I’m thinking that, with this latest development, this particular storyline has officially run its course.
During the Oct. 29 Nebraska-Wisconsin game, television cameras showed a shot of the crowd in which one fan was seen wearing a mask of President Barack Obama with a noose around his neck. The university was roundly criticized for allowing the fans involved to remain in the stadium — and their citing of “an exercise of the individual’s right to free speech” — although they did demand that the costume be removed. As the controversy continued to stew, UW athletic director Barry Alvarez felt compelled to issue a statement a few days later in which he described himself as “deeply troubled” and said their plan is to “have a revised policy in place” before the Badgers’ next home game.
With that next game, against Illinois, two days away, UW has announced the revised policy. From the school’s release:
Specifically, items prohibited in athletics facilities will now include nooses and ropes, which will be treated as weapons that constitute a threat to safety (as will replicas of weapons). In addition, policies will be revised to read:
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. Any spectator carrying a prohibited item may be refused admittance or may be ejected from the venue.
It will further be reiterated that UW Athletics promotes a welcoming atmosphere in its venues and that disrespectful conduct toward others may lead to ejection from the venue. Racist and other offensive behavior is not appropriate for our venues.
“What happened at Camp Randall two weeks ago goes against everything we stand for,” a new statement from Alvarez began. “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.”
“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,” UW chancellor Rebecca Blank said in her 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.”
UW announced earlier in the week that it had revoked the season tickets of two groups of fans involved in the incident. The revocation impacts a total of four season tickets.