Michigan State University (MSU) said Wednesday that a student reported a noose hanging outside of her room in a university residence hall -- prompting an investigation and a forceful statement by the university's president.
But later in the day, the school said police determined that the object in question was a shoelace.
"After investigating, MSU Police have determined the object was a packaged leather shoelace and not a noose," Jason Cody, MSU spokesman, said in a statement. "The matching packaged shoelace was found outside of the residence hall. Officers located and spoke to the student who lost both of the shoelaces, which are packaged in a way that someone could perceive them to look similar to a noose."
Earlier, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said in a statement that she learned about "a racial incident" Wednesday morning, and that a female student reported finding "a noose" hung outside of her room. Simon said she was "distressed" to hear about the incident and praised the student's courage for coming forward, saying campus police and the school's Office of Institutional Equity were investigating.
In an updated statement Wednesday afternoon, spokesman Cody said "the student who lost the shoelaces lives on the same floor as the student who made the original report."
The "original shoelace found inside the residence hall was not directed at any individual," Cody said in the statement. "It originally was seen on hallway floor and later on a stairwell door handle, where officers believe someone put it after picking it up."
"As we did in this case, the university takes any reported racial incident very seriously," Cody added. "MSU continues to provide support to the students involved."
In 2011, the discovery of a noose on campus prompted protests and a rally against racism on campus, MSU's public media outlet WKAR notes. Earlier this year, several nooses were , including inside the recently opened National Museum of African American History and Culture.