Stanford University's investigation into a noose found hanging from a bush on campus earlier this month has found that some witnesses reported seeing the rope for as long as two weeks to several months, according to an update issued on Friday, July 26. University leaders have tapped on several campus offices to offer support services for students and staff affected by the discovery.
The noose was found around 11:20 p.m. on July 12 by an education adviser for an on-campus summer program for high school students. She called 911 and posted a photo on Twitter, where it quickly gained national attention. Deputies from Stanford's Department of Public Safety arrived about an hour after the noose was reported due to a separate call made at 11:37 p.m. of people seen forcing their way into a locked building. Once they completed the call for service, they headed to the location where the noose found. The deputies removed the rope and searched the surrounding area for more evidence. They also spoke with those at the residence and the woman who reported the noose, who was staying at a different residence nearby.
The deputies met with FBI agents who specialize in the investigation of hate crimes and civil rights violations. The department also alerted the Acts of Intolerance office, which assists with bias-related incidents.
On Friday, July 26, the Department of Public Safety released a bulletin detailing a new development in the ongoing investigation.
While the student who first reported the noose asserted that it had not been present in the bush earlier in the day on July 12, some witnesses staying in houses nearby recalled seeing the rope in the bush for at least two weeks.
The witnesses told investigators that they were initially curious about the purpose of the rope, but determined that previous residents likely used it to hang decorations or other objects. They did not remove it as they were instructed not to tamper with any of the structures in or around the house when they moved in.
In additional interviews with landscapers, investigators found that the rope may have actually been in the bush for months before its discovery two weeks ago.
Now, the department is trying to gather more information to determine if the noose that was found on July 12 is in the same location or configuration as the rope that other witnesses reported seeing at varying times.
The bulletin includes an enlarged photo published in the Stanford Daily back in March, which appears to show a rope in the same bush where the noose was found, but investigators have not confirmed whether it is the same rope.
In the midst of this controversy, University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell wrote in a joint "Notes from the Quad" blog post published Friday, July 26, that another incident occurred on campus Thursday involving a whiteboard discovered outdoors near Kingscote Gardens at the southwest part of the campus with calls for violence against cities in the Middle East and Asia scrawled on it. The writings have since been removed.
"To be clear, behavior of the type that has occurred on campus recently is not acceptable," the university leaders wrote. "As members of this community, we seek to extend to one another the fundamental respect for each other's human dignity that leaves no room for such vitriol and hatred."
The support services for students and staff were outlined in a separate "Notes from the Quad blog post update on the incident released July 20, which offered more insight into the university's response to the report.
In response to the noose incident, Stanford's Counseling and Psychological Services offered drop-in office hours at the Black Community Services Center last Thursday, July 18. An administrator from the Acts of Intolerance office also met with the summer program that the educational adviser who reported the noose works for on Thursday, July 25.
Stanford's Counseling and Psychological Services, Bridge Peer Counseling Center, Graduate Life Office, Residence Deans, Office for Religious Life and Faculty Staff Help Center have offered resources for those who were impacted. The university also announced that it would be meeting with community members to receive feedback about how to respond to instances of hate and support those who are affected by the July 12 incident.
"A noose is widely recognized as a symbol of violence and racism directed particularly against African American people, as well as other people of color," Vice Provost of Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole and Department of Public Safety Chief Laura Wilson said in a joint "Notes from the Quad" blog post on Saturday, July 20. "Given a noose is a symbol representing a threat to life, it is a crime for an individual to hang a noose on a college campus for the purpose of terrorizing any person who is associated with the institution. Our community values affirm the dignity of all peoples and call upon us to speak out against racism and other forms of bias and discrimination in a voice of solidarity and shared humanity."
Anyone with information that could aid in the investigation is asked to call Stanford's Department of Public Safety at 650-329-2413.