The mystery of a rope hanging in a tree — and the meaning that some said it did or did not symbolize — has been solved, according to University Police.
Police chief Pat Johnson said Thursday night that after a nearly two-week investigation, police have referred the student believed to have tied the knot in the rope to Student Judicial Services.
Johnson said the student, who does not live on campus, said that he was sitting at a nearby picnic table. The student claimed, Johnson said, that the rope was hanging in the tree and that he tied the knot with no malicious intent.
“He said his whole life he had had hobbies — sailing or whatnot — and saw the rope and just tied it,” Johnson said.
Johnson said police were led to the student after witnesses who allegedly saw him tying the knot came forward.
Now, Student Judicial Services will review the case of the student and determine if any punishment will be administered. Disciplinary action is only an option when “it is reasonable to say that the student violated the code of conduct,” said Jason Spratt, a student affairs coordinator who oversees judicial services.
But the fate of the student will remain unknown, Spratt said. Information funneled through SJS falls under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act and is confidential.
The news of what appears to be the end of the police investigation came at a Black Student Union meeting, where USF President Judy Genshaft fielded questions from students concerning the incident.
Many students were upset with the president. They said it took too long for the information regarding the incident, which took place Jan. 30, to reach USF’s black student population. It wasn’t until Feb. 5 when administrators met with BSU and USF’s Gospel Choir.
Vice President of Student Affairs Harold Nixon said he disagreed that the information took too long to disperse. He said administrators weren’t privy to the incident until Feb. 2. He said it took him three days to gather information regarding the case and convene administrators and student leaders for their meetings that would take place that following Thursday. That amount of time, he said, was reasonable.
Genshaft, too, said she thought it was important that she let an investigation begin before she made any formal statement regarding the incident.
“It was a situation where we were investigating. Before I was going to write on it, I wanted to see if we could resolve what it was,” Genshaft said.
But, Genshaft later conceded, perhaps there is more the university can do in the future to ensure students feel safe on campus.
“It seems that we need to be out faster to you all,” she said. “And we can do that.”
Though at times during the meeting students openly criticized Genshaft and the administration, one student, who himself made critical remarks, said Genshaft’s visit was a testament to her commitment.
“It seems since the day you walked onto this campus, you have dealt with some very difficult situations,” he said, referring to issues such as the Jerry Ann Winters and Sami Al-Arian cases, which made national news headlines. “But I think we can say that here we have one of the best presidents in the nation.”