EAST LANSING, Mich. – After a “vigorous investigation,” Michigan State University’s campus police determined that a noose reportedly hung outside of a student’s dorm room was not the “racial incident” that it seemed.
MSU President Lou Anna Simon issued a statement Wednesday morning about an alleged “racial incident” at Holden Hall reported by a student to the school’s Office of Institutional Equity, the Lansing State Journal reports.
“I was distressed this morning to learn of a racial incident in one of our residence halls. A student reported a noose was hung outside of her room. I want to recognize the courage it took for the student to report this incident,” Simon wrote, according to WILX.
“MSU Police and our Office of Institutional Equity were immediately notified, and both promptly began investigations. I want to be clear: This type of behavior is not tolerated on our campus. No Spartan should ever feel targeted by their race, or other ways in which they identify. A noose is a symbol of intimidation and threat that has a horrendous history in America,” she continued. “While at this time we do not know all of the details, the Spartan community can be assured we are vigorously investigating this situation.”
Hours later, MSU spokesman Jason Cody issued a new statement, according to WLNS.
“After investigating, MSU Police have determined the object was a packaged leather shoelace and not a noose. The matching packaged shoelace was found outside of the residence hall,” the statement read. “Officers located and spoke to the student who lost both of the shoelaces, which are packaged in a way that someone could perceive them to look similar to a noose. The student who lost the shoelaces lives on the same floor as the student who made the original report.
“Also, the original shoelace found inside the residence hall was not directed at any individual. It originally was seen on hallway floor and later on a stairwell door handle, where officers believe someone put it after picking it up,” the statement continued.
“As we did in this case, the university takes any reported racial incident very seriously. We feel it is important to quickly communicate what we know to the campus community and provide updates as necessary. MSU continues to provide support to the students involved.”
The incident isn’t the first time that overly sensitive college students have reported alleged hate crimes after finding a “noose” that later turned out to be something else.
The University of Delaware launched a hate crime investigation in 2015 after school police received several reports of nooses hanging in trees in The Green courtyard on campus, NBC Chicago reported at the time.
“UD Police are investigating a racist display found outside of Mitchell Hall tonight and it is being investigated as a hate crime,” University police wrote in a campus-wide email.
UD President Nancy Targett alleged the “cowardly and reprehensible acts are clearly designed to intimidate and frighten, and they are unacceptable on our campus.”
Targett also posted to Twitter that the campus must “stand together against intolerance.”
The next morning, she was forced to set the record straight, EAGnews reports.
“Earlier this morning I sent you an email about a student finding what was believed to be three nooses hanging from a tree in front of Mitchell Hall on The Green,” she wrote in a statement.
“Thanks to tips from students who responded to our earlier call for information and the investigative work of University of Delaware Police, it has been determined that the three noose-like items found outside Mitchell Hall were not instruments of a hate crime, but the remnants of paper lanterns from an event previously held on The Green.”