BUFFALO, N.Y.-- Canisius College President John Hurley has released a statement about a doll that appeared to be found hung from a noose in a campus building elevator Tuesday.
"On Tuesday night, students reported to Canisius Public Safety of seeing photos on social media of a black doll posed in a dormitory elevator and later, a meme of the doll and inflammatory language involving Donald Trump," Hurley says in a statement. "Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Terri Mangione and Public Safety Director Wil Johnson were notified immediately and started an investigation overnight."
An open meeting was held Wednesday to discuss the incident, Hurley says.
In addition. more than 300 students, faculty and staff attended the meeting Wednesday afternoon. 15 took a microphone to speak about the incident had impacted them.
"I want to assure our students that your college has heard you loud and clear," Hurley stresses.
He also describes a report which he received Thursday involving how the doll incident started.
"There were two separate incidents involving two sets of students," he said. "The placement of the doll in the elevator originally, and the use of the doll in a residence hall room that resulted in a photograph of the doll hanging from a curtain rod."
The doll was found by students after it was left in a Frisch Hall laundry room by a young visitor. Tuesday evening, students who found the doll put it in the elevator as a prank to scare people when the elevator door opened.
Upon closer examination, Hurley says two strings attached to the body of the doll's neck, as part of its construction, do not actually appear to be used as a noose.
However, the doll was shared many times on social media and caused additional distress to students and their families already feeling vulnerable due to the presidential election.
So, all students involved will be disciplined appropriately, Hurley said.
He also said what happened outside the elevator in the Frisch Hall room are even more disturbing. The doll was hung from a curtain rod in the room and students took photos of it. One student created a meme about Trump fans and sent it to friends.
"It’s evident that what may have started as a thoughtless, insensitive prank earlier in the evening in the elevator degraded into a very offensive, inappropriate act later that night," Hurley said.
He also said the participants in the later residence hall incident were immediately suspended form the college
Their disciplinary cases will be conducted under the procedures outlined in the college’s Community Standards and the ultimate consequences could be severe, including dismissal from the college," Hurley said.
He also said an outside investigator is reviewing the college's Public Safety Investigation to see if the incident should involve any "hate crime" prosecution.
And finally, Hurley said a campus-wide conversation on race will be initiated to address the current issues and any more that may arise.