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Noose Ignites Tempers On Baylor U. Campus

This story was written by Jade Ortego, The Lariat

(UWIRE) -- At 9 a.m. Tuesday, a rope was discovered tied like a noose hanging from a tree outside of Morrison Hall, prompting the Baylor NAACP and Baylor's Association of Black Students to hold a joint meeting to discuss racially charged events on Election Day. The groups feel the acts were indicative of a racist culture at Baylor University.

Devin Culberson, Spring freshman, found a thin, white rope tied to a loop at the end, hanging from a tree. Culberson borrowed a knife from a janitor and cut it down, he said.

The rope evokes historical images of when black people were hanged from trees in the American South in the early 1900s.

The rope is now in possession of the Baylor Police. Dub Oliver, vice president of Student Life, says that he believes it was intended to look like a noose and send a hateful message. He hopes students will continue to come forward and help with the investigation.

Culberson believes the rope was put in a tree to intimidate black supporters of president-elect Barack Obama.

"I had to cut it down to show respect for myself and other black people," he said.

Baylor Chief of Police Jim Doak said he was also disappointed in the Election Day events.

"This is irresponsible conduct to the highest degree. It was absolutely distasteful, if that was the reason it was put out there," Doak said.

Someone has come to the police department with information on who may have put it into the tree, Doak said.

After the election was called for Obama, signs were found burning in the fire pit outside of Brooks Village, Waco freshman Brad Wright said.

Boerne freshman Michael Acosta said he saw it too.

Later, verbal altercations occurred outside of Penland Residence Hall. A group of Obama supporters were walking around shouting "Obama" and then passed a group of white men outside who made threatening and racist remarks, said Emmanuel Orupabo, Arlington senior.

According to Orupabo, one the men told the group, "Any [expletive] who walks by Penland, we're going to kick their [expletive], we're going to jump him." Orupabu and the people with him stopped and responded, "Excuse me?" The groups shouted at each other until police showed up.

Doak said the police didn't witness any racist remarks, but they were told of them. There were only about 10 to 15 people involved, he said, but there appeared to be more because so many stopped to watch.

"Folks got a little tacky," Doak said. There were no arrests and no violence, he said, "but rumors have been absolutely crazy."

Parents of students have flooded the Baylor Police with phone calls concerned with the safety of their children.

Doak said one caller heard that there were burning crosses on campus.

President Garland sent out an e-mail Wednesday condemning the Election Day conflicts on campus and the hanging of the noose.

"These events are deeply disturbing to us and are antithetical to the mission of Baylor University," it read. "We categorically denounce and will not tolerate racist acts of any kind on our campus."

The Baylor NAACP and Association of Black Students said they appreciate the e-mail, but believe that further action must be taken.

"They're going to brush this over. This is not a stance," said Ryan Phipps, holding up a copy of the e-mail. Phipps, Mesquite senior, is president of the Association.

At the joint meeting of approximately 50 people, committees were assigned to head various measures that the groups hope to take to address racism at Baylor.

The Baylor NAACP gave a statement Wednesday.

"We have faith that the Baylor community will come together and bridge differences to create an environment of inclusiveness, understanding and acceptance all members of the Baylor family. We look forward to campus support of forthcoming initiatives statement they issued yesterday," it read.

Last Friday, a life-sized effigy of Obama was found hanging from a tree at the University of Kentucky.

On Wednesday in Kilgore, Texas, police said they found racially charged graffiti with references to the election spray-painted on a high school gymnasium wall and at a skate park.

Prisca Anuolam and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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