The APSU community went looking for answers to their questions about the nooses hung in front of the Trahern at the open forum hosted by university officials on Tuesday, April 19.
APSU President Alisa White, Executive Director of Public Relations and Marketing Bill Persinger and Chief Diversity Officer David Davenport fielded students, staff and faculty members and concerned community members’ questions at the forum.
The officials stayed for almost three hours answering questions and attempting to help the community understand the decision to remove the art installation and what is being done to prevent something like this incident happening in the future.
Persinger opened the forum with the series of events leading up to the forum.
According to Persinger, at 5 p.m. on Monday, April 18, APSU Police removed the installation after 45 minutes of deliberation where they ultimately decided the project was a safety and public welfare issue.
The project was for a Sculpture 1 class. The concept was approved by the class’s professor but not the final design, according to Persinger.
The student has not been named and has not received any punishment from APSU administration or the art department according to White.
According to Persinger, the student released a statement on her project saying she had no social or political intentions with her project.
“My intention with my sculpture project was to convey the cycle of death and rebirth that comes with the arrival of spring,” the statement read. “I had no social or political statement in mind. I did not take into consideration that nooses are a racially charged symbol and for that I am sorry.
“I cannot apologize enough for the pain my artwork has caused. I am thankful APSU Police removed the artwork when it was clear it was causing so much pain.”
President White addressed the forum after Persinger and she said the art project made her “sick to her stomach.”
“Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Rex Gandy sent me a picture he had gotten from APSU Police and I was saddened and I was heart sick,” White said to the forum. “I was very concerned about the meaning and the message that could be behind it not knowing anything more than what the visual had depicted.”
According to an official APSU Facebook post, the FBI investigated the art project and presented their findings to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The office said that after its initial review, it was taking no further action.