Stanford University officials say an investigation is underway after a noose was discovered this week hanging from a tree outside a residence hall.

In an email sent to students and campus staff, university officials say the noose was found Sunday evening hanging from a tree near Branner Hall, one of the undergraduate residence halls.

The Stanford University Department of Public Safety was immediately notified, and campus authorities quickly removed the noose and "retained it as evidence," according to university officials.

"We cannot state strongly enough that a noose is a reprehensible symbol of anti-Black racism and violence that will not be tolerated on our campus," said Vice Provosts Susie Brubaker-Cole and Patrick Dunkley in a news release.

Brubaker-Cole and Dunkley urged anyone with information on the incident to come forward and report it, saying that it was their "moral responsibility."

"When faced with despicable acts like this, each of us must decide whether we will have the courage to help to do all that we can to prevent actions like this from occurring at Stanford, and to support those who are the targets of such actions," the statement added.

The rope used in Sunday's incident was allegedly one of several that had been tied to the tree for a performance by a student organization a few years ago, according to a summary from the school's Protected Identity Harm reporting process, the system through which Stanford students can submit reports about racist and/or discriminatory incidents on campus.

"The ropes were never removed from the tree," the summary says. "It was discovered that one of the ropes had been made into a noose."

This week's incident marks the third such in the last three years, as nooses or possible nooses were previously discovered on Stanford's campus in July 2019 and November 2021, according to the university.

Under California state law, hanging a noose is classified as a hate crime and is a punishable offense. Those found guilty can face a $5,000 fine and/or up to a year in jail.

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