Noose shakes multiple campuses in Greensboro

On Nov. 7, the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, a collaboration between North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, was host to an unpleasant reminder of the past in the form of a noose found on campus. Campus police from both UNCG and A&T responded to the event after the noose was found at 9:30 a.m.

The noose was left overnight in one of the building’s loading docks by contractor and security guard Lindsay Willetts who works for Admiral Security Services at the college. Willetts claimed the noose was left as a joke.

A&T’s Student Government Association was quick to condemn the event.

“White supremacy has targeted North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, our home and safe haven,” said the A&T SGA in a statement released on Twitter.

UNCG administration also released a statement on Wednesday morning to students and staff.

“Acts like this will not be tolerated on our campus or within our community,” wrote Chancellor Frank Gilliam. “It is important that we are always vigilant and never take lightly the words, deeds, and symbols of hate and intolerance.”

The symbol of the noose is connected to the history of the lynching of African-Americans in America, particularly in the South following the Civil War. According to the NAACP, at least 3,446 African-Americans were lynched in the United States between 1882 and 1968, accounting for more than 72.7 percent of all recorded lynchings.

Students and faculty of the two universities took to Twitter to criticize the event and the implications of the noose.

“I’m beyond disgusted. A noose on the campus of the largest HBCU is a JOKE?” said A&T student Rahtia Taylor via Twitter.

A&T is the largest HBCU in the nation, with an enrollment of 11,877 students in fall of 2017.

Discrimination towards students at HBCUs is not new. Many of these schools were founded in the 1900s following the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision that stated that “separate but equal” was constitutional. They continued to have poorer budgets and facilities than traditionally white schools even after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case.

“Historically Black Colleges and Universities have, and will continue to serve, as a sanctuary to Black students across the country for centuries,” wrote the A&T SGA.

In the 1960s, A&T was home to the “Greensboro Four,” a group of students who began one of the most influential sit-ins during the civil rights movement.

“Racism and white Supremacy will never have a place on our campus,” wrote the A&T SGA.

At first, both colleges chose not to identify the name of the employee despite pushback from students.

“It’s a threat to our safety not (to) release this terrorist’s name. This is OUR university!” wrote Taylor. “The students, parents, (and) staff deserve more than just an email. Black students are supposed to feel safe here.”

A&T later identified the man after it was requested in a list of questions submitted by the A&T SGA. UNCG police reported that Willetts turned himself in and was forthcoming with police. He was terminated after news of the incident was released and is also now barred from returning to the Joint School campus.

“There was no note or threat or anything. Obviously, it was entirely inappropriate. I believe the individual realized that after the fact. It was just a really bad idea on his part,” said UNCG Chief of Police Paul Lester.

The noose found at JSNN is not the only one that has been found recently in North Carolina. In October, several nooses were found at Davie County High School in Mocksville, NC. In 2015, a Duke University student admitted to leaving a noose on campus.

A&T Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. also released a message to students and faculty.

“I am deeply disturbed by this incident; such actions have no place at our university or in our society and certainly will not be tolerated,” Martin said.