UIUC Chancellor: Chief Illiniwek’s Retirement is Permanent
From WILL - News Local/State - February 26, 2013
UIUC Chancellor: Chief Illiniwek’s Retirement is Permanent
By Jim Meadows
Six years since the University of Illinois retired Chief Illiniwek, the symbol is still a point of controversy. A non-binding referendum on next week’s student election ballot asks if Chief Illiniwek should return as the symbol of the university.
On Tuesday, Chancellor Phyllis Wise said on WILL’s Focus that no matter the results of that referendum, the Chief’s retirement is permanent.
“The symbol of Chief Illiniwek has been part of our past,” Wise said. “It is something that some people really value as part of the history of the University of Illinois, but it is not coming back. Both the NCAA and the Board of Trustees said that this was not going to be in our future.”
The University of Illinois' Board of Trustees retired the Chief in 2007 to avoid NCAA sanctions that barred the school from hosting postseason athletic events. The NCAA deemed Chief Illiniwek, which was portrayed by buckskin-clad students who dance at home football and basketball games and other athletic events, as an offensive use of American Indian imagery.
That description is denied by supporters of the Chief, who say the symbol is a respectful one.
Wise said a return to Chief Illiniwek would be a step backwards, and that the university needs to move forward in a way that will include everyone.
University of Illinois students are going ahead with plans to hold a performance during Homecoming celebrating the school's former mascot, Chief Illiniwek.
Honor the Chief Society founder Roger Huddleston had said Thursday that the event featuring the retired U of I symbol would be postponed after the University gave supporters a cease-and-desist order over the use of the "Chief Illiniwek" name and the "ILLINI" trademark on pins, posters, and other merchandise.
However, by Friday U of I student Ivan Dozier, who is known as the "current chief," said that although the Students for Chief Illiniwek society could not afford both a legal fight and the dance, the organization decided late Thursday to ago ahead with the dance.
Huddleston said his group will not be obliged to back the students in case of any legal action, but he said he appreciates their enthusiasm for the Chief, which the U of I discontinued as an official symbol three years ago. Opponents called the Chief racially divisive.
Huddleston said not only can his group not afford the legal fight, and he said moving forward with the performance would jeopardize Students for Chief Illiniwek as a registered group on campus. He said he wants both groups associated with Chief Illiniwek to meet with U of I President Michael Hogan.
"I love my university," he said. "We're not trying to hurt them in any way, and I certainly don't want to hurt the students here. Hopefully we can come to an amicable understanding somewhere down the road here, and we can go on with our lives."
The Honor the Chief Society has held the event the past two years, renting out the Assembly Hall.
(Photo courtesy of the Chief Illiniwek Facebook page)
From AP - News Headlines - February 25, 2010 10:10 PM
Some University of Illinois students are taking their demand for two administrators' resignations to another level.
Members of Students for Chief Illiniwek found email exchanges that they claim show administrators conspiring to stop a student-sponsored Chief performance at the Assembly Hall last fall. Members of the Urbana campus' student senate are looking over a resolution calling for an investigation of Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Renee Romano's involvement. And now the leader of a new group opposing Romano, Jerry Vachaparambil, says they may try to recruit help from state lawmakers.
"Because this is a public institution, they can admonish administrators for not acting in the best interest of the taxpayers or the students," Vachaparambil said.
Romano says the email exchanges were not meant to stifle students' right to free speech and assembly. She says they were a conversation between officials struggling with the on-campus performance in light of the U of I's decision to retire the Chief three years ago.
"Administrators often talk back and forth about, well, if we do this what's going to mean and how does that all work," Romano said. "But ultimately, they were able to have their event."
The Student Senate may vote next week on the resolution, which also targets Romano's associate vice chancellor Anna Gonzalez.
From WILL - News Local/State - February 16, 2007 3:11 PM
The chair of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees has retired the tradition of Chief Illiniwek. The last halftime dance for the Chief will be Wednesday, February 21st, during the final men's basketball home game of the season. Larry Eppley says he is a fan of the Chief, but his decision was in the university's best interest. AM 580's Jim Meadows talked to him, along with Ted Land from the student-run television channel UI-7.
From WILL - The Public Square - September 09, 2005 11:53 AM
Five weeks ago on Friday, August 5th of 2005, the NCAA Executive Committee issued guidelines for use of Native American mascots at NCAA championship events.
Some of you may have heard about that already....
Hi. I'm Jim Berger, and I'm back in town.
Yes, the University of Illinois is one of among 18 schools that the NCAA singled out as maintaining "hostile or abusive" mascots, nicknames, or imagery. And that has been the talk of the town.
The controversy made national news on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer two weeks ago on Thursday, August 25, 2005 (see http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/sports/july-dec05/mascots_8-25.html). This commentary was recorded on Thursday, September 8, 2005. On the News Hour, Native American Charlene Keeters fought back tears before the cameras as she recounted the shock, anguish, distress and outrage she and her two children experienced at the sight of a non-indigenous dancer, decked out in 19th-century, Native-American garb, performing at the half-time of a University of Illinois athletic event.
Indeed, the Web site www.retirethechief.org speaks at considerable length about the intrinsic racism of this icon. That's right! If you actually thought that Chief Illiniwek was a wholesome symbol of a set of virtues to which we all might aspire, the racist label applies to you too.
I could go on; however, "The Public Square" affords us but three minutes together. What you can do is look to the write-up of this commentary at the community segment of the WILL Web site to glean all of the Web links to my source material. That is at www.will.uiuc.edu/community/publicsquare/.
And then Google the topic to find your own leads.
Look for yourself and draw your own conclusions. I refer you to the "Retire The Chief" site (http://www.retirethechief.org/index.html) where you will find U. of I. professor Tyeeme Clark dismissing critics of the anti-chief movement as "callous, cruel, unfeeling, and hard-headed."
I also refer you to PhD Jim Fay's posting at Chief Illiniwek.org entitled "The Roots of the Chief Illiniwek Tradition at the University of Illinois" (see http://www.chiefilliniwek.org/illinois/tradition-roots.htm). The historical background of this tradition does run in defiance of those "who were determined to impose civilization on the Indians whether they wanted it or not."
Seventy years ago a lot of Native Americans did not want "civilization"-which really was nothing more than arrogant, European culture-imposed on them. Native Americans worked hand-in-hand with those at The University of Illinois who honored traditional Indian culture expressly so as to preserve that culture at a time when it was under siege.
Indeed, to this day, Chief Illiniwek remains a touchstone for thousands to those who went before us.
Well, there is so much more to explore, but my time is up.
Thank you for your consideration. And whatever you decide, may your own conclusions be informed and truly balanced.
The University of Illinois Board of Trustees votes on a resolution that neither retires nor specifically preserves the controversial symbol, but calls for all sides to come to a consensus. As AM 580's Jim Meadows reports, it will be very difficult to find an outcome that would end such a polarized debate.
From WILL - News Local/State - November 13, 2003 4:27 PM
UI trustees tabled a resolution to retire the controversial symbol, which some consider a racist mascot. The resolution's author decided to delay a vote until a meeting in July. AM 580's Jim Meadows reports on the decision and the contentious atmosphere at the meeting.