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UW moves 70-ton Chamberlin Rock off campus after student backlash

The 2 billion-year-old rock was removed Friday
Crews remove Chamberlain Rock from the University of Wisconsin campus on Friday, August 9, 2021.
Crews remove Chamberlain Rock from the University of Wisconsin campus on Friday, August 9, 2021.(WMTV-TV/Curt Lenz)
Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 8:21 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A large crane and grounds crew arrived at the University of Wisconsin early Friday morning to move a 70-ton rock that sat near the Observatory Drive scenic overlook.

The rock, formerly known as Chamberlin Rock, was being taken off-campus following an initiative last June by the Wisconsin Black Student Union and Wunk Sheek to remove it because a nickname given to the boulder is a racial slur.

It was referred to as a derogatory name in a Wisconsin State Journal story in the 1920s, at a time when the Ku Klux Klan was active on campus.

In a statement released Thursday, the university explained, “[r]emoving the rock as a monument in a prominent location prevents further harm to our community while preserving the rock’s educational and research value for current and future scholars.”

Crews remove Chamberlain Rock from the University of Wisconsin campus on Friday, August 9, 2021.
Crews remove Chamberlain Rock from the University of Wisconsin campus on Friday, August 9, 2021.(WMTV-TV/Curt Lenz)

Chamberlin Rock, which is believed to be over two billion years old, was described by the university as a large pre-Cambrian-era glacial erratic. It was named for Thomas Chamberlin, a geologist who served as university president from 1887 to 1892.

In November, the university’s Campus Planning Committee recommended moving the rock to Chancellor Rebecca Blank, who later signed off on the proposal. It will now be deposited on university-owned land near Lake Kegonsa.

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