A noose found outside the main student center at Duke University thrust the campus into turmoil Wednesday, prompting an investigation, a student march and a forum that drew hundreds to the steps of Duke Chapel.
“One person put up that noose, but this is the multitude of people who got together to say, ‘That’s not the Duke we want, that’s not the Duke we’re here for and that’s not the Duke we’re here to create,’” Duke President Richard Brodhead said to a sea of people standing at the center of campus late Wednesday afternoon.
The gathering was the culmination of a tense day. The noose was discovered around 2 a.m. in the Bryan Center plaza. Word spread quickly on social media, as students posted photographs of the yellow rope dangling from a tree. Duke police responded, and officials launched an investigation to hold the perpetrators accountable.
The incident caused distress on what should have been a day of excitement as the Duke men’s basketball team prepares to play in the Final Four this weekend. Tours were underway for parents and high school students considering Duke, and the campus was bright with spring blooms.
By midday, the Black Student Alliance led a crowd of students who marched to the area where the noose was found. There, tacked to a tree trunk, a sign said: “To the cowards of Duke University. We are not afraid. We stand together.”
People huddled, some arm in arm. A circle of students embraced and bowed their heads, as if in prayer.
Amani Carson, a sophomore from Rye, N.Y., said she had passed by the spot about 11 p.m. Tuesday and saw nothing. Then, around 2 a.m., social media exploded with news of the discovery. She kept turning her phone off and on, trying to process what she was reading.
“Is this a joke? Because this can’t happen,” she recalled thinking. “But it did.”
Carson said she had hosted an African-American high school student last weekend and was thankful the noose didn’t appear then. But now she wonders what she’ll tell the student.
“I don’t know how in good conscience I can tell her to come here, because I don’t even know if I feel safe,” said Carson, who was raised in Massachusetts. “Like, what am I supposed to say?”
People made their way to the chapel late in the day where speakers, one by one, denounced the act. A Duke administrator estimated the crowd at more than 1,000. Some held signs, and others hugged with tears in their eyes.
Source: News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C. | Jane Stancill