CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Austin Peay State University held a campus forum at 1 p.m. Tuesday after nooses were found on a campus tree Monday.
APSU President Alisa White and David Davenport, the university diversity officer, spoke during the forum. Davenport acknowledged a need for a change in the school’s art display policy on campus.
According to the university, several people complained at 5 p.m. Monday after seeing six nooses arranged in the color of the rainbow near the Trahern Fine Arts Building.
It took 45 minutes for the decision to be made to remove the display as the school worked to investigate who had placed the nooses there.
Campus police removed the nooses between 5:35 until 6 p.m.
The school’s investigation determined the display was from an artist as part of an introductory course that focuses on yarn as a medium for creation of art works. According to school officials, the final display had not been reviewed or approved by the instructor, nor was an artist’s statement provided to explain the artwork’s purpose.
The student allegedly told officials that there was “no intent for any statement regarding or representation of LGBQT or racially-related social issues.”
This is a lesson for everyone about sensitivity and respect for all people and how inclusive and understanding we need to be as a campus community,” said White. “While we support the freedom of expression on our campus, we also have to keep in mind that there are symbols that have very specific and negative meanings to everyone, especially if context is not provided. Therefore the artwork was inappropriate and had to be removed for the safety of our campus. I am deeply sorry for the impact this has had on our campus community and we will learn from this and ensure something like this does not happen again.”
The student will not face disciplinary action from the school and was allegedly not aware of what the nooses meant. The display was meant to represent the cycle of death and rebirth at the arrival of Spring.
“I don’t think taking severe action against the student is the right thing to do,” said White.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has looked into the incident, speaking with both the instructor and student, and found no evidence of a hate crime.