This morning I found an email from our U president. Here is part of it (emphasis is mine):
Tuesday afternoon, October 30, a Small Town U undergraduate, in what he reports to have been a group art project, hung several nooses and a tire swing from a tree on Busy Avenue on the main campus. Several students observed and were alarmed by the display and called the university police. In response to the students who confronted him, the student explained that he did not intend this to be racially motivated and apologized profusely for his actions. The police questioned the student and immediately removed the display.
I am deeply troubled by this incident and the insensitivity that it reflects. I am angered and dismayed that any person on this campus, particularly in light of the recent incidents in Jena, Mississippi, would even unintentionally create such a display. Dean So-and-so and others have met with many of the students who witnessed the display, assuring them in every way possible that the insensitive actions of this individual is the antithesis of the values we hold dear at Small Town U. I am most troubled that African American students, who have put their trust in Small Town U, had to confront the historic symbols of injustice and hatred in this country.
We have a mostly white student population (< 10% are non-white). I am also dismayed that any student would be that ignorant of the racial implications of doing something like this. I think the title of this post is the only explanation.