Two University of Wisconsin students have apologized for wearing nooses around their necks during a protest intended to inspire action on climate change.
The short-lived protest took place around 10 am outside the Humanities Building on the UW campus. According to an email from UW Vice Chancellor Lori Reesor and Deputy Vice Chancellor Patrick Sims, the students, whom the university has not identified, removed the nooses and ended their protest after other students and faculty spoke with them about the racial implications of the noose as a symbol.
“We now understand that our decision to use nooses was wrong and we are deeply sorry,” the students said in a statement provided to Madison365 by the university. “We are really passionate about confronting global climate change and our protest was intended make everyone aware of the harm it is causing. We modeled our protest after a demonstration in Europe where protesters in nooses stood on blocks of melting ice. We should have considered that nooses have a very different history and meaning in the United States.”
The statement says the students are “taking action to repair the harm we caused through a restorative justice process.”
The email from Reesor and Sims, sent to all UW students, said they hope the incident serves as a “learning opportunity.”
“Regardless of whether the display of a hateful symbol is based on a lack of cultural understanding or an expressed intent to promote fear, the lingering legacies of what these symbols represent create visceral and painful reactions among many,” the email reads. “That harm is especially acute for people of color, for whom this history is very real. Let’s be clear: ignorance is not an excuse. We can and must do better. For those of us who are members of majority communities, our campus offers many resources through Student Affairs and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement to learn about racism and injustice and about how to be strong allies. And for those who are impacted by incidents like this, we want you to know that we support you and have resources to help.”
The Dean of Students Office and University Housing will host a discussion session at 3:30 pm Sunday at DeJope Residence Hall for anyone affected by the incident.
Nooses and similar symbols are banned at athletic events after a fan wore one along with a Barack Obama mask to a Badger football game in 2016. He was asked to remove the noose but was not ejected from the game; however, the season ticket holder whose tickets he was using had their season tickets revoked.