There are some concerns about the safety of Black students at the University of South Alabama after nooses were discovered Tuesday (September 25) hanging from a tree on campus.
The university released a statement on Wednesday notifying the college community that the campus police identified the student responsible for the incident.
“A University of South Alabama student has been interimly suspended and banned from campus, pending a formal hearing, after confessing to an incident discovered last night outside the campus dining hall. USA Police have determined the student acted alone in hanging a bicycle and two nooses in a tree,” the statement said.
Free counseling was offered to students, but it’s unclear what steps the university will take to ensure student safety. The local NAACP chapter noted in its statement that Mobile, where the campus is located, was the site of the last documented Ku Klux Klan lynching.
“This is a rare and isolated incident, and from a safety standpoint the student responsible has been suspended and barred from campus until a formal disciplinary hearing can be held,” the university’s spokesman Bob Lowry told NewsOne. He added that additional officers patroled the area Wednesday night.
Campus police on Wednesday at first said the noose was left by mistake and was not in fact a noose, according to AL.com.
Prior to the president’s statement, the Mobile County chapter of the NAACP criticized the university for not immediately addressing the situation.
“This is a circumstance that many of us feel needs immediate attention considering America’s history and Mobile’s history,” a statement from Jordan Harris, president of the chapter, said.
Harris pointed out that members of the KKK were responsible for hanging 19-year-old Michael Donald in 1981 from a tree in Mobile.
A cafeteria worker was also fired after posting an offensive tweet from the university’s dining hall account.
“The rope outside of the caf last night was just a sign that our food is KILLER! Come get some fried chicken and tell us any different,” the tweet said.
The worker was an employee of Aramark, which manages the dining facility, the university stated.