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Obama-Noose Costume At UW-Madison Football Game Sparks Bias Incident Reports

University: Student Took Mask Off, Was Allowed To Stay At Game

Aaron Gash/AP Photo

Three new bias incident reports have been filed since an individual wore a Barack Obama mask and noose costume to a University of Wisconsin-Madison’s football game Saturday.

Meredith McGlone, director of news and media relations at UW-Madison, confirmed the incident reports were filed after an individual wore a costume with an Obama mask and a noose to Camp Randall Stadium.

“The hateful message this sends to our entire community is contrary to our deeply held values – civility, respect, and the celebration of diversity,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank wrote in a statement.

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According to a different statement by UW-Madison, spectators cannot enter the stadium wearing a mask, but can put one on once inside. Blank’s statement said stadium staff spoke with the individual wearing the costume and asked him to remove the noose. He complied and was allowed to stay at the game, according to Blank’s statement.

“Some have asked why the individual was not ejected,” Blank wrote. “Once the noose was removed, the decision was made that the remainder of the costume fell within the stadium’s costume policies.”

Users on Twitter called the incident racist comparing it to lynchings of African-Americans, while others said it was free speech. Blank wrote in her statement that the costume was offensive, but the university must resist the temptation to condemn personal and political views it doesn’t agree with.

“We strive to build a campus community in which ideas and expression are exchanged freely, but also constructively, respectfully and in a manner that advances educational opportunities for our students,” Blank wrote.

During the first half of this year, the number of incidents reported to the Bias Response Team more than tripled. From January to June, 66 incidents of bias we reported, compared to 18 reports during the fall 2015 semester.

The team provides individuals who report bias with support systems and mental health resources on campus and throughout the community.

Students, faculty, and members of the community can report bias incidents.

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