Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn., decided to hold a campus forum Tuesday after six rainbow-colored nooses were found hung on a tree on campus, WKRN-TV reports.
After an investigation, the university confirmed that the display was from an artist as part of an introductory course that focuses on yarn, WKRN-TV reports. The school said that the final display had not been reviewed or approved by the instructor. There also was no artist statement provided to explain the work's purpose.
The art student reportedly told officials that there was "no intent for any statement regarding, or representation of, LGBQT or racially related social issues."
"This is a lesson for everyone about sensitivity and respect for all people and how inclusive and understanding we need to be as a campus community,” school President Alisa White said, according to WKRN.
"While we support the freedom of expression on our campus, we also have to keep in mind that there are symbols that have very specific and negative meanings to everyone, especially if context is not provided. Therefore, the artwork was inappropriate and had to be removed for the safety of our campus. I am deeply sorry for the impact this has had on our campus community and we will learn from this and ensure something like this does not happen again."
WKRN reported earlier that the incident started to unfold after the university noted that several people complained about the display at around 5 p.m. Monday. Each noose was a different color, which collectively appeared to be organized in the colors of a rainbow, the site notes.
School officials said that campus officers removed the nooses "out of concern of hate symbolism and its potential impact to the campus."
"This incident is deeply disturbing and is hurtful to our university community," White added. "Regardless of the intent, the display has no place on our campus. I am saddened, and I am sorry for the hurt and offense this has caused and want our students, faculty, and staff to know that it will not be tolerated."