University Of Wisconsin Removes Boulder Seen As Racist Symbol

by : Hannah Smith on : 09 Aug 2021 16:52
University Of Wisconsin Removes Boulder Seen As Racist Symboluwmadison/YouTube

The University of Wisconsin has moved a giant boulder after a group of students raised concerns that it had in the past been referred to by a racial slur.

Minority students requested that the 70-ton boulder be removed from campus after uncovering a historic newspaper article that referred to the rock using a racial slur.


University historians who reviewed the 1925 article said they found no evidence that the term was used in an official capacity by the university, however they also confirmed that the Ku Klux Klan had a presence on the campus at the time.

Chamberlin Rock (uwmadison/YouTube)uwmadison/YouTube

The boulder, officially named Chamberlin Rock after a former president of the university, is estimated to be several billion years old, and according to the New York Post had sat on the site which eventually became the university campus for at least 12,000 years after being carried south from the arctic by glaciers. It was officially relocated on Friday, August 6, after university leadership agreed with the Black Student Union’s claims that the boulder was part of a ‘history of discrimination’, with both University Chancellor Rebecca Blank and the Wisconsin Historical Society signing off on the decision.

The process of moving the 42-ton boulder to a new location away from the Madison campus was far from straightforward, requiring a crane and a giant flatbed truck to haul it away in a process funded by an estimated $50,000 raised by privates donors. However the move has been praised by officials and local residents as a step towards righting past wrongs in the area.

Boulder removed from University of Wisconsin (uwmadison/YouTube)uwmadison/YouTube

‘Removing the rock as a monument in a prominent location prevents further harm to our community while preserving the rock’s educational research value for our current and future students,’ University of Wisconsin director of campus planning and landscape architecture told the Wisconsin State Journal.

Local Madison resident Kenneth Owens said that while ‘it’s not the rock’s fault’ it was referred to by a racial slur, its removal ‘shows that the world is getting a little better today’.

Following the rock’s removal, Thomas Crowder Chamberlin – the former University of Wisconsin president for whom the boulder was named – will be commemorated with a new plaque in Chamberlin Hall, a campus building near the former site of the boulder.


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Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith is a London-based journalist at UNILAD. After studying History at UCL she worked for print publications on both sides of the pond, including spells at Harper's Magazine and The Times, before graduating with an MA in Newspaper Journalism from City, University of London.

Topics: News, no-article-matching, Now, Racism


New York Post
  1. New York Post

    University of Wisconsin moves boulder seen as symbol of racism