Students are outraged and police and university officials are investigating after a noose was found hanging from a tree at Duke University Wednesday morning.
Few students ever saw the noose, which was discovered and removed by 2:45 a.m., but the condemnation has been strong and swift.
“To whomever committed this hateful and stupid act, I just want to say that, if your intent was to create fear, it will have the opposite effect,” Duke vice president of student affairs Larry Moneta wrote in an email to students. “In time, each of these cowardly acts of bias and hatred will strengthen our resolve to love and support each other.” Duke has also announced that it will hold a public forum about the incident tonight on the steps of Duke chapel.
The controversy at Duke comes two weeks after a black student claimed she was accosted by several white students who chanted the racist song that caused the expulsion of two students at the University of Oklahoma last month. Student leaders cited the most recent incident as evidence of severe racial issues at Duke.
“Unfortunately, what happened last night is indicative of a pervasive problem of prejudice, bias and racism on this campus,” said student body president Lavanya Sunder and president-elect Keizra Mecklai in a statement. “The Duke community cannot allow this culture of intolerance to exist any longer.”
While Duke’s students rush to judgment, it must be considered a possibility the noose wasn’t intended as a racist threat, but rather as a hoax. Fake hate crimes have occurred many time on college campuses in years past.
In 2004, a professor at Claremont McKenna College was convicted of filing a false police report after she spray-painted racist slogans on her own car and then blamed it on students. At UC San Diego in 2010, an anonymous student who claimed to be a minority apologized for leaving a noose hanging on campus. In 2012, a black student at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside confessed to police that she had left multiple nooses around campus and fabricated a “hit list” against herself and several other black students.
However, some racist threats end up being real, as well. Just days ago, a former student at Ole Miss University was indicted for hanging a noose and Confederate flag around the school’s statue of James Meredith, its first black student.
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