UW-Madison will review policies at Camp Randall Stadium after photos of a man in costume with a noose around his neck stirred outrage, with officials saying they will seek to ensure “that symbols of this type are not displayed in our stadium again.”
The man was wearing a prison jumpsuit and masks of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and was led around the stadium by a noose carried by a man wearing a Donald Trump mask.
The announcement from Chancellor Rebecca Blank and Athletic Director Barry Alvarez on Tuesday was the third from campus officials since photos of the men first circulated during the UW football game Saturday.
They wrote in a joint statement that the display “has no place on campus.”
But the statement stopped short of saying that nooses will be banned from Camp Randall and other UW athletics venues. UW spokesman John Lucas declined to clarify whether that was the case, saying “all options ... would be considered” in the review by the university’s athletic and legal departments.
Tuesday’s statement was the most strongly worded one campus administrators have released since Saturday night, and comes after photos of the costumes circulated widely on social media and news websites, including the Wisconsin State Journal, and was published on the newspaper’s front page Tuesday.
In addition to wearing the prison jumpsuit, the man in the noose held a sign on which he wrote “Bernie 2016” and references to the Clinton email scandal and the attack in Benghazi, Libya.
Stadium staff members asked one of the men to remove the noose after learning of the costume during the first half of the game against Nebraska, officials said. State Journal photos show that the man was wearing the noose while walking around the stadium later in the game, however.
Campus officials in prior statements stressed that staff asked the man to remove the noose voluntarily, which he did, and said the display was an expression of offensive, but protected, free speech.
Students, faculty, alumni and others have denounced both the fans who wore the costume and what many saw as a weak response from administrators.
“To those who have spoken out about this, we hear you and we thank you for your feedback and concern,” Blank and Alvarez wrote in their statement.
Christy Clark-Pujara, an African-American studies professor who teaches about lynching, was among those criticizing the university’s earlier statements, saying they glossed over the brutal history of lynching and broader problems people of color face at UW.
On Tuesday, Blank and Alvarez acknowledged the history of lynching and significance of the noose in their opening sentences, and referred to “campus climate issues” they are working to address.
“What we saw Saturday night at Camp Randall was despicable and caused an immense amount of pain throughout our community,” they wrote. “We can’t ignore the significance of this history and we can’t underestimate the symbolism of a noose to all those who see that image today.
“Together, we will continue to strive to make UW-Madison a place where all Badgers can thrive.”