Possible nooses were reported along the Lake Lagunita walking trail at Stanford University on Monday, university administrators announced in an email to the campus community.
A student contacted the university early Monday morning after finding "two cords with loops that may represent nooses" in a tree near the intersection of Campus Drive and Junipero Serra Boulevard, Vice Provost for Institutional Equity, Access and Community Patrick Dunkley and Senior Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students Mona Hicks wrote in their email.
Stanford's Department of Public Safety responded to the scene with a university arborist and determined that the cords had likely been there 18-24 months, based on "weathering and tree growth," the statement said.
"We cannot be certain whether the ropes were deliberately fashioned in the shape of nooses, or were part of an abandoned swing or rope ladder," Dunkley and Hicks said. "To be clear, a noose is a potent symbol of anti-Black racism and violence that is completely unacceptable under any circumstances."
Monday's announcement isn't the first time in recent years that possible nooses have been found on Stanford's campus. In July 2019, an education adviser for an on-campus summer program for high school students reported finding a noose hanging from a bush.
In that case, it took Stanford administrators five days to release a public statement on the incident. The delay was condemned by some campus groups, including the Graduate Student Council, the Stanford Daily reported.
This time around, Stanford released a statement the same day that the possible nooses were reported.
"This information is being shared with you so that everyone is informed as we move forward together as a community committed to calling out and addressing racism," Dunkley and Hicks said.
Dunkley and Hicks wrote that they know Monday's announcement "is a very difficult communication to receive, and could compound anger and disappointment" given the noose found in 2019 and the recently released results of a campus wide diversity, equity and inclusion survey.
The survey, conducted in May, revealed that 63% of Black respondents reported experiencing at least one microaggression, and 50% of Black respondents said they had encountered a space at Stanford where they felt marginalized or excluded. In total, almost 15,000 students, postdocs, faculty and staff participated in the survey.
Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to call Stanford's Department of Public Safety at 650-723-9633 or the department's 24/7 communications center at 650-329-2413.