UW officials commit to making policy changes before next home game

Leaders upset after offensive costume worn to Saturday's game

University of Wisconsin officials have committed to making stadium policy changes before the next home game in response to outrage over an offensive costume.

Boys and Girls Club CEO Michael Johnson and other black leaders met with University of Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez Wednesday to talk about an incident in the stands at Camp Randall Stadium last Saturday.

“We are looking for an immediate implementation because we cannot put people’s lives and liberty on hold,” said Caliph Muab-El, founder of Breaking Barriers.

Black leaders were outraged after a picture emerged of a man wearing a mask of President Barack Obama with a noose around his neck attending Saturday’s Wisconsin-Nebraska football game.

“If you hold this university and our sports programs in high regard, then you should behave in that way. Don’t give our university, celebrating our football program, the inability to recruit students who want to come here and make you feel good on Saturday because they no longer want to come because of something stupid that you did,” said Kaleem Caire, founder of One City Learning Centers.

UW officials asked the man to remove the offensive parts of the costume during the game, and he complied, according to a statement sent Saturday night. The University did not remove the man, stating the display is protected under free speech.

Students like Devon Hamilton see the costume as more than just bad taste.

“If we can’t start at this point and recognize these realities for what they are and realize that this is really hate speech, not free speech, then we can’t move on from that conversation,” he said.

African-American leaders held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to address a number of troubling incidents that occurred on campus recently. They discussed ways to improve and implement new policies to protect all students from bias incidents on campus with Alvarez.

“We as a community are asking that the university create policies that protect all students and guarantee all students the quality of life, of education that everyone is entitled to,” Muab-El said.

Those calling for action said the problem goes beyond the events at Camp Randall and highlights what students of color and other minority groups on campus face on a regular basis

“This is not just about a noose, it’s about this culture of complicity that allows the best of us to be walked around and be terrorized,” said Coach Assad, found of Mellowhood Foundation.

Alvarez released a statement along with UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank earlier this week, saying, “What we saw Saturday night at Camp Randall was despicable and caused an immense amount of pain throughout our community.”

After Wednesday’s meeting, members of the group who attended the meeting with Alvarez told News 3 their goal is to draft the new policies by Nov. 9. The new policies will include input from community and student leaders.