David McKibben, Los Angeles Times, November 16, 2007
The discovery of several nooses at a tolerance rally has upset the normally tranquil Cal State Fullerton campus.
The nooses were found attached to a T-shirt display denouncing intolerance. In response, hundreds of students and faculty rallied against hate this week.
Campus police said they were investigating last week’s incident as a “somewhat offensive” act but not as a crime.
“It’s a freedom of speech area, and it wasn’t directed toward any particular group,” said campus police Lt. Fred Molina. “But we want to find who’s doing this and why.”
The Fullerton incident Nov. 7 is just the latest use of the racially charged symbol on college campuses. A makeshift noose made from the string of a sweatshirt hood was found this month in the Purdue University library. Earlier this year, a noose was placed on the office door of a black professor at Columbia University, and a noose was found in a tree at Indiana State University.
Sumanah Mithani, a Cal State Fullerton junior who helped organize an anti-hate rally Wednesday at Fullerton’s quad, said she was “extremely shocked” to find such a “hateful symbol” on campus.
“It was a smack in the face that something like this could happen in central Orange County,” said Mithani, who is chairwoman of the Assn. for Intercultural Awareness. “Incidents like this are not going to be tolerated anymore, and we’re going to speak out. This was an attack not just on African Americans, but all ethnic groups on our campus.”
Two days after the incident, the administration sent a campus-wide e-mail denouncing the act and urging the college to make a “strong statement that CSUF is a welcoming, inclusive university.”
Wednesday’s rally began with a silent protest, in which students wearing bright orange clothes and black armbands hung peace signs from the clothesline where the nooses had appeared. Later, student and faculty leaders spoke against hatred in an “open mic” hour, and a panel of students and faculty led a two-hour discussion in the Student Union.