Stanford University officials have opened a hate crime investigation after a noose was found hanging from a tree on the elite school’s California campus.

leaders have said anti-Black hate crimes will not be tolerated after a noose was allegedly found hanging from a tree on its campus.

The noose was discovered on a tree outside Branner Hall, an undergraduate residence block, on Sunday evening, the university said in a statement. The rope it was fashioned out of had been there “for several years” after a “performance by a student organisation”, officials said.

The campus in Palo Alto, California, is home to almost 17,000 students – around 28 per cent of whom are white, 25 per cent are Asian and seven per cent are Black, according to university figures from 2021.

“We cannot state strongly enough that a noose is a reprehensible symbol of anti-Black racism and violence,” said Vice Provosts Susie Brubaker-Cole and Patrick Dunkley in a statement. “As a community, we must stand united against such conduct and those who perpetrate it.”

Stanford also called on students to help in its investigation into the noose, which NPR reported on Tuesday was the third in four years.

Hanging a noose is considered a crime in California with a penalty of up to one year in prison or a $5,000 fine, the outlet reported.

“When faced with despicable acts like this, each of us must decide whether we will have the courage to help to do all that we can to prevent actions like this from occurring at Stanford,” added the university statement.

Anne Charity Hudley, a Stanford University professor with a background in African-American studies, was among those to condemn the alleged noose in a statement of her own on Monday.

“I woke up to the news of a noose that was found last night outside a Stanford undergraduate residence hall,” she tweeted. “We all have so much more work to do. In our national organisations and on our campuses, we deserve so much better than this.”