A week after a man attended a Wisconsin football game in a mask depicting President Barack Obama in a noose, dozens of the university’s student-athletes took to Twitter to demand the school change how it deals with racial inequality on campus.

The tweets, which came from more than 20 black members of the Badgers’ football team, as well as black members of the basketball team and other sports, cited the Oct. 29 incident at a football game, calling it “painful.”


“That moment was like a punch in the face to not only student-athletes of color, but also current students, faculty and alumni of color,” an essay accompanying the tweets reads. “When we travel and play in other stadiums, fans have told us to get out of their country or to go back to Africa, but it hurts to receives that treatment at home.”

Black students at the university had voiced their concerns about the university’s handing of the incident earlier and demanded the administration do more. The season-ticket holder wearing the mask, which on one side depicted Obama and on the other Hillary Clinton, was told to remove the noose from around his neck but then allowed to remain at the game. Campus officials called the costume “repugnant” but argued the fan was exercising “his right to free speech.”

On Monday, more than a week after pictures of the offensive costume went viral, university officials once again apologized for the incident and noted they revoked the season tickets of the fans involved.

The student-athletes, however, remain unsatisfied with the normal handling of racial inequality on campus.

“Wisconsin cannot only rely on statements, cultural competency emails and a few surveys to try and mediate this problem,” the essay tweeted Monday night states. “We ask that the university not continue to sweep the collective experiences of the students of color under the rug. … [W]e implore Chancellor (Rebecca) Blank and her cabinet to take action, be visible, leave your ivory tower and speak to the students. Please create real programs, initiate meaningful change and understand that students of color deserve to thrive in this institution just like our peers.”

The essay also rejected the idea that being student-athletes somehow shields them as minorities from occurrences of racism. In fact, the essay states, “there are the assumptions that student-athletes of color wouldn’t have been admitted to this university on our own merits alone … we have to work twice as hard on top of our demanding schedules to prove to professors and classmates that we do belong here.”

The essay alleges that some professors have actually discouraged student-athletes from taking certain courses because “they assume it’s too challenging.

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