Wisconsin Badgers athletes detail racial problems on campus and demand change

A group of Wisconsin Badgers student-athletes are upset with what they perceive as racial inequalities on campus. Members of the football team and the star forward from the basketball team are among those who shared a Twitter post detailing their frustration Monday evening.

The stance comes shortly after a fan wore a racially-charged Halloween costume — a Barack Obama mask with a noose around its neck — to Wisconsin’s home football game on Oct. 29.

Here’s the Twitter post, as shared by Badgers hoops star Nigel Hayes:

Among the more powerful passages in the statement:

“We are loved during competition, but then subjected to racial discrimination in our everyday lives too. It is painful that someone in our community would show up to an athletic event with a mask of our sitting president, who happens to look a lot like us, with a noose around his neck. 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. This incident was yet another blow and reminder that there are people in this community that may not value diverse populations.”

The statement then detailed some of the alleged racial injustices the student-athletes have experienced, before closing with this request:

“We love the UW and are proud to be STUDENT-athletes here, and truthfully, our positive experiences 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 this campus, we implore Chancellor Blank and her cabinet to take action, be visible and 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. We want to be a part of the amazing legacy this university has held for years and years … On Wisconsin.”

Hayes, you might remember, appeared prior to Wisconsin’s Oct. 15 home football game to protest the NCAA and make his case for college athletes to be paid:

For now, the ball is in the administration’s court at Wisconsin. Shortly after the incident with the Halloween costume, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez released a statement in which he said he was “deeply troubled by the incident … and sorry for the harm it caused.” The two fans involved with the costume reportedly had their season tickets revoked. Alvarez also promised a revised policy for home games beginning with the Badgers' game this Saturday against Illinois.