UF journalism professor discovers noose on lectern, President Fuchs responds
A University of Florida journalism professor found a noose on a lectern in his classroom, the university's president said in a campuswide email on Thursday.
"While we do not know why the rope was placed there or the intention, recent reports indicate it may have been a prank," president Kent Fuchs wrote. "Nonetheless, the shameful and deplorable history that nooses evoke opens wounds, particularly for members of the Black community."
University police are investigating. A report by Central Florida's WUFT says the noose was left after the Theatre Strike Force improv organization held auditions in Weimer Hall, where it was tied as an apparent joke.
“Us being dumb college students doing comedy, after auditions ended, we noticed the rope,” student Michael Springthorpe wrote in a text message to WUFT. He watched it get tied, he said, but students didn't untie it when they left.
The group later released this statement:
“After the conclusion of a TSF event, an unknown member participated in actions that TSF neither knew about nor condones. We apologize for any distress it may have caused. We are communicating with our members to ensure that something like this does not happen again.”
Fuchs said he hopes the entire UF community will support people who are targeted by hateful symbols, which undermine the spirit of understanding and respect he said the university strives for.
"I also want to be clear that racial discrimination has no place at our university," he wrote. "I affirm my support for our Black students, staff and faculty and am pleased to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy with many of them beginning tonight at a vigil at the Institute of Black Culture."
He asked anyone with information about the incident, as well as any victims of a crime, to speak with the police. For those who are victims of discrimination, he said, the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs can be of help.
"Together, I hope our community will reject racism and violence in all forms and join together to make our university a welcoming place for everyone," he wrote.
Fuchs released a similar statement in the fall as post-election turmoil brought vandalism and racial discrimination to the UF campus.