President Laura Casamento confirmed in an email this evening that three students have been removed from campus in connection with a photo that was circulated Friday night showing a student with a noose around his neck.
The students were not expelled. However, they will remain off campus “pending the outcome of an investigation and the college’s conduct process,” Casamento wrote in the email. Details surrounding the incident have also been reported to law enforcement.
“The image, no matter what the intent, is offensive, threatening, hurtful and potentially unlawful,” Casamento said. “As I’ve stated repeatedly, this college has zero tolerance for such behavior, and the actions that we take will be swift and resolute.”
The original photo showed a white, male student wearing a noose around his neck with a caption that read, “Who likes my new necklace? #noosegang”
The Tangerine has learned the photo was taken during a recent student-sponsored event in Strebel Lounge for the Residence Hall Association. As part of the event, a game was set up that allowed students to throw lassoes over the head of a fake steer, which was where the student acquired the rope used in the photo, Casamento confirmed.
As part of UC’s due process obligations, she said, the students responsible for the photo will be given an opportunity “to tell their side of the story.”
“Regardless of intent, I will not lose sight of the fact that the image carried not only very real, very strong connotations of racism and intimidation but also implications for those who have faced mental health challenges, and this has had a profoundly painful and damaging impact on our college community,” Casamento said. “Such incidents undermine our principles and the hard work that we do, day in and day out, to uphold those principles.”
Casamento also explained that subsequent comments made on social media threatening the individual in the photo will be investigated as “possible violations of college policies and will be provided to law enforcement.”
While she reaffirmed the college has “zero tolerance for such behavior” that was displayed in the photo, Casamento said “subsequent postings threatening violence against a member of the college community are also appalling.” She advised anyone who made threats on social media to remove them because “the actions that we will take against them will also be swift and resolute.”
Casamento said she has begun meeting with student leaders to “discuss the steps that we need to take to address what has happened.”