Two cords with loops that may represent nooses were found in a tree along the Lake Lagunita walking trail early Monday morning, according to an email from Vice Provost for Institutional Equity, Access and Community Patrick Dunkley and Senior Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students Mona Hicks.
While the Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS), in collaboration with a campus arborist, determined in their investigation that the ropes have likely been hanging for 18 to 24 months, Dunkley and Hicks wrote that they “cannot be certain whether the ropes were deliberately fashioned in the shape of nooses, or were part of an abandoned swing or rope ladder.”
Still, they condemned the incident, writing that “a noose is a potent symbol of anti-Black racism and violence that is completely unacceptable under any circumstances.”
This sighting is not the first of its kind. In the summer of 2019, shortly before these ropes were likely hung, a noose was found tied to a bush on the lawn of the Columbae House. The incident was reported to SUDPS as a hate crime.
Although it is not yet confirmed that the cords found today were nooses, Stanford’s same-day response represents a change of pace in communication compared to the 2019 statement, which came five days after the noose was reported. Some groups, such as the Graduate Student Council, condemned Stanford’s 2019 response for being delayed and lacking actionable next steps.
Dunkley and Hicks acknowledged the compounded emotions students may feel in receiving the email in light of the previous incident and considering recent survey results, which revealed that 63% of Black respondents had experienced at least one microaggression on campus.
The Dean of Students Office connected with the student who reported the cords via telephone and email and will continue offering support, according to the email. Dunkley and Hicks also referred students, faculty and staff to mental health resources, but it remains to be seen what other measures will be taken to promote solidarity and healing as this investigation continues.
Anyone with additional information on the incident should contact SUDPS at (650) 329-2413 or the 24/7 communications center at (650) 329-2413, according to the email.