Duke University is trying to identify the people who hung a noose from a tree on campus, an act that has left the university community reeling.
The noose was found early Wednesday, hanging from a tree on the Bryant Center Plaza, a popular campus hub. Police took the noose down, but the display drew anguish, horror and frustration on the Durham, North Carolina-based campus and across social media.
An investigation into the matter is underway.
People marched and chanted at a rally organized by the university’s Black Student Alliance, and a forum followed later in the day. Duke Student Government President Lavanya Sunder wants the student body to learn from what happened.
“I'm asking of us to say something else. Not, ‘This isn't us,’ but, ‘this cannot be us and this will not be us,’” Sunder said.
Duke social sciences dean Linda Burton took aim at the anonymous perpetrators.
“We are so much more than what is likely a smaller group of people with little minds,” Burton said.
Larry Moneta, the vice president of student affairs, called the display a “cowardly act of bias” in an email students.
“I can’t begin to describe the disgust and anger I felt, and still feel,” Moneta wrote. “Though it has since been removed, the photos are everywhere and its hateful message will sadly pervade and persist for a long time.”
University President Richard H. Brodhead spoke at a campus rally Wednesday.
“This is no Duke we will accept. This is no Duke we want,” Brodhead said. “This is not the Duke we are here to experience, and this is not the Duke we're here to create.”
Abigail LaBella, a Duke University graduate and member of the Professional Student Council, said she was horrified by the display.
“Those who propagate hate will not feel welcome here at our Duke,” LaBella said.
The noose display comes two weeks after another campus controversy in which a black female student said a group of white males chanted a racist song at her, mirroring a chant recited in a video showing members at a University of Oklahoma fraternity.