MADISON — University of Wisconsin officials on Saturday, October 29th asked a fan wearing what appeared to be a President Barack Obama mask and a noose around his neck to remove the offensive parts of the costume during the school's football game against Nebraska.
A picture circulating on social media showed the fan in a black-and-white jumpsuit, wearing the mask, the noose and a sign on his chest. Another person appeared to be holding up the rope of the noose.
The fan complied when guest services staff asked to remove the offensive parts of the costume, according to a school statement:
During the first half of this evening's Wisconsin football game against Nebraska, UW officials were made aware that an individual in the seating bowl had donned a highly insensitive and offensive costume. UW Athletics' guest services staff were dispatched to the individual's seating area where they asked him to remove the offensive components of the costume. He complied.
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.
University policy does not allow fans to wear masks while entering the stadium, but they are allowed to wear them once inside.
The school said 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."
Wisconsin says it also exercised its right to ask the fan to remove the offensive parts of the costume.