The UC San Diego student reportedly responsible for hanging a noose last week in a campus library issued a public, but anonymous, apology Monday and said she had no racist motivation.
The noose's discovery set off protests at a school that is already tense from recent racially charged episodes and triggered condemnations from UC leaders and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In a letter published Monday on the front page of the UC San Diego student newspaper, the Guardian, the student wrote that the incident was "a mindless act and stupid mistake" and was not meant to recall the lynching of blacks.
"As a minority student who sympathizes with the students that have been affected by the recent issues on campus, I am distraught to know that I have unintentionally added to their pain," the student wrote. She was suspended Friday and remains under investigation for a possible hate crime.
The letter is signed "Anonymous UCSD Student" and offers no clues about her identity or ethnicity.
Sari Thayer, the Guardian's Web editor, said in an interview that the woman had asked the paper to publish the letter and that "a reliable source" confirmed its authenticity.
The woman wrote that she and friends had been playing with the rope early last week, making a lasso and then a noose.
She said that she took it to the library Tuesday, strung it above a desk and forgot about it. Its discovery Thursday night caused a firestorm on campus, where tensions were high after a Feb. 15 off-campus party that mocked Black History Month.
A campus official declined to comment on the letter and said that university police continue to investigate the incident.