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UPDATE: Rope Tied Into Noose As Joke, UF Student Says

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A police officer carries a noose in Weimer Hall today. (Lena Schwallenberg/WUFT News)
A police officer carries what he described as a noose in Weimer Hall today. (Lena Schwallenberg/WUFT News)

Updated, 11:50 a.m.

The University of Florida organization Theatre Strike Force has issued another statement following the noose found in a UF classroom on Thursday:

Theatre Strike Force would like to formally denounce the actions of a member of our group. The member acted as an individual, and the occurrence is not representative of the values of our club. The person responsible has issued a statement to the UFPD. The organization was unaware of these actions until being informed today. We sincerely apologize if any students or faculty members were made to feel unsafe due to the actions of this individual. 

Sincerely,

Micaela Fagan 

VP of TSF 

Updated, 10:13 a.m.

University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Dean Diane McFarlin released the following statement Thursday night in response to the incident at the university:

Everyone:

Our student reporters in the INC did an excellent job today of explaining the appearance of a noose in Gannett Auditorium:

http://www.wuft.org/news/2017/01/12/noose-found-in-university-of-florida-classroom/ 

Although the noose was evidently an improv theater prop without racial intent, the stir it created was real and alarming. Therefore, I want to elaborate on the message from President Fuchs, below, to say that student, faculty and staff safety is of paramount importance to us. We are working very hard to provide a safe, secure and welcoming environment and have zero tolerance for threatening activity.

I was heartbroken when I first heard about this incident, because it was such a stark contradiction to the atmosphere of inclusion we embrace. I felt profound relief when I learned that it appeared not to have been intended as a racially oriented message.

We want UF and CJC to be a place where everyone feels welcome and at home. Please do your part to ensure that this is always the case.

Diane

Updated, 5:20 p.m.

University of Florida President Kent Fuchs released the following statement in response to the noose found in a classroom today at the university:

Dear UF community:

Today, a University of Florida journalism professor discovered a noose on a lectern in his classroom.

The incident was reported to the University of Florida Police Department and an investigation is ongoing.

While we do not know why the rope was placed there or the intention, recent reports indicate it may have been a prank. Nonetheless, the shameful and deplorable history that nooses evoke opens wounds, particularly for members of the Black community.

I hope all of us will care deeply and support those who are the targets of such symbols.

I want to be clear that I believe symbols of hate and racism undermine the kind of community that is so vital to the university’s goals of mutual understanding and respect. I also want to be clear that racial discrimination has no place at our university.

I affirm my support for our Black students, staff and faculty and am pleased to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy with many of them beginning tonight at a vigil at the Institute of Black Culture. Other events continue all month and the schedule can be found HERE.

Together, I hope our community will reject racism and violence in all forms and join together to make our university a welcoming place for everyone.

If you know anything about this incident or are the victim of a crime, please report it to the police. If you are the victim of discriminatory behavior, please report it to the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. As always, if you are aware of students in distress for any reason, please refer them to U Matter, We Care at umatter@ufl.edu.

Warm regards,

Kent

Updated, 4:22 p.m.

The University of Florida organization Theatre Strike Force released the following statement regarding the noose found in a UF classroom this morning:

“After the conclusion of a TSF event, an unknown member participated in actions that TSF neither knew about nor condones. We apologize for any distress it may have caused. We are communicating with our members to ensure that something like this does not happen again.”

Updated, 4:05 p.m.

After the University of Florida organization Theatre Strike Force held auditions in Weimer Hall’s Gannett Auditorium, a person tied a rope in the room to resemble a noose as a joke, one student there for the auditions told WUFT News.

“Us being dumb college students doing comedy, after auditions ended, we noticed the rope,” the student, Michael Springthorpe, wrote in a text message. “So one person as a joke tied it in a real bad noose, like it had only three or four loops.”

“I wasn’t involved, but I saw it go down,” he added.

Those there didn’t untie it when they left, Springthorpe said.

The rope wasn’t brought into the room by the organization but was there throughout auditions on Tuesday and Wednesday, he said.

Theatre Strike Force said it will be releasing a statement soon on the incident.

Original story

A rope that one police officer described as a noose was discovered in a University of Florida classroom today as students arrived there for class.

The item was found in Weimer Hall’s Gannett Auditorium before a 9:35 a.m. class there, said Judy Hunter, associate director of advising in UF’s College of Journalism and Communications, which is based in Weimer.

Natalia Piferrer said she arrived at the class, which is on advertising, and nothing seemed unusual.

“Everything seemed fine to me,” the 22-year-old public relations student said. “I was studying in the back of the class. I usually sit in the front.”

The class went on like normal but let out a little early, Piferrer said, adding that students went up to talk with the professor afterward.

A police officer was seen entering Weimer’s advising office about noon asking for information about the item, which he referred to as a noose. He then went into the auditorium and emerged carrying the item in a bag.

The two nights prior, the university’s Theatre Strike Force used the auditorium as a space for auditions, said John Stoltenborg, a UF student and director of the organization’s Delta Group improv team.

The rope, which he said seemed out of place, was there for both nights.

“I had auditions Tuesday and Wednesday,” the 24-year-old said. “The rope was … just laying on the [stage-like area in the front of the room]. I kicked it off to the side.”

“I thought maybe some professor was using it,” he added. “Maybe something with the strength of a rope? I was stressed and focused on other things more important than a rope.”

UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes referred questions to the University of Florida Police Department, and police spokesman Maj. Brad Barber said he couldn’t offer additional information.

This story has been updated.

About Jordan Milian

Jordan is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 904-477-3727 or emailing jordanmilian6@gmail.com.

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