University removes boulder from campus after students call it a ‘symbol of racism’

Everything is racist. Even rocks, those bigoted aggregates of one or more minerals found at the highest peaks and in the deepest oceans of the planet. Curse those racist rocks and their mineral privilege! At least that’s what some woefully-stupid college students at the University of Wisconsin would say about Chamberlin Rock, a monument that has been in place on the campus since the early 2oth century.

Not surprisingly, the university’s administration was happy to oblige the insanity, and early Friday morning crews were in place to secure straps to and remove the behemoth, ending racism once and for all.

The offensive boulder, which resided until Friday at the top of Observatory Hill on the Madison campus, was named after Thomas Crowder Chamberlin, a 19th century geologist and former university president. Removing the 42-ton fount of racial prejudice and bigotry was likely no small task, but its initial trek was surely even more daunting.

“The boulder is a rare, large example of a pre-Cambrian era glacial erratic that experts say is likely over 2 billion years old. It was carried by glaciers from as far north as Canada and dumped on Observatory Hill along with billions of tons of other debris when ice receded from the state about 12,000 years ago,” according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

The reasoning behind the move comes from a 1925 article in the journal that refers to the rock by what was a commonly-used nickname in that period. The racial slur, which cannot be mentioned here, caught the attention of the Black Student Union and Wunk Sheek, a campus organization composed mostly of indigenous students. Apparently quite adept at research targeting an entire century, the group launched a campaign last summer for the removal of the boulder, and after approval from the UW-Madison chancellor and the Wisconsin Historical Society, their wish was granted.

Juliana Bennett, a senior and a campus representative on the Madison City Council, said removing the rock would allow BIPOC students to “begin healing.”

“This moment is about the students, past and present, that relentlessly advocated for the removal of this racist monument,” she told the Associated Press. “Now is a moment for all of us BIPOC students to breathe a sigh of relief, to be proud of our endurance, and to begin healing.”

From what grave injustice they need to heal is unclear.

Kenneth Owens, a 20-year Madison resident offered this hot take on the matter:

“It’s not the rock’s fault that it got that terrible and unfortunate nickname,” Owens said. “But the fact that it’s … being moved shows that the world is getting a little better today.”

Gary Brown, the university’s director of campus planning and landscape architecture declared “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.”

And more relieved we could not be.

Other student organizations in the past have called for the removal of a statue of Abraham Lincoln that resides at the Madison campus, citing, of course, racism.

“I just think he did, you know, some good things … the bad things that he’s done definitely outweighs them,” Wisconsin Black Student Union president Nalah McWhorter told the Badger Herald. “And I do want the 100% removal of the statue. I don’t want it to be moved somewhere or anything like that. I want it removed.”

In stunning and brave defiance, the university administration refused to comply, but the 42-ton boulder, at a cost of $50,000 for removal, well, that just had to go.

And now for some Twitter commentary:

Frank Webster

Comments

Latest Articles