Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

University: Rope Found Below Healy Was Not a Noose

The knotted rope found hanging in a locked utility area in the sub-basement of Healy Hall earlier this week was not a noose and was likely used for legitimate purposes, according to university spokeswoman Julie Bataille.

“As a result of our notification to the community last night new details have come to light that lead us to believe the rope in question has actually been in this area for some period of time coiled up and was likely used for climbing activity – we do not believe it was any kind of noose,” Bataille wrote in an email on Friday.

On Tuesday, university employees discovered a knotted rope hanging in the off-limits area below Healy Hall, leading administrators to conclude that it might be a noose, according to a message sent to the campus community by Vice President for University Safety Rocco Del Monaco and Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson on Thursday evening. The rope was accompanied by racist graffiti targeting members of the black community. The evidence of vandalism was discovered in other sub-basement areas adjacent to the Healy sub-basement.

DPS concluded that the graffiti had accumulated over time in the restricted areas, which can be accessed through underground utility tunnels. While the investigation has now ruled that the rope was not a noose, the administration’s response to the discovery of a “possible noose” and vandalism was swift.

“The possibility of this kind of symbol on our campus is deeply troubling and extremely serious. We must underscore that acts of vandalism, hate and intolerance have no place in our campus community,” DelMonaco and Olson said in their message.

After sending the message to the campus community, DelMonaco, Olson and Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity Rosemary Kilkenny led a community meeting in Village C Alumni Lounge Thursday evening; about 35 administrators, faculty and students attended, many of whom felt the incident was indicative of perceived racial tensions on campus.

“Hanging nooses and racial slurs symbolize everything that we have worked so hard and came this far to destroy,” Carolyn Chambers (COL ’11), president of Georgetown’s chapter of the NAACP, said in an email message sent to the NAACP membership shortly after the broadcast message was sent to the university community. In her email, Chambers encouraged students to come to the meeting.

On Friday, Bataille explained why the rope was thought to be a noose but said the university was not closing its investigation of the matter.

“[The reason it looked like a noose was that] the rope was reported this week when it was hanging,” Bataille said. “We are still actively investigating the matter and will take seriously any new details that may emerge but are grateful to members of the campus community for providing additional information to aid our efforts so quickly.”

Olson said the administration is doing everything it can to address the problem, including creating rules and policies, sharing more information and emphasizing the importance of a culture of respect. Olson also said that the administration needs help from students, a sentiment that was echoed by students present.

“I think that administrative units that are designed to deal with these types of affairs are genuinely concerned about what is going on, but in a campus that functions very disparately in terms of different departments and student groups, it’s a very difficult task to permute the message,” Liani Balasuriya (COL ’11) said. “I hope that this incident motivates a more solidified attempt within different groups to address this as a single issue.”

Balasuriya also voiced concerns over a seeming complacency from students, as this is merely the latest in a string of bias-related incidents. Last month, several whiteboards in New South Hall and Darnall Hall were defaced with drawings of swastikas and the name “Hitler.” Two incidents featuring Nazi graffiti also occurred in spring 2009.

“[Because there have been multiple incidents], people are feeling numb,” Shiva Subbaraman, director of the LGBTQ Resource Center, said.”

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