Wisconsin announces new fan behavior and carry-in policies for sporting events

MADISON | Last week, Wisconsin officials said they’d have updated policies and procedures in place by this weekend for their different sports venues after a fan wearing a President Barack Obama mask and a noose around his neck was seen at Camp Randall Stadium during a game last month. On Wednesday, those revised policies were announced.

Among them, include the barring of “nooses and ropes” from venues, with Wisconsin saying those will now be treated as weapons that constitute a threat to safety.

“Any person who engages in violent, threatening, abusive or otherwise disorderly conduct which tends to provoke a disturbance or incite violence will be ejected from our events,” the new policies read. “Threats include statements, actions and behaviors that could reasonably be foreseen as having a purpose to inflict physical harm, even if the person making the threat doesn’t have the ability to carry out the threat. Disorderly conduct does not require that a disruption actually occur. Any spectator carrying a prohibited item may be refused admittance or may be ejected from the venue.”

The new policies were the result of UW administrators, students and community leaders coming together over the past week to shore up perceived weaknesses.

“What happened at Camp Randall two weeks ago goes against everything we stand for,” athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a statement. “I am very pleased that we all were able to work together to improve our policies. I greatly appreciate the collaborative spirit of our meetings with leaders in our community. It is great to be able to talk, and even more satisfying that we took action.”

The policies also reiterate that any kind of disrespectful conduct towards others, including racist behavior, won’t be tolerated.

“This policy change is an important step in ensuring that our sporting events are free from offensive conduct that has the potential to create a disturbance,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in a statement. “I have asked the Office of Legal Affairs to work closely with the Division of Athletics in the next several weeks to review facilities use and other policies to clarify conduct rules at all of our sports facilities. We fully intend to include campus and community stakeholders in that process as well.”

Here are the complete changes announced by Wisconsin

CHANGES TO FAN BEHAVIOR, CARRY-IN AND TICKET POLICIES
Effective immediately, the following changes are made to existing policies:
1. Items prohibited from our facilities include nooses and ropes because they are weapons and they constitute a threat to safety, as do replicas of weapons.

2. Any person who engages in violent, threatening, abusive or otherwise disorderly conduct which tends to provoke a disturbance or incite violence will be ejected from our events. Threats include statements, actions and behaviors that could reasonably be foreseen as having a purpose to inflict physical harm, even if the person making the threat doesn’t have the ability to carry out the threat. Disorderly conduct does not require that a disruption actually occur.

3. The University of Wisconsin and the Big Ten Conference promotes good sportsmanship, appropriate fan behavior and a welcoming atmosphere for all fans at all athletic events sponsored by the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. Racist and other offensive behavior is not appropriate for our venues.

4. Any spectator carrying a prohibited item may be refused admittance or may be ejected from the venue.

Wisconsin student-athletes call for changes in addressing racism on campus

MADISON | In a show of solidarity, at least 25 Wisconsin athletes, including high-profile stars like Nigel Hayes and Corey Clement, sent out a similarly worded tweet Monday night that included an essay calling on the school’s administration to seriously address the racism they’ve encountered on campus.

The four paragraph statement, whose author is currently unknown, was scathing in its criticism of campus leaders, including Chancellor Rebecca Blank, and the handling of racial matters.

“These issues are in no way localized to UW. This is a national issue, and many universities across the nation need to start addressing how students of color are treated, and here at Wisconsin it starts at Bascom (Hall). Wisconsin can no only rely on statements, cultural competency emails and a few surveys to mediate this problem.

“We love the UW and are proud to be STUDENT-athletes her, and truthfully our positive experiences far outweigh the negatives, but no student should have to live through this negative climate.

“We ask that the university not continue to sweep the collective experiences of the students of color under a rug. So in solidarity with other students on campus, we implore Chancellor Blank and her cabinet to take action, be visible, leave your ivory tower and speak to the student.”

Though issues on campus have been surfacing more and more in the last year or so, including anti-Semitic and white supremacist graffiti being found at a dorm last February and the interruption of a Native American ceremony outside another dorm in March, the tipping point may have come when the Wisconsin football team played Nebraska on Oct. 29.

A picture of two fans, including one wearing a President Barack Obama mask with a noose around his neck, went viral, and many criticized the university’s handling of it. In response, community leaders came together with school administrators last week to discuss new guidelines for fan behavior at Camp Randall Stadium that are expected to be in place when the Badgers host Illinois this week. The school also announced on Monday, just a few hours before the essay was tweeted out, that the two fans involved with the costume had their season tickets revoked.

“I am personally very sorry for the hurt that this incident and our response to it has caused,” Blank said in a statement. “I have heard from students, faculty and community members who are dissatisfied with our response, and I understand why.

“We will learn from this incident and do better next time.”

In the essay, the student-athletes mention the incident at the stadium, but they contend that type of prejudice is far from a one-time thing, and they laid out other examples that people of color face as students and athletes in the classroom and on the street. Chief among them, other students questioning whether they’d be there at all if they didn’t play sports, racial slurs being flung at them in different environments and people clutching their bags and crossing the street to avoid them.

“We shouldn’t be commodified for mere entertainment, but respected as individuals with ideas and the ability to contribute to society,” the statement reads.

Blank said that they have taken strides in the past year to battle obvious forms of racism and attack it with various programs.

“This is a work in progress, and we are a long way from where we want to be,” Blank said. “But with your advice and input of governance, we have invested time, energy and effort into things like the Our Wisconsin program aimed at incoming freshmen, a bias reporting system, a review of our ethnic studies curriculum, and a black cultural center.”

Still, it appears more than a few student-athletes of color believe more is need.

“Please create real programs, initiate meaningful change and understand that students of color deserve to thrive in this institution just like our peers. We want to be a part of the amazing legacy this university has held for years and years…On Wisconsin.”