A Black student at Michigan State University is claiming that she was the target of a racist act. School officials say it was simply a “prank.”
In a Facebook post, MSU student Iyana Cobbs provides details on a “toilet paper noose” that she says was found hanging on her dorm room door last Friday. She accompanied the caption with a photo.
“So, as most of you know I go to Michigan State University. Today, I received a text message with this picture attached,” Cobbs writes. “If you all cannot tell, It is a toilet paper noose.”
Cobbs goes on to describe the symbolism of a noose as it relates to this country’s shameful treatment of African-Americans, and brings up a similar incident that occurred on the campus last year. At that time, a Black student reported a shoelace that she believed to be a noose.
“It’s sad that STUDENTS feel like this is ok,” Cobbs continued. “There are only 4 black people on this floor. And yes, our door is the ONLY door that had this on there.”
Although Cobbs insists the act was racially motivated, the Lansing State Journal reports that MSU Police and Residential and Hospitality Services says they spoke to the MSU students responsible for taping the toilet paper to Cobbs’ door and they say it was part of a Halloween prank.
Ray Gasser, the executive director for residence education and housing services at Michigan State University, echoed the casual nature of the student culprits in an email on Sunday.
“As we did in this case, the university takes any reported racial incident very seriously,” he added. “No Spartan should ever feel targeted based on their race, or other ways in which they identify.”
According to local NBC affiliate WILX10, MSU students are “outraged” by the school’s response. One student told reporters that Black students don’t feel “safe” or “welcomed.”
This is not the first time MSU officials have downplayed an incident involving racial undertones. Last year the school refused to expel a sophomore student who wrote “F– the Blacks” and other offensive language on her social media accounts.