Native American Student’s Online Comments Opposing Chief Illiniwek Lead To Rally
By Jeff Bossert
A Native American student at the University of Illinois says she’s frustrated with administrators’ silence over the lasting image of Chief Illiniwek.
Senior Xochitl Sandoval wants a campus ban on apparel and accessories tied to the symbol that the U of I retired in 2007, saying Chief Illiniwek images and references represent a ‘legacy of disrespect and racism.’
Her recent comments in social media went viral , and led to a rally on the Urbana campus quad Tuesday night called ‘Walk With Xochitl”,
Sandoval says the administration has the power to change things, but she’s been told that any effort to create a mascot to replace the Chief has to come from students.
“With the amount of tuition that we pay, and with different departments that are supposed to work to having a safe environment for students, I think they’re ignoring an issue that is really important and continues to affect us as students, and it’s just unbelievable that they refuse to act on it", said Sandoval.
Sandoval says this issue is not just about her… and was satisfied with the estimated 70 people from different campus groups who attended the rally.
She’s graduating next month – but plans to stay in the community for a while to keep pressure on the U of I. In her initial message… Sandoval discussed having suicidal thoughts, but says she no longer has intentions of hurting herself.
In a statement… U of I spokeswoman Robin Kaler says no one measure can address issues of race and ethnicity, but the university would continue to hold dialogues about them.