MADISON, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin removed a large boulder from its Madison campus on Friday at the request of a few minority students who view the rock as a symbol of racism.
Chamberlin Rock, on the top of Observatory Hill, is named after Thomas Crowder Chamberlin, a geologist and former university president. Students of color on campus say the rock represents a history of discrimination. The boulder was referred to as a derogatory name for Black people in a Wisconsin State Journal story in 1925.
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. It was previously estimated to have weighed up to 70 tons, but an updated measurement shows it weighs 42 tons. It will continue to be used for educational purposes at its new site.
The Black Student Union led the call to remove the rock last summer. Crews began removing it just before 7 a.m. Friday, securing it with straps and lifting it with a crane before moving it to a flatbed truck. It cost an estimated $50,000, covered by private donations, to remove.