UW-Madison is moving forward on a plan to remove a boulder from Observatory Hill after calls from students of color who see the rock as a painful reminder of the history of racism on campus.
The 70-ton boulder is officially known as Chamberlin Rock in honor of Thomas Crowder Chamberlin, a geologist and former university president. But the rock was referred to at least once after it was dug out of the hill as a “niggerhead,” a commonly used expression in the 1920s to describe any large dark rock.
The Campus Planning Committee unanimously voted last week to recommend to Chancellor Rebecca Blank that the boulder be removed from Observatory Hill. Blank has previously indicated she supports the rock’s removal, though a timeline for removal has not been established.