UI student vote favors Chief Illiniwek

CHAMPAIGN — By a nearly 4-to-1 margin, University of Illinois students supported Chief Illiniwek in a recent referendum.

The release of the results was prompted by a student judicial group that reviewed the "constitutionality" of the University of Illinois Student Senate's actions surrounding Chief Illiniwek. That decision is expected within a month.

On Wednesday, students delivered oral arguments before a moot court at the College of Law. On one side is a group of students who object to student senate sponsorship of a mascot design contest. And on the other side are students who said the contest was not an official call for a new mascot, but a simple poll. Moreover, they argued, a 2008 student referendum that showed support for Chief Illiniwek was nonbinding. The UI Board of Trustees voted to retire the Chief in 2007 after decades of debate on the subject.

Last week, the Campus Student Election Commission was ordered by the student moot court not to release the results of yet another referendum that polled students' support for Chief Illiniwek. The court imposed an injunction on the results until after the hearings were held. Those results were released just after Wednesday's hearing.

In response to the question, "Do you support Chief Illiniwek as the official symbol of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign," 9,003 students marked 'yes' and 2,517 students voted no, according to the commission.

"The voice of the student body has spoken: they are pro-Chief Illiniwek," said Josh Good, a UI student and administrator of the group "Stop Campus Spirit Revival." His group opposed Campus Spirit Revival's contest soliciting entries for a new mascot logo and brought the case to moot court.

In 2011, the student senate, a quasi-legislative body of elected students, agreed to co-sponsor an art contest for a new mascot sponsored by Campus Spirit Revival. The resolution was sponsored by David Pileski, who was student body president at the time. Pileski is now the student trustee representing the Urbana campus.

The contest, which invited students to submit ideas and logos, didn't take place until this school year. Images submitted evoked Abraham Lincoln, owls, eagles, ears of corn and more. The winner of the most votes has not been released.

"It's important to move on. We need to get over this as soon as possible," Pileski said.

It's unclear when exactly the student court will release a statement or decision, but several students said they believed it would occur within a few weeks or a month. Pileski said this is the first time the moot court has met following its creation almost a decade ago.

"We're all new to this process," he said.

Student judges on the moot court declined to comment after the hearing; a faculty adviser also refused to discuss the case.

UI administrators have said the issue is a student one. However, Chancellor Phyllis Wise, in a letter to students prior to the referendum, said, "there is really no way to go backwards."

"While many have memories of the Chief and numerous other past campus traditions, it is important to understand the distinction between recognizing our history and embracing our future. I feel we must continue to move forward together as a family. ... When we are distracted, divided, or lose focus on our ambitious future, we create additional challenges in our constant endeavor to continue to be one of the finest public research universities on the globe," she wrote.

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UIUCHoopFan wrote on March 13, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Is anyone listening?  Most of the students voting in favor of Chief Illinewek NEVER saw him at an athletic event yet the the tradition and admiration still runs deep.  As long as I live I will never understand the negative position on a symbol that never utters a word yet holds thousands speechless, standing silent out of respect and reverence for a Native AMERICAN.

Political correctness be damned!  Replace it with honesty, loyalty, and integrity!

Long live The Chief - Yesterday, Today, Forever!

ronaldo wrote on March 13, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Please do not confuse fact with fiction.  The Board of Trustees did NOT vote to retire the Chief.  Lawrence Eppley, the chair, made the decision on his own to retire him.  A month later, for the mere sake of maintaining uniformity, the board "voted", but he had already been retired by Eppley.   

If you don't like the way things are going, why bother working with those authorized to do so?  Just ram it down everyones throats. And then retire amid the admissions scandal.....

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/28/lawrence-eppley-u-of-i-tr_n_246519.html

sparky123 wrote on March 13, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Hey, let's rent Cheif Osceloa from Florida State....don't seem to be a problem with that Chief? The Chief rules and lives on...

Dogma3 wrote on March 13, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Wonderful news and I am thrilled and not really surprised.  There continues to be strong love and support for The Chief.  I do not consider myself a bigot (never have), and I have a close native American Indian ancestor.  Unfortunately, I am afraid that the majority will not rule in this instance, but I'm hoping and praying The Chief will be restored as our Symbol. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 13, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Whether your for, or against the Chief; the NCAA is the money issue.  If the Chief is revived, what about the NCAA's decision?  It is about money in athletics, not mascots. 

TheChiefLives wrote on March 13, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Sadly, I agree.

heyyou wrote on March 13, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Why isn't Florida State being held to the same standards???? Nothing is happening to them, and if the NCAA penalizes Illinois and not other schools, sounds to me like discrimination.

bernies wrote on March 13, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Florida State WAS held to the same standards. They got the Seminole tribe to approve their mascot... 

thelowedown wrote on March 14, 2013 at 12:03 am

FSU gets permission from the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

mark taylor's ghost wrote on March 13, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Chief Wahoo wouldn't have time to return to the university even if they wanted him. He's too busy skipping and prancing around at Hoopston high school dances.

You know, because RESPECT!!!!!11!

Lostinspace wrote on March 13, 2013 at 6:03 pm

It's hard for me to understand the heat of the controversy surrounding this trivial issue when so few are concerned about the poor quality of undergraduate education (TAs untrained, unqualified, unsupervised, pathetic Gen Ed courses, etc.) and the millions spent on non-academic matters, travel, and funds for irrelevant "research."  It is to weep.

spangwurfelt wrote on March 13, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Not going to make one jot of difference.

NMLadyUofIGRAD wrote on March 13, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Live in the SW now.  Fully support treating native indigenious people respectfully.  This makes no sense!  Ask adminstrators to write essays on why Chief Illiniwek is disrespectful.  This IS a University.  Prove your hypothesis.  

By your thinking my HS Vikings should be changed.....  How about Uof NM Lobos?  I mean wolves are in peril AND we use Spanish. (aghast!!) 

 

thelowedown wrote on March 14, 2013 at 12:03 am

Why is Chief Illiniwek a disrespectful appropriation?

  • the dance is not authentic, but a Boy Scout fancy dance
  • the headdress/clothing is not authentic, but Lakota Sioux
ronaldo wrote on March 14, 2013 at 9:03 am

Excellent copy/paste hack job.  Well, almost.

You forgot a few pieces of critical information:

"The three- or four-minute dance is based on fancy dance, a style that originated from the Plains Indians as a means of providing a more secular display than purely sacred dancing, and which is practiced today by many Native Americans at pow-wows."

Wow, when you look at the facts suddenly it doesn't look quite as "pale-face" as you make it out to be.

 

jlc wrote on March 14, 2013 at 1:03 pm

As long as we're cutting and pasting from Wikipedia:

"Although it is claimed the dance is similar to traditional fancy dance, the Chief's routine includes mid-air splits, which are rarely found in Native fancy dance."

"In 2005, a new Chief, John P. Froman, when asked his position by the NCAA, indicated that "the Chief was not representative of our tribe and culture, mainly because the costume is Sioux.""

 

Bulldogmojo wrote on March 15, 2013 at 12:03 pm

"Sacred"? Well why didn't you say so? If its "sacred" we could skip all that and have the flying nun (my choice) or a chorus line of dancing Muhammads or...

jlc wrote on March 14, 2013 at 7:03 am

Since the actual living descendants of the Illiniwek have asked the university to stop using the Chief, it's hard to see how ignoring their wishes is anything other than disrespect.

myattitude wrote on March 14, 2013 at 10:03 am

I believe that is a distortion of the true facts. The Peoria Tribe had no problem with the Chief and voted to retain him at one point. When the NCAA action heated up, I believe the American Indian Movement (AIM) which is a left wing organization went to the Peoria Tribe and "persuaded" them to change their vote.

To my knowledge no one has revisited the issue with the Peoria Tribe which would probably enjoy a licensing royalty from the Chief as is done at the other universities which have kept their Native American names and symbols such as FSU.

It is all about money.

jlc wrote on March 14, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Your timeline is off. The Peoria Tribe issued its resolution against the Chief in 2000, whereas the NCAA's proclamation didn't come until 2005. It's my understanding that the change in position occurred when members of the tribe visited here, saw how the dance was performed, talked to Native American students here, and went away appalled (http://www.retirethechief.org/Dialogue/haney.html).

The Ogalala Sioux also asked for their regalia to be returned to them because that regalia was being misused and the Chief was disrespectful. It's not all about the money.

UIUCAlum wrote on March 14, 2013 at 9:03 am

As an alum with deep connections to the Chief through various campus involvement, I am still saddened that a decision was made to remove such a great tradition of the university essentially on the grounds of lifting sanctions from the NCAA to host post season competitions, etc. I disagree with the focus that the student population and Illini base needs to "move on" from such an honored tradition. Unfortunately, many of the current students advocating either side of this issue have little to no base for their opinion. An example of that being the push to "move on" from the representatives of the student body. Personally, I would rather have no mascot over any of the alternatives including an eagle, an owl....an ear of corn? The students in favor of these representatives need to learn more of the history and tradition of the University of Illinois.

mark taylor's ghost wrote on March 14, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Seriously, Whitey the Corn Farmer.

I'd having nothing but respect and honor in my heart as he stumbled around with a jug o' 'shine, a straw hat, no shoes, and dirty, raggedy overalls.

If you don't see how much respect and honor I hold for the noble symbol of a noble people, Whitey the Corn Farmer, then you're just ignorant and need to be educated after you shut up complaining.

myattitude wrote on March 14, 2013 at 10:03 am

I believe that is a distortion of the true facts. The Peoria Tribe had no problem with the Chief and voted to retain him at one point. When the NCAA action heated up, I believe the American Indian Movement (AIM) which is a left wing organization went to the Peoria Tribe and "persuaded" them to change their vote.

To my knowledge no one has revisited the issue with the Peoria Tribe which would probably enjoy a licensing royalty from the Chief as is done at the other universities which have kept their Native American names and symbols such as FSU.

It is all about money.

cpiusweibel wrote on March 14, 2013 at 10:03 am

If the UI brings back the Chief, I want them to bring back the Chief Crapper Capper toilet lid and the Chief toilet paper (with the Chief on every sheet), like they used to sell at the UI student Union.

rsp wrote on March 14, 2013 at 10:03 am

I forgot about that! I should have planned ahead, could have made a fortune with a decked out potty for people to use at home games. Paint it orange and blue and charge them for every "shot". Extra for pictures.

jlc wrote on March 14, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Clearly part of the respectful and honorable tradition that so many people are fighting to maintain.

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 14, 2013 at 2:03 pm

All of the back, and forth about the Chief still does not address the NCAA's decision.  Collegiate athletics is about money, not mascots.  The obstacle is the NCAA, and the loss of money without it's stamp of approval.

Joe American wrote on March 14, 2013 at 6:03 pm

How much do we really benefit from hosting post-season wrestling & women's tennis tournaments?  The NCAA isn't going to give us any basketball tournaments, and we certainly aren't going to get a bowl game, so why we don't tell the NCAA to go .....themselves?

SaintClarence27 wrote on March 15, 2013 at 8:03 am

For one, because the NCAA is right about this. This is a school of higher learning - why would we perpetuate a cariacature stereotype of Native Americans?