In spite of an investigation which revealed that several loops of rope found dangling from a tree at the University of Delaware were not actually nooses as was first believed, hundreds of students joined by campus administrators went forward with a mass gathering on the campus green on Wednesday to discuss the importance of diversity and racial sensitivity on campus.
The purported “nooses” were discovered hanging in a tree on campus on Tuesday evening and University officials immediately jumped to the conclusion that they constituted a hate crime.
But within hours the “nooses” were revealed to be left over from an alumni event in June when they were used to suspend paper lanterns from the tree. One student even came forward to admit taking down one of the lanterns to decorate her dorm room, leaving the rope attached to the tree.
But none of that deterred the students and administrators who used the incident as an excuse for a mass outpouring of grievances about the University’s lack of diversity and racial sensitivity.
Student Amina Agyeman who was quoted by DelawareOnline.com opined:
Diversity isn't something UD can say it's already achieved because it hasn't. You can't fulfill a multicultural requirement with a history of fashion class... it's about teaching an experience.
Rick Deadwyler, the University’s director of government relations, insisted that the discovery of the “nooses” should spark continued efforts and conversation on campus:
We need it put it in the rear view mirror where it belongs – not to forget it, but to move forward. Please don't let this thing stop at 5:30 today.
University Vice Provost of Diversity Carol Henderson told the assembled students that the administration is in the process of approving a new diversity action plan:
We hear you. We see you. We need to walk arm in arm with them and say 'I am concerned because you are concerned.'
DelawareOnline reports that the Black Lives Matter movement—which held a silent protest on campus on Monday in response to a campus speech by Fox News commentator Kate Pavlich who has called the organization a “violent hate group”—figured prominently in Wednesday’s gathering:
Throughout the night, speakers and signs referenced the Black Lives Matter movement, which has sparked national attention in recent months. The chant – used to remind people that black lives matter just as much as white ones, students said – has become a rallying cry in the wake of black men repeatedly dying across the country at the hands of police.
Even the vast rally in support of diversity did not reassure some students who rejected the innocent explanation for the “nooses.”
Elexis Keels, of Washington, D.C., said the discovery unsettled her.
"I shouldn't feel unsafe walking past a building where there were supposedly nooses hanging down," she said, "but I do.... I don't think it was paper lanterns."