Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon released a statement on Wednesday to proclaim that she was "distressed" upon learning that a a "student reported a noose was hung outside of her room.” The university president praised that student’s “courage” for bringing the “racial incident” to light on the campus in central Michigan. Simon said in her message, “This type of behavior is not tolerated on our campus,” and added that no MSU student "should ever feel targeted based on their race, or other ways in which they identify.” Simon said, "A noose is a symbol of intimidation and threat that has a horrendous history in America."
However, an investigation by campus police revealed a deeper story. MSU police determined, according to campus spokesman Jason Cody in a news release, that the alleged noose was actually a "packaged leather shoelace and not a noose.” The statement added, that the the leather shoelaces “are packaged in a way that someone could perceive them to look similar to a noose.”
Looking deeper into the situation, campus police identified the student who had lost the shoelaces. They determined that the student in question lives on the same floor as the student who made the report about the alleged noose. Spokesman Cody said, “Also, the original shoelace found inside the residence hall was not directed at any individual.” Police theorize that someone found the shoelace and put it on a stairwell door handle after picking it up from the floor.
Cody added, "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."
Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.