CHICAGO (CBS) — The police at the University of Illinois at Chicago are investigating to see if a rope hanging over a fence was intended as racial intimidation–or a prank.

WBBM’s Steve Miller reports, the rope was found last week in UIC’s transportation facility, where university vehicles are serviced, at 1351 South Morgan.

UIC Spokeswoman Anne Ranallo said the rope was looped at one end and was dangling over the top of a fence inside that garage.

At least one employee interpreted that as a noose–a longstanding symbol of racial intimidation.

“The supervisor feels that it was a silly prank, but one that should not have happened,” Ranallo says.

Investigators haven’t been able to talk with everyone involved. One is on vacation and another has called in sick.

UIC Police are investigating to see if it was a hate crime – or anything criminal.

Ranallo said the investigation will also determine whether discipline or employee training is needed.