DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- Duke officials said Wednesday that they are trying to find out who hung a noose outside a building that houses several offices, including those focused on diversity.
Officials say the rope tied into a noose was found about 2 a.m. in the Bryan Center plaza. The center is home to offices including the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity and the Center for Multicultural Affairs.
Larry Moneta, Duke's vice president for student affairs, said in an email to students that anyone found responsible for "committing this act of intimidation" will be held accountable.
"To whomever committed this hateful and stupid act, I just want to say that if your intent was to create fear, it will have the opposite effect," Moneta wrote in the email. "Today, fear will be among the reactions students, and especially, students of color, will have. Be assured that the Duke community will provide all the support necessary to help us all get through this."
School President Richard Brodhead and Provost Sally Kornbluth later sent a joint email to students, saying the Duke campus "has been jolted over the past few weeks by several racial incidents, including a report of hateful speech directed at students on East Campus" and the discovery of the noose.
School officials also are investigating that previous incident, in which a student reported hearing racist speech the early morning of March 22.
Both Duke administrators and police are investigating, school spokesman Keith Lawrence said. Duke police referred all questions to the school's communications office.
University and student leaders have scheduled a forum for Wednesday evening on the steps of Duke Chapel. Speakers will include Brodhead and Kornbluth.
In addition, first-year students are invited to an event Wednesday evening called "Chalk the Walk," where they can fill a traffic circle with supportive messages, Duke officials said. And members of the Black Student Alliance and others marched Wednesday afternoon in response to the noose, chanting, "We are not afraid. We stand together," the school said.
Duke has about 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students. It costs about $60,000 a year to attend as an undergraduate, including room and board, according to the school's website. About half of all undergraduate students receive financial aid.
This story originally appeared on Associated Press