A fan at tonight’s Badger overtime victory over Nebraska wearing a mask of President Barack Obama was asked the remove the noose around his neck, but was not ejected from the game, according to UW Madison Police.
When UW Police and Athletics officials were alerted via Twitter and text messages, Guest Services at Camp Randall asked the fan to remove the noose or leave, and he complied. He and his party later left on their own, according to UWPD spokesman Marc Lovicott.
On Twitter, both UW-Madison and UW Police repeatedly said they disagree with the symbolism of the noose but that it was “free speech.”
A statement issued by the Athletic Department reads in part, “UW Athletics’ policy regarding admission into the stadium with a costume stipulates that no one may be wearing a mask upon entering the facility. Once inside, it is permissible to wear a mask. The costume, while repugnant AND COUNTER TO THE VALUES OF THE UNIVERSITY AND ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT, was an exercise of the individual’s right to free speech. The university also exercised its rights by asking the individual to remove the offensive parts of the costume.
“UW-Madison is dedicated to promoting a campus environment where all people feel valued, safe and able to thrive. To that end, the university continues to encourage all of our community members to engage in discussion over vital issues in ways that promote greater understanding and respect for all persons.”
It is unclear whether the fan was a student, or which team he was there to support.