Appalachian State University:

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE NOOSE 


STUDENTS SPEAK OUT AGAINST SECRECY, MANIPULATION, AND SLANDER

TELL THE ADMINISTRATION TO COME CLEAN!

*This is not an official ASU website.*

Students created this page on April 21, 2008 to address unanswered questions pertaining to the so-called "noose incident."  It is our hope that by presenting what we have discovered, 1) ASU administrators will receive student and media pressure to acknowledge these facts, and 2) faculty may be encouraged to speak openly about the matter without fear of retribution.  We further hope to see the administration comply with requests from students, faculty, and community members alike to disclose all information relevant to gaining an understanding of what has happened, why it happened, and why this information has been withheld from the university as well as local community.

What We Already Know

According to the March 19 press release/email from Chancellor Peacock, "a noose recently was reported displayed in a campus building and...the university has been looking into the matter."  The press release also stated, "the assistant district attorney has determined that no crime has been committed and no charges will be filed," and "[Chancellor] Peacock said that Appalachian has taken appropriate internal actions in response to the incident, consistent with university policies and with the full knowledge and support of Appalachian's Board of Trustees."

We know that this press release was issued more than a month after the noose had been reported.

From later news stories, we know that the administration declined to provide further comment on the story, as did University Police chief Gunther Doerr.  We know the police report of the incident has not been shared with reporters, save for a single "heavily redacted" page out of eight total pages.

From a letter to The Appalachian written by a faculty member, we know that the noose was not "displayed" just anywhere on campus but was in fact located in the locked office of a professor, where it had been for several years (the noose was a personal item of the professor's, who received it after having completed a doctoral dissertation on capital punishment which included a focus on the history of lynching in the south).  The letter claims that the noose was reported by a student who had previously taken classes with this professor and who was allegedly upset over grades in a class currently being taken with this same person.  The letter further claims that the student coerced a housekeeper into unlocking the professor's door, at which point the student is said to have entered the office and taken pictures of the noose.

Also from this letter, we learn that faculty in at least one department have received emails from their department chair which were presented as "clarifications" of points raised by faculty members' questions about the incident, but which were interpreted by the faculty as imposing restrictions on their freedom to speak to the press.  These emails contained court rulings in which "free speech and private expression," etc. had been "narrowly defined."  Copies of the emails were also sent to top administrators.

The professor who owns the noose, we are told, has been "'strongly advised' by university administrators not to pursue criminal charges against this student and not to mention the break in of their office space."

Finally, we know that administrators have explained their decision to release so little information about the incident by claiming a "need to exercise a duty of care to all individuals involved in the situation" (Tracy Wright) and a "responsibility...to control the confidentiality issues that we [administrators] feel we have been charged with protecting" (Cindy Wallace). 

Questions Remaining Unanswered

Why did the administration not include the fact that the noose was owned by a professor in its press release?  Why did they not mention that it had not been "displayed" anywhere on campus except in the very same office where it had already resided for several years?  Why was the entire campus community left to wonder about the nature of the incident when fears, concerns, and confusion could easily have been alleviated without violating legal matters of privacy?  Why was the incident publicized at all, if the matter had already been settled internally and no crime was found to have been committed?

Why has the police report been kept from the public?  Why was the one page shared with reporters missing so much of its original content?

If faculty have not been told to remain silent on this issue, as the administration claims, why do faculty state the contrary?  And why haven't more faculty come forth to fill in the gaps in the story, if they are free to do so?

Why did Chancellor Peacock specifically mention the Board of Trustees in his press release, if no crime had been committed and the incident was able to be dealt with by internal means alone?

Why, if the assistant district attorney concluded that no crime had been committed, was the owner of the noose apparently "strongly advised" not to pursue legal action against the student or to mention "the break in" to their office?  Has any disciplinary action been taken against this student, legal or otherwise?

Again:  why has this issue been shrouded in secrecy from the beginning?  Would it not have been better to tell people the truth?

The TRUTH About The Noose

The student who reported the noose comes from an apparently politically well-connected, black family.  The student, upset about their grades in this professor's class, unlawfully entered the professor's office to photograph the noose and subsequently reported it to university authorities.  An investigation was conducted and it was eventually concluded that no crime had been committed on the part of the professor.  The student's parents threatened to bring major media attention to Appalachian State University if the administration refused to take any action against what they saw as the display of a racist symbol.  The "noose incident" thus surfaced in the March 19 press release as a result of the administration's desire to avoid more serious allegations of racism being broadcast on a larger scale.  The desire to avoid such negative publicity also accounts for the fact that the student was not subject to disciplinary action for breaking into the professor's office.

The decision to handle the situation in this way was not reached by ASU administrators alone; on the contrary, authorities in Raleigh have played a significant role in crafting our own administration's response to this student and their parents.

Faculty are being kept quiet--or are keeping themselves quiet for good reason--over fear of losing their jobs or having their professional reputations severely damaged.  The professor who owns the noose has been denied a copy of the official police report of the incident; police reports are supposed to be matters of public record.

The noose is often used as a teaching tool in classes and workshops.  Its owner specializes in the history of capital punishment; their dissertation, upon completion of which the noose was received as a gift, focuses in large part on the ways in which the particular apparatus of execution informs the meaning of death within a given socio-historical framework.

How do we know this to be true?

Several days ago, students discovered that faculty had been anonymously posting information about the noose incident on local news websites and blogs.  Information that we thought had not been made public until the April 10 faculty letter was published in The Appalachian turned out to have been hinted at and sometimes stated outright as early as March 19, the very day of the initial press release.  This indicated that the anonymously posted information was indeed coming from individuals with "insider" knowledge.  We exhausted all the comments we could find on the various stories these websites had run between March 19 and the present, sifted through the muck, and discovered quite a few that seemed to have been written by someone who knew the truth.  Checking these posts against one another, we realized they were mutually supportive and that, combined, they painted a fairly complete picture of the events that seemed to have taken place.  This is the story presented above as "The TRUTH About The Noose."  Its accuracy has since been confirmed in conversations with various persons connected to the events.

We have provided links to these stories in the right-hand column of this page.  It is clear that these anonymous informants wanted someone to pick up on their hints and confront the administration, and students were the ideal candidates since we are not vulnerable to the kinds of leverage the administration has exercised over the faculty.  The more pressure students can put on administrators to address these claims, the more weight can be put behind the claims themselves as faculty begin to speak publicly about what they know.

Further Questions for Administrators

The information included in the above section is FACT.  We have intentionally tried to leave it as elementary an account of the truth as possible so as to ensure that we stick only to what has been confirmed.  There are many more specific questions raised in the statements from which these facts have been drawn, however, and which also deserve to be answered.  These allegations include:

-that Erskine Bowles was personally responsible for handling much of the issue and that he imposed ASU's "response" upon Chancellor Peacock

-UPDATE:  that Erskine Bowles sought to have the professor who owned the noose fired...?  and that ASU administrators refused to do so...

-that the March 19 press release was written by a legal team in Raleigh 

-that the student's parents had threatened to contact Al Sharpton and/or Jesse Jackson, specifically, and that this was the form the "major media attention" would take

-that the student's parents had threatened to compare the noose at Appalachian to the "Jena 6" story

-that the two forums held by the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Compliance after the March 19 press release were intentionally advertised towards black students either exclusively or nearly exclusively in order to make sure that the attendees of those meetings were entirely black

-that there was an awareness or desire, among administrators, of intentionally manipulating the feelings and perceptions of black students on campus in such a way as to create the student sentiment necessary to go along with the fabricated "noose incident"

-that the police report includes information which either suggests that the student did "break in" to the professor's office, or concludes as a matter of fact that the student committed a crime in doing so

-that both CNN and FoxNews have been contacted about this story by faculty

-that the administration knows that certain faculty know exactly what happened

Sources:

www.wataugawatch.net (4/10/08)

www.goblueridge.net (3/19/08)

www.goblueridge.net (3/30/08)

www.wataugawatch.net (4/2/08)

 

The only news outlet I know of (other than the blogs) that produced valuable reporting on the noose was The Appalachian.  Search their archives for bold attempts by student journalists to get the administration to talk.  Six very good pieces published between 4/1/08 and 4/16/08.



Who are we?

We are a small group of ASU students who stumbled upon the truth and had the good fortune of being well-connected enough to verify it.

 

We are not trying to tell anyone what should or should not offend them.  That is not our goal.


We are trying to show the whole student body that the noose was not what it seemed.  Our campus has been damaged in many ways because of what a small group of people unfairly decided, behind closed doors, to impose on all of us. 

 

Please, read what we have to say.  Look at what we have to show you.  Then, start asking questions of your faculty and administrators.  This is real...this is true.  You'll see.


...and spread the word...

 

UPDATE:  

SGA FORUM

FROM THE SGA WEBSITE

"The Student Government Association is hosting an open forum regarding the recent noose and student protest incidents tomorrow night (Wednesday, April 23) from 6:45 to 8:15 in the Linville Falls Room of the Plemmons Student Union. Cindy Wallace, Vice Chancellor for Student Development, will bring the official administration response to the fourteen questions raised by the student senate last week. Ms. Wallace will also be available to answer audience questions.

This open forum is an opportunity for students to hear the official stance of the the administration on these two issues, and to raise reasonable questions. To encourage open dialogue, we ask that all attendees be respectful of those who are asking questions, and those who are answering."

 

Go forth and respectfully question!