were deliberately fashioned in the shape of nooses, or were part of an abandoned swing or rope ladder,” Hicks and Dunkley wrote.
That being said, the administrators condemned the incident, noting that “a noose is a potent symbol of anti-black racism and violence that is completely unacceptable under any circumstances.” They also referred the campus community to mental health resources.
“This information is being shared with you so that everyone is informed as we move forward together as a community committed to calling out and addressing racism,” they wrote at the end of the message.
This is not the first time Stanford experienced a noose scare. In July 2019, a student reported a noose, found tied to a bush on the lawn of a dorm building, to the campus police as a hate crime. She “believed the noose was meant to intimidate and threaten her and other students of color” who were living in another dorm building nearby.
Similar panics have taken place in other American college and universities campuses as well. In May, a pair of black Penn State University professors called the police over a “noose” that they believed was “deliberately placed” on a tree behind their residence to harass them and their family. The alleged hate crime prompted Penn State President Eric Barron to issue a statement to “express concern and offer support,” although the local police chief later concluded that the rope was actually part of a swing set and just happened to fall on that tree when a neighbors’ kid threw it “into the woods.”
In a more recent incident, a U.S. flag displayed from a construction site over Memorial Day weekend triggered an angry response at Central Connecticut State University after students claimed that the flag appeared to be attached to a noose. It was later found that the flag was flown on a crane’s steel cable with a loop at its end, which is commonly used in construction and with varieties widely available at appliance stores.