First there was the “Compton Cookout” party promising chicken and watermelon to students who came dressed as “ghetto bitches.”

Then representatives of a campus humor magazine went on student-run television and called people protesting the party “ungrateful niggers.”

Now a noose has been left hanging in the campus library.

This is Black History Month 2010 at the University of California San Diego.

There’s a debate rolling at the UC Regent Live blog about what the motivation behind of this latest incident is — whether it was an “act of bigotry” or just “an inflammatory action to goad the population.” Here’s my take: there’s no difference. There’s no difference between being a bigot and pretending to be a bigot to wind people up. There’s no difference between being an asshole and getting a kick out of acting like an asshole. Either way you’re a bigot. Either way you’re an asshole.

It’s now 3:30 in the morning in San Diego. The noose was found and reported just a few hours ago. There is a rally scheduled for 8 am at Library Walk on campus. More to come.

Update | A commenter at the UC Regent Live blog has posted a link showing that hanging “a noose, knowing it to be a symbol representing a threat to life, on [a] college campus … for the purpose of terrorizing any person who attends or works at the school” is a violation of California law carrying a maximum penalty of a year in jail. The law took effect less than two months ago.

5 am California time | “ucsd noose” is currently the top search on Google, and when you type in “UCSD” to the search engine, its first suggestion for an autocomplete is “UCSD noose.” The university can’t be happy about that.

9:00 am | In an earlier version of this post, I wondered aloud whether Adam Kissel of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education considered the noose incident “an actionable case of racial harassment or protected free expression,” given the vehemence of his denial that the Compton Cookout invitation might constitute such harassment. Kissel hasn’t answered the harassment question yet, but he has posted to the group’s website to say that the placement of the noose is not protected speech, and that he hopes the person who did it is “brought to justice.”

10:20 am | A UCSD staffer at today’s rally tweets that an administrator has announced that the perpetrator of the noose incident has been identified. More when I get it.

10:50 am | A local news website has new information on the noose incident: The noose was discovered at 10:30 last night, and at nine o’clock this morning a female student confessed to the act in a phone call. UCSD Vice Chancellor Gary Mattews characterized the student as “someone who didn’t think that leaving a noose was an issue.” Police are said to be questioning the student, who could face misdemeanor charges.

12:45 pm Students are now occupying the offices of the UCSD chancellor, as the Black Student Union demands that the university close temporarily due to safety concerns. One report on Twitter suggests that they’ve given the university a 5 pm deadline.

1:05 pm UC President Yudof’s statement on UCSD noose incident says student who confessed claimed she had two accomplices.

2:25 pm Students at UCLA have launched a sit-in at their chancellor’s offices in solidarity with UCSD. (Apologies for lack of links — I’m posting all these updates via iPhone from Amtrak.)

4:40 pm | I’m off the train, I’m at a proper keyboard, and I have several updates:

  • Reports that a second noose had been found on campus today, perhaps at the bear statue at Warren College, appear to be unfounded. There has been no confirmation of any such discovery, several hours after the reports first surfaced.
  • Students at UCLA staged a solidarity action earlier today in support of the anti-racist activists of UCSD. That action, a sit-in at the offices of UCLA’s chancellor, has ended peacefully.
  • At this writing, the UCSD BSU’s five o’clock deadline for action by that school’s chancellor on their demands is just twenty minutes away. Participation in the occupation of the chancellor’s offices, which had dwindled somewhat over the course of the afternoon, is rising again as the deadline approaches. One student on the scene says “hundreds” are there now, with more arriving all the time.
  • I’ve set up a Twitter list of students posting about UCSD, particularly those on the scene of the current protest. You can find the list here — if you’re tweeting and want to be added, let me know via Twitter.

8:30 pm | The UCSD administration responded to the BSU’s demands not long after five o’clock, and while the BSU was far from happy with that response, they chose to withdraw and regroup rather than continue the occupation. Expect a strong new push next Monday.

In other news, the administration has announced that the student who admitted placing the noose in the library last night has been suspended, though they haven’t said for how long. The student has not yet been identified publicly.

Sunday morning | A new post on a big unanswered question: What about the accomplices?

Monday morning | The UCSD student newspaper has run a statement that it claims was written by the student who hung the noose in the library. In it, the student claims that a friend of hers made the noose from a piece of discarded rope “without thinking of any of its connotations or the current racial climate at UCSD,” and that she hung it at the desk unthinkingly days before it was discovered. “As a minority student who sympathizes with the students that have been affected by recent issues on campus,” she writes, “I am distraught to know that I have unintentionally added to their pain.”