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Student apologizes for UC San Diego noose incident, claims no racist intent

March 1, 2010 |  3:12 pm

The UC San Diego student reportedly responsible for last week’s controversial noose episode issued a public, but anonymous, apology Monday and said she'd had no racist intent when she hung the rope from a bookcase in the campus' main library. The discovery of the noose set off angry protests at a school already tense from racially charged episodes and triggered a round of condemnations from UC leaders and even the governor.

In a letter published Monday on the front page of the campus' student newspaper, the Guardian, the student wrote that "this was not an act of racism" and contended that it was a "stupid mistake." She said it was the result of fooling around and had nothing to do with seeking to intimidate black students with a symbol of lynching.

"I know what I did was offensive -- regardless of my intentions -- I am just trying to say I’m sorry. As a minority student who sympathizes with the students that have been affected by the recent issues on campus, I am distraught to know that I have unintentionally added to their pain," wrote the student, who was suspended Friday and remains under investigation by campus police for a possible hate crime.

The letter is signed "by Anonymous UCSD Student" and offers no clues to her identity or ethnicity. A note at the end of the letter states that the newspaper had verified the author’s authenticity. Sari Thayer, the Guardian’s Web editor, said in a telephone interview that the woman had approached the paper and asked to publish the letter and that "a reliable source" had confirmed it.   

In the letter, the woman said she and friends had been playing with a rope, jumping with it, making a lasso and then a noose early last week. She then carried it to the library, where she was studying, and strung it over a desk there Tuesday and forgot about it. Its discovery Thursday night caused a firestorm on campus, where racial tensions were high after a Jan. 15 off-campus party mocked Black History Month and a derogatory term for blacks was used on a student television show.

When she realized the controversial noose was her responsibility, "I felt so ashamed and embarrassed, and the first thing I did was call the campus police and confess," she wrote. She said her motivation in publishing the letter was "to hopefully put a little bit of faith back into the UCSD campus by clarifying that it was not an act of racism."

A campus spokesperson said campus police are continuing to investigate the incident and are consulting about it with the San Diego County district attorney's office and the U.S. attorney's office.  The student remains suspended while the investigation continues, the spokesperson said.

-- Larry Gordon