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I am Disappointed in My School for Allowing Racist Acts

It is never okay to “joke” about lynching. Lynching is arguably one of the most shameful hate crimes used to kill over 3,000 African Americans in the span of about 80 years. These crimes were used as a form of racially driven intimidation.

Almost two weeks ago, two fans at the Wisconsin-Nebraska game thought it would be funny to depict a costume with Donald Trump lynching President Obama and Hillary Clinton. The situation was handled by Guest Services and the UWPD, but many are arguing it was handled poorly. 

Guest Services requested that these two fans either need to remove the “offensive” parts of their costumes or leave. While the fans did comply, the student body was outraged by how the situation was handled. The UWPD police chief had tweeted that that while it was an expression of free speech, our first amendment writes do not have to require good taste.  To qualify this act of racism as an exercise of free speech is blasphemous and sets us back almost 50 years. 

The fact that this stunt was pulled by individuals who are NOT students at our school makes it even worse. If fans that do not even attend our institution pull a racist “joke,” it reflects directly on our student body. Because of this stunt, our campus has been reflected negatively in national headlines. This is not who we as a student body are.  While the greater majority of enrolled students here are white, I’d like to believe that this is not what we as a student body believe. 

Rebecca Blank released a statement following the incident.  She said she recognizes many are upset the individuals were not evicted. “As offensive as this costume was, I believe our university must resist the desire to outlaw forms of speech and political dissent with which we disagree. We strive to build a campus community in which ideas and expression are exchanged freely, but also constructively, respectfully and in a manner that advances educational opportunities for our students.” She went on to say that though she personally did not approve of the costume, we cannot suppress other’s right to expression.  You can read the full statement here.

Letting such an act pass as a form of freedom of speech is opening the floor for others to repeat this act. I am ashamed that my university, which strides towards an all-inclusive community, passed this off as if it’s okay. They have come out with numerous statements classifying this as a shameful use of Americans’ first amendment rights. Unfortunately, with how this incident was handled, I question the legitimacy of these claims. I question whether this university is replying simply to the outrage or is replying because they actually see an issue. 

I understand that every person in this country has the constitutional right to free speech; however when you threaten the president with a harsh reminder of the history of this country, you are taking advantage of this right.  No one has the right to be racist.  I am ashamed that these fans were misrepresenting my university, and I am ashamed that the university did not stop this act of racism. 

Views are not a direct representation of the University of Wisconsin or Her Campus Wisconsin.

Hannah, originally from Milwaukee, WI is a Campus Correspondent for HC Wisconsin.  Hannah is a Senior and is studying Political Science and Psychology.  She aspires to work in health policy and will run for office one day.  She is never seen without a cup of coffee in hand and loves to eat any food in sight, especially sushi.  Outside of school, Hannah frequents Badger sporting events and likes to hang out with her friends on the weekends finding new things to do and new places to eat.  Hannah also runs her own Mary Kay business and is obsessed with keeping up with the latest makeup trends! This will be her seventh semester on the Her Campus team, and she loves the org more and more each semester!  It is Hannah's favorite thing that she is involved in on campus and highly recommends anyone with an interest in writing, journalism, or blogging to get involved, you won't regret it! On Wisconsin!! 
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