Marching Illini director: Not all band members support 'war chant'

Marching Illini director: Not all band members support 'war chant'

In his first extended interview since it was made public two weeks ago that the "war chant" will no longer be played at Fighting Illini sporting events, the director of the Marching Illini is weighing in on the issue. Barry Houser said that while he supports the decision, he understands why people are upset and angry.

Houser said it was a collaborative decision that consisted of ongoing conversations with the administration for many years. He said even before he started at the University of Illinois in 2011, there had been discussions on whether the "war chant" should continue or not.

Houser said you have to look at how the music was making some students feel on campus, no matter if it was one student or 1,000 who might be offended by the chant.

Houser said some people have questioned his loyalty to the school's traditions.

Houser said there has been a misconception that all members of the Marching Illini supported the war chant. He said there have been some band members who did not support it and were uncomfortable with the music.

Houser also said despite the continued effort by some to get rid of the Three-in-One performance at halftime, it is not going anywhere.

Houser says that tradition, which he said band members have been a part of since 1926, is going to be preserved.

Houser added that the message from himself, Chancellor Robert Jones and athletic director Josh Whitman has been consistent in backing the Three-in-One.

Houser said the Marching Illini has a great deal of pride in the Three-in-One. He said the music needs to be protected.


Hear the full interview with Barry Houser here:

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BruckJr wrote on September 11, 2017 at 7:09 am

Houser needs to follow Jones and Whitman out the door.  Find a home at Berkeley or Vassar - some liberal bastion where PC rules.

CharacterCounts wrote on September 11, 2017 at 9:09 am

It seems if any one person is offended by something that is of tradition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, then it is removed or changed.  I am offended by the removal of the chant and the Chief.  Since  I  am offended, according to university officials, the chant and Chief should be returned.  I opine the chancellor shall be a short term chancellor like Nancy Cantor.  He seems to be in left field and does not have his feet on the ground with the common people of Champaign-Urbana.  It seems the best chancellors have been those who have been affiliated with the University of Illinois prior to their appointment as chancellor.  President  Ikenberry seemed to have the best  chancellors who related well to the university and the community.  The president sets the tone for the campus leadership.  Major changes such as elimination of the chant do not happen without the approval of the university president.

Community wrote on September 12, 2017 at 1:09 pm

"if any one person is offended by something that is of tradition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, then it is removed or changed."

How did you arrive at this? 

Tom Napier wrote on September 11, 2017 at 11:09 am

"Houser said you have to look at how the music was making some students feel on campus, no matter if it was one student or 1,000 who might be offended by the chant."

I take exception to this statement. One student does not govern the University of Illinois. While a thousand students comprise a larger number, they do not govern this University either. Given the student population is forty-thousand-plus, it would take tens of thousands to represent the student body and therefore form a credible argument. It would take a much, much larger number to represent the University of Illinois alumni and the University community as a whole.  This simple math should apply to any issue within the University of Illinois.

That said, Mr. Houser certainly must respect the opinion of any individual. Hopefully a respectful dialog would reveal that each party can make a valid point, and that respectful disagreement is possible without anger and enmity. Unfortunately, I suspect this isn’t happening.

My turn:

I am offended by the scoreboard’s excessive, ear-bleeding volume. Even though I’m old, I can still hear.

I’m offended at artificial attempts to generate enthusiasm. Humans generate enthusiasm. Humans aren’t electronic noise.

I am offended that the scoreboard totally overpowered the University of Illinois Marching Illini Drum Line’s performance at the north end of the east stands during the Western Kentucky game. This was an excellent performance that could only be watched, but not heard. What a shame neither the Band nor those who control the scoreboard respect the drummers enough to showcase their skills.

I am offended by rap music constantly blasted from the scoreboard.

I am offended by the “Shout” video blasted at ear-splitting volume every game. It reinforces racial stereotypes and mocks Catholicism.

There. Five items that must be removed from the University of Illinois cultural landscape. Why, because I’m offended. And according to Mr. Houser, that’s all that counts. Nuts to the rest of you!

CU_townie_2_time_UI_grad wrote on September 11, 2017 at 11:09 am

So don't come to the games. We don't need you there.

Tom Napier wrote on September 11, 2017 at 5:09 pm

It doesn't matter whether I'm at the games or not, at least not to you.  It $ure does to Jo$h Whitman.

It doesn't matter whether I've been to virtually every home football and basketball game since 1969, or whether I've never attended any UI athletic event in my life.  I'm offended and therefore am empowered -- no, obligated -- to voice my complaint.   Even Mr. Houser says so. 

rsp wrote on September 13, 2017 at 2:09 pm

The volume is too loud. Both at football and basketball games. You shouldn't have to yell into the ear of the person next to you because it's so loud. And it's a family event so kids are everywhere. Even babies, and their hearing is much more susceptible to damage at that levels. I've seen newborns there and it has to be painful for them.

honor9chief wrote on September 11, 2017 at 11:09 am

Hey Mr. CU, that's what we have been saying for years "go to another University if you don't like the Chief. Please follow our instructions. You aren't that kid going around burning our country symbol-----the flag of the United States. Probably is,  that's being taught at the U of Terrorists. Boom there you go. New color RED and Black, music by Chairman mao,

Why would we care what the band teacher has to say about how 124,000 local fans and "some band members" feel about how the U crapped all over the community. There has always been a love hate relationship with the U and CU. In 2007 the U stepped in their mess and now sound like Hillary Clinton blaming everyone but herself for the loss. The U mass merchandised the Chief grabbed the money from the local promotors and said too bad Illinois fans, can't touch us. If they didn't get the message after the billboard telling the U how they felt just let that pain in the a$$ traffic and all the other stuff we have to put up with the U.

Lastly I hope the Alum Assoc. and the Students for the Chief continue to either add the Chief or stop all associations like the 3 in 1 and any other remnants of the Chief. He was our flag not a mascot. How stupid to have a 3 in 1 to appease the paupers. STOP USING FIGHTING ILLINI IT IS JUST ILLINOIS. Kind of like going through the country on a horse with no name. Karma fitting end.

CU_townie_2_time_UI_grad wrote on September 11, 2017 at 1:09 pm

First, I am nearly 40, so not exactly a kid, but that is relative I suppose. Second, did it ever occur to you that the whining from the pro-Chief people is as annoying, unecessary, and unproductive as the whining from the anti-Chief group? Move on.

I'm personally neutral on the issue.  If they bring the Chief back I will support the Illini, if they get rid of the 3 and 1, I will support the Illini. I will continue to support Illini Athletics regardless because I am an actual fan. Political bickering can be formulated elsewhere around real issues. Too many people use Illini athletics as an excuse for political bluster on both sides.  Case in point; How does Hillary Clinton have anything to do with Fighting Illini sports?

Both sides sounds like a bunch of crybabies in my opinion.

jk3363 wrote on September 11, 2017 at 4:09 pm

Well said. 

It's like people forget that they have a chance to watch Division 1 College sports in their own community. Champaign would become quite the pit without it. 

But I guess the only thing that defines the U of I was the dancing indian and thirty second band tune. So fire everyone and shutter the programs. /s



honor9chief wrote on September 11, 2017 at 5:09 pm

Keep insulting native Americans. First those of us and our ancestors of CU have been slapped in the face by the U. The only people worried about Div. 1 football are the students and admin. Us loyal townies really don't care as long as they include us . Sure it was nice to have a Big Ten team but seriously people like you should catch a real Big Ten game and you won't see empty seats and giveaways. I saw quite a few and I am so glad I was able to witness Illini Football at a peak. 80,000 fans standing and stomping their feet it was electric. Just like you see at other Universities that have stayed course since their establishment.

jk3363 wrote on September 11, 2017 at 11:09 pm

Yeah the eighties were great. Guess that can all be attributed to our mighty and powerful mascot that gave the sports teams power from the heavens? That's how it works right? Brutus Buckeye has fueled Ohio State's success all these years? 

Oddly enough, as a sports fan in general I know quite a bit about the landscape of college football. I'm also well aware that it is entirely possible to get Illinois sports back to a high level. We just need to cut the dead weight like pointless mascots (or "symbols" herp derp) and the pathetic people that pay attention to nothing else but that.

Because it really makes the U of I an attractive place when idiots scream online until they are blue in the face about their favorite college kid dancing in the middle of the field in costume. 

Midwest wrote on September 26, 2017 at 10:09 pm

You know what, for someone that claims to be a "sports fan in general I know quite a bit about the landscape of college football" you sure don't respect any aspect, be it a mascot/symbol or band tunes, that make college sports unique. You said it yourself that mascots are pointless and those that support such things are dead weights. What's ironic is that you're displaying an immense cognitive dissonance that's simply embarassing.

CallSaul wrote on September 11, 2017 at 1:09 pm

Man, these bitter ender chicken feather 'chief' racist old mascot clingers just never stop whining and stomping their feet, do they...?

The racist moldy old mascot is gone and it's never coming back. The music is gone or on its way out as well.

Get over it and stop with the whining already...

Tom Napier wrote on September 11, 2017 at 5:09 pm

If you're addressing me ("bitter ender chicken feather 'chief' racist old mascot clinger") as you always do, I'll have to question your ability to comprehend the written word.  I wrote nothing about Chief Illiniwek, the war chant, or eagle feathers.  As you would demand of me, cite a source.  You do notice, don't you, I apply this comment to any issue, not exclusively the Chief issue.  I also addressed having a respectful discussion about opposing opinions, which you have proven to be unwilling to do.  The issue here is that a very, very small number of people have taken control of the UIUC and ignore the input from the vast majority.  Hardly the inclusive, nuturing, free-thinking academic environment the Administration pretends to foster.  Chief Illiniwek's purging is just a sympton, not the disease. 

Perhaps the red mist of activism obscures your vision.  Or the voices in your head translate all written or spoken words as (in a robotic tone) "he's a racist and a bigot -- insult him," regardless of the topic at hand. 

CallSaul wrote on September 11, 2017 at 5:09 pm

Tom, if I meant to address you, I would have.

A bit self centered of you to assume I was talking specifically and only to you when I in fact wasn't, don't you think...?

So 'respectful discussion' in your view includes talking about voices the heads of people who dare to disagree with you, huh..?

As usual, you want to be free to insult and be offensive as you please while demanding nothing but fawning respect be shown to you.

That is...unrealistic...

Why won't you answer whether you stand by your previous claim that 'smiling and happy' Aunt Jemimah isn't the least bit racist but is instead a very respectful and honorable portrayal?


Illiniwek222 wrote on September 12, 2017 at 11:09 am

First it was "racist, bigoted", then it was "RWNJS", then "chicken feathers" and now it's "Aunt Jemimah". So repetitive. Sad to see a mind deteriorate so rapidly. wrote on September 11, 2017 at 2:09 pm

You finished running your mouth on the election yet Sollie?


didnt think so.


Your hero's book comes out this week....... Learn how she managed to lose the election all on her own.

honor9chief wrote on September 12, 2017 at 5:09 pm

 I love it




UIUCHoopFan wrote on September 11, 2017 at 3:09 pm

He said there have been some band members who did not support it and were uncomfortable with the music.  That's an easy fix.....participate in a different musical ensemble on this campus or another campus.

Question:  Why isn't the Marching Illini moving on the field for the incomparable Three-in-One?  They just stood still last Saturday.  It wouldn't be because of the imagery conjured up of Chief moving through the band now would it?

Houser said the Marching Illini has a great deal of pride in the Three-in-One. What he should have said was MI had pride in the Three-In-One with the exception of a few who are not in support of it. 

Houser added that the message from himself, Chancellor Robert Jones and athletic director Josh Whitman has been consistent in backing the Three-in-One.

He said the music needs to be protected.  Why would it need to be protected?  OF COURSE!  Because in reality it IS in jeopardy!

Houser said you have to look at how the music was making some students feel on campus, no matter if it was one student or 1,000 who might be offended by the chant.  People are in charge of their own feelings.  A person's reaction is their responsibility.  The War Chant, Chief, Oskee-Wow-Wow, the Three-in-One were never written or performed with the sole purpose of offending anyone.  That's a personal choice.  The same holds true for the myriad of people who enjoy the music and the Chief.

Houser says that tradition, which he said band members have been a part of since 1926, is going to be preserved.  And that would be in the form of archived sheet music, audio recordings, and YouTube videos....just a guess on my part.  Just like pickles, put in a jar and stuck on a shelf.

Just another day at The University of the Tail Wagging the Dog.  OSKEE-BOW-WOW!


Illinimac wrote on September 11, 2017 at 3:09 pm

You really don't have to give one offended student a veto over what the band does at halftime.  When I was in school there was no requirement to attend sports events.  I believe that is still the case.  Having said that, there's nothing wrong with a more rational approach to selecting what to perform.  The War Chant was apparently started in the 80s and isn't original to Illinois anyway; it's the tune to "Pow Wow The Indian Boy" from Captain Kangaroo.  Apart from copyright issues it's really not part of the Illini tradition and for the pro-Chiefers it has nothing to do with the Chief's dance.  

chief21 wrote on September 11, 2017 at 6:09 pm

That's right Mr. Houser....let's find 2 students out of 152 who are anti War Chant....and toss it out. Just a matter of time on the 3 in 1....Jones and Houser are gonna do the latte night, tell nobody sneak coward move they did on the chant. The next few months are going to be spent looking for 2 or 3 who do not like the 3 in 1.
 Time to watch Florida State Seminoles.....and the Spear toss......Fantastic..!!!

honor9chief wrote on September 12, 2017 at 1:09 am

Definition of symbol1 :an authoritative summary of faith or doctrine


Definition of mascot:a person, animal, or object adopted by a group as a symbolic figure especially to bring them good luck

  • the team had a mountain lion as their mascot

#1. The Chief for many years only appeared at halftime this was to keep it as the symbol of authoritive  faith to the Illinois and specifically the Illiniwek. The University held the rights and turned the Chief into a mascot by selling t-shirts with drunk Indians falling down the stairs. Then they took this "a hostile" look smear program to cover their tracks for the error of making the Chief a merchandising star. Not what Charlene Teetor wanted so the U blames the Chief for bringing bad blood when it was them all along.

#2. You ever hear of the Bradley Braves? How did they do last year in Football? That's right they don't have a team and hasn't for decades. The students favorite boy was dressed in a headband and feather, hatchet and loincloth. Had to get rid of the hatchet just like the battle of the tomahak, too hostile GEEZ  I did meet a real nice young man in the Engineering program I asked if he ever played sports and he said he recieved a letter in frisbee golf. Blew me away. Not picking on Bradley it is a great University in many ways but unless you know your way around Peoria you might miss it.

#3. You also seem to have a way not only insulting the Chief as nothing more than a rabbits foot to you but also all of the loyal fans from CU and the surrounding areas. Loyal to you Illinois?

over and out here, good luck on naming the new team, music, colors etc. 



jk3363 wrote on September 12, 2017 at 8:09 am

Are... are you trying to tell me that the cheif is some kind of holy figure to you? 

This is the most insane take I've ever seen. How did this fanbase get so delusional? 


Local Yocal wrote on September 12, 2017 at 6:09 am
Profile Picture

What a mindless distraction this war chant business has become when there are more important issues the U of I could be addressing. The war chant, like Chief Illiniwek, were juvenile mimicry that needed to be stopped. But really, it's just a football game, people. I guess the News-Gazatte is milking this story for all it's worth.

honor9chief wrote on September 12, 2017 at 10:09 am

Here are the BOY SCOUTS being TAUGHT Native American heritage. Seems to us that "white man" still speaks with forked tounge. Quit trying to defame, slander and running your smear campaign against Native Americans, Boy Scouts AND all those Native American fans in CU and insulting the ancestors of this state. 


Authentic Native Americans war chants and dance.



jk3363 wrote on September 12, 2017 at 11:09 am

It was a mistake to even try and engage you. You are clearly unhinged. 

The Chief's dance was not grounded in any tradition of the Illini Confederation or it's member tribes. The war chant was not either. Even the outfit wasn't true true historical sources. Are you saying the best protrayal of these people was via generic Native images? 

Your sources are actual Native Americans teaching their actual traditions and customs. There is zero way the Chief and it's attachments sought to embody that. (Frankly, I wished it tried, but whatever).

My whole point is that this whole chief business isn't that big of a deal, for people to be dropping fandoms and lighting themselves on fire. Apparently some people have turned a kid dancing at half time (Who at best had single digit percent of Native American heritage) into a God like figure.

Can't I just watch some Football, Basketball etc. without all this crap? 





CallSaul wrote on September 12, 2017 at 12:09 pm

The sense agrievement in certain white people who love nothing better than to nurse their delusional self pity is truly something to behold.

Their complete lack of self awareness, compounded by their overactive sense of priviledge and entitlement as well as their ever present persecution complex, means they have no idea how ridiculous they look as they vow to abandon the school and tradition they claim to love so much over the removal of a racist chicken feather 'chief' mascot and fake Indian music cribbed from a cartoon that ran on Captain Kangaroo when they were children... 

Community wrote on September 12, 2017 at 1:09 pm

I would like to see Pro-Chiefers defend the following assumptions:

(1) An act can't be racially problematic if the person performing the act doesn't think it is.

(2) An act can't be racially problematic for a group if a member of the affected group doesn't think it's problematic for them. 

(3) The central claim of the anti-Chiefers is that they are "offended" by the Chief. 

Midwest wrote on September 26, 2017 at 11:09 pm

What a clever post. You show your cards when you say that Pro-Chiefers have to defend your proposed assumptions. My question: Why should they defend your assumptions?

Issue w/ (1): This your attempt to isolate the action and make it questionable. Insert any questionable act that's considered a violation of law. Let's take theft. Theft can't be a crime if the person performing the act doesn't think it's a crime. Now is theft a social construct or is theft an action that's innately wrong? In your assumption, you're trying to impose the sense of offensivness in order to paint X act as questionable. You carry on to your next assumption.

Issue w/ (2): Again, same attempt as (1).

Issue w/ (3): Poor conclusion. You frame (1) and (2) so the Pro-Chiefers will answer false to each. But it fails to drive any feelings of solidarity with the anti-Chiefers, which, after all, is your goal - and this assumption is spot on.

honor9chief wrote on September 12, 2017 at 1:09 pm

Alrighty then Another typical anti tradition puke along with commie saul insulting the boy scouts, white people, and Native Americans. What would happen if anyone insulted Mr. Jones of proud heritage called him BUCKWHEAT. You seem ok with insulting every other race being white or Native American.  I ALSO WISHED THEY DID THE RIGHT THING ALSO BUT THE MONEY GRABBERS AT THE U CAUSED THE PROBLEM AND THEY GO ON THIS TYPICAL COMMIE FEAR AND SMEAR CAMPAIGNS it's Hostile image ohh boo hoo I'M MELTING HELP MEEEEEEEEEEEE. 

"People speaking their minds, nobody's right if everbody is wrong"  Take a look around you, we have moved on and can find other things to do on a Saturday like watching a good school with great fan participation ALONG with the community they reside in rather than destroy the community like the U has done. Just saw a clip on the Big Ten about Joe Giardi and his affiliation with his Alma Mater. That's what a true Alum looks like. Remember when Northwestern was the doormat? Enjoy the view Illinois, (not Illini).

I suggest a meeting between Josh and the Missouri Valley Conference and request a membership then we can have a real battle of 74! Illinois, Bradley and Illinois State. Let's just get a school like Nortre Dame that way when the racist U lets students wear Irish regalia mocking the Irish people slaves you can lie and say "No we aren't disgracing Irish people we just want to get drunk and act like a supposed drunk Irishman. How do you keep insulting Native Americans, Boy Scouts, White people, Irish descendants from a supposed "diverse University". ? LMAO

jk3363 wrote on September 12, 2017 at 1:09 pm

You've responded to precisely none of my points. I can't even begin to comprehend what this written diarrhea is supposed to be. I've insulted the boy scouts? The U of I is destroying the community? Illinois should join the MVC? 

The NG comment section is an affront to mankind and should be shut down for everyone's sake. 

I need a shower. 


jk3363 wrote on September 13, 2017 at 9:09 pm

I've slept on it. Since you've failed to elaborate even slightly, I've come to the conclusion that this post right here is the single dumbest thing I have ever had the misfortune of reading on this website. You beat out many other good choices from the pointless back and forth that happens below a crime report, anything political on this site, Moonpie's daily foaming at the mouth regarding Illinois sports, all of them fall short to this insane incoherent rant. It's a kind of stupid that would make yahoo answer users take a step back and rethink their lives. It's so stupid, I went and applied for jobs out of state so I may not have to wake up and know there is a chance I might have to interact with you at somepoint while living in C-U.

I am going to print off your post, frame it and send it to the News Gazette online team. They need to see what monster they have created. They deserve to lose as many brain cells as I have reading this post.

Frankly my dude, you deserve a medal. I'm not even mad or disappointed. I'm impressed it's even gotten to this point.


sanjuan wrote on September 12, 2017 at 3:09 pm

Not sure what your point is about Bradley.  They dropped that image and therefore fell on football misfortune?????   I grew up in the Peoria area, went to Bradley and am old enough to know that they dropped football because they felt they couldn't compete in that sport at the Division 1 level.  It was a rational, reasoned decision.  They could have decided to compete at a lesser level and chose not to. 

The Brave image was actually changed many, many years later.

Not sure about their frisbee golf status nationally, but they have a decent soccer program, occasionally are competitive at basketball (sound familiar?) and actually outperform nearly all of the schools in the country in the decidedly non-athletic activity of Speech and skills that hang in there longer for most people than football.

And it really isn't hard to find at all.  It's on Main Street for Pete's sake!!!

byrdslover wrote on September 13, 2017 at 2:09 pm

No Chief. No War Chant. Illinois football undefeated.


Illiniwek222 wrote on September 14, 2017 at 10:09 am

Great point. Now how about a schedule with the toughest junior colleges in the state.