Racist graffiti, vandalism, and “possible noose” found near Georgetown tunnels

11:50 a.m. update: This morning, a University official told local television news outlets that the rope has been identified as a piece of climbing equipment, not a noose. The official also confirmed that the graffiti was not a recent act.

After discovering “a loose hanging rope with a knotted loop at one end” in a utility room in the sub-basement of Healy Hall this week, University employees filed a report with the Department of Public Safety, according to an email written by Vice President for University Safety Rocco DelMonaco and Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson.

The room, which is locked and off-limits, can also be accessed through utility tunnels that run underneath campus. During the ensuing DPS investigation, officers also discovered “racist graffiti and vandalism” in the tunnels, which suggests “illegal trespassing that has occurred over an extended period of time.”

The University has contacted the Metropolitan Police Department to assist in the ongoing investigation. While no suspect has been identified, DelMonaco and Olson encouraged anyone with information about the incidents to alert the University through DPS or the Bias Reporting System.

“We must underscore that acts of vandalism, hate and intolerance have no place in our campus community,” they wrote. “Together all of these incidents are disturbing and not to be accessed except by trained and authorized personnel.”

Tonight at 9 p.m., representatives from Student Affairs, DPS, and Campus Ministry plan to hold a community meeting in the Village C Alumni Lounge to discuss the incidents.

After the jump, we’ve republished DelMonaco and Olson’s full email.

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

We write today to share very troubling news and ask for your assistance as we seek to understand some recent events.

Earlier this week the Department of Public Safety (DPS) received a report from university employees about a loose hanging rope with a knotted loop at one end, described as a possible noose, in a locked utility area in the sub-basement of Healy Hall. This remote area is off limits except for authorized personnel but can be accessed through underground utility tunnels in addition to the locked entrance.  The possibility of this kind of symbol on our campus is deeply troubling and extremely serious.  We must underscore that acts of vandalism, hate and intolerance have no place in our campus community.  As a Catholic and Jesuit university, we are committed to fostering a community that is welcoming to people of all races, religions, and ethnicities and that values understanding, inclusion and respect.

We began a thorough investigation as soon as the incident was reported on Tuesday and have now ruled out legitimate uses for a rope in this area by our personnel.  We have contacted the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to assist in our ongoing investigative efforts.  In conducting our investigation we’ve uncovered some other troubling information we need to make the community aware of and seek cooperation to address.  We have found racist graffiti and vandalism in underground areas adjacent to the Healy sub-basement that provide evidence of illegal trespassing that has occurred over an extended period of time.  These remote areas are dangerous and not to be accessed except by trained and authorized personnel.  Together all of these incidents are disturbing and undermine the values of our community. We have increased DPS patrols on campus and are continuing our investigation.

Knowing that many people will find this news of great concern, representatives from Student Affairs, DPS and Campus Ministry will be available at a meeting for the campus community this evening at 9 p.m. in the Village C Alumni Lounge. Please know that you may also contact CAPS at (202) 687-HELP or a chaplain at (202) 668-3195 at any time.  Chaplains in residence and residence life staff are available to meet with students as well.  Faculty and staff may find resources through the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action or the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program.

We encourage anyone who may have information related to these incidents to contact the Department of Public Safety (DPS) at (202) 687-4343.  While we do not know the motivation of the person or persons who committed these acts, nor whether or not they are members of the University community, they are of great concern.
If a member of the campus community is found to be responsible for these acts, the matter will be treated very seriously, including as a violation of university policies.  We ask that everyone remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity or signs of vandalism to DPS at 202-687-4343 or through the anonymous tip form.  We also encourage anyone to report information about these recent acts of vandalism to the Bias Reporting System.  We also ask that everyone do his or her part to act responsibly, safely, and respectfully.

Todd A. Olson, Vice President for Student Affairs


Rocco DelMonaco, Vice President for University Safety

19 Comments on “Racist graffiti, vandalism, and “possible noose” found near Georgetown tunnels

  1. well, we almost made it through september without someone discovering a noose or disgraceful racism/antisemitism on our campus. almost.

  2. Has anyone asked DPE what their new pledging rituals are?

  3. Dog bites man. Again.
    If a “possible noose” elicits the all-systems go response team, clearly the University has no concept of what is important. This kind of response dulls the effect of important messages and leads to students thinking university emails are always full of shit. And mostly, they are. These kind of “important” emails should be reserved for actually important events and used to make serious points. Instead, they are one step above Viagra spam in students’ inboxes.

    Graffitti and “trespass” in an area no one should be in is hardly reason to call the cops, release the dogs and bees and call a public meeting to discuss these “issues”.

  4. @ Matt

    i guess vox didnt pick that one up? thanks for filling me in.

    @ Fiore – what is your appropriate response for this when it is recurring on our campus and others?

  5. @alum
    Um, the same thing you did the last time you saw racist graffitti in a bathroom stall. Nothing. There is graffitti in the world. It’s unimportant to campus if no one can see it or it is in hidden places.
    And a piece of rope hanging in a utility room is hardly out of place. I’d say the jury is still out on this “event.”

  6. Sounds like alum just didn’t catch those posts, no need to bombard him/her.

  7. Maybe someone was going to hang themselves? And some student out there is like totally really really unhappy. Maybe we should be sending emails to the student body about seeing Georgetown’s Counseling and Psychiatric Service instead of sending emails about them being racist… no?

  8. I don’t know about the noose but the graffiti could have been there for ages, how long have people been going to those tunnels? Some people may accuse me of being blind, but I don’t really think Georgetown is on the whole a racist place.

  9. Also, the number of DPS officers and their man-hours must be infinite. Every incident results in increased patrols. Do they ever decrease them? Do they increase for a day and then go back to “normal”? Is it a lie, and nothing changes? Are current patrols so sparse they are easily increased? How does one increase patrols three times per week? I want to know!!

  10. Seems to me GU is reporting this because it MIGHT be a noose and a noose MIGHT be tied to racism, so they want people to know. I’m sure they realize there are many possible explanations (which is why they say it’s POSSIBLY a noose) and racism is one of those explanations. Better to report it and be wrong than not report it, I think. Otherwise, eventually, someone (Voice, Hoya) would find out, report it, and say they were hiding something.

  11. But it isn’t the possible racism that makes the noose disturbing. It’s the noose itself. And the email seemed like it was sent out because they found something that might be tied to racism, not because it’s something creepy as hell in the first place.

  12. This is a scam by an employee who is trying not to get fired. Maybe the Voice could do a little investigative journalism, stop quoting ‘official sources’, and dispense with all the psycho-drama.

  13. i agree with Alum, and current student. Current student, you’re exactly right, a noose in the tunnels is no sign of racism. Alum you’re right too, I had no doubt upon first reading this that campus groups would call this racist and use it as another excuse to hold a B.S. forum to beat a dead horse.

  14. How can some of you possibly think that the appropriate response is to do nothing? Just because it isn’t visible doesn’t take away the fact that someone thinks it’s funny to make racist jokes, if they are even jokes. Also, I’m a little confused as to how holding a forum to discuss the recurring issue of racism is B.S. Students should feel safe, and definitely should not be receiving multiple e-mails about racist graffiti and messages on white boards. These students aren’t just being immature freshmen drawing body parts, they’re writing things that are hateful and should not be taken lightly.

  15. Really?

    If these incidents are being staged by nonwhites, should that also be taken seriously? Is crying wolf in nefarious and dishonest way also repulsive? Nonwhites know that whites are terrified of being associated with racism, which is easily exploitable I say.

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