UI Senate to discuss resolution to ban Chief at games at next meeting

UI Senate to discuss resolution to ban Chief at games at next meeting

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URBANA — Professor Jay Rosenstein plans to ask the University of Illinois Academic Senate to vote on a resolution calling on the UI to stop Chief Illiniwek appearances at campus sporting events.

He'll do so over the objections of Chancellor Robert Jones, who is concerned about losing the trust of Chief proponents just a few weeks after his first campus "Critical Conversation" on how to move forward without the Chief.

The resolution calls on State Farm Center and Memorial Stadium personnel to treat Chief appearances as protests, which aren't allowed at those facilities.

The Chief appearing "is clearly an action of protest against UIUC's decision to remove Chief Illiniwek from the court and from the playing field" in 2007, the resolution says, adding that UI personnel should therefore "enforce the no-protest policy and not allow a Chief Illiniwek character to appear."

"Although we've made significant progress in the last couple weeks, this thing is a long way from being resolved, and I am greatly concerned about any action that may be perceived ... as a violation of the trust and the confidence that we're trying to build around one of the most divisive issues in the history of this university," Jones said at Monday's Senate Executive Committee meeting.

Rosenstein argued that by allowing Chief appearances to continue, the university is violating the trust of Chief opponents.

"Where does the issue of trust fall between the promises that this institution has made to its Native American students and faculty and other people of color over the past 20 years?" Rosenstein said. "I just don't understand how in order to gain their trust, we have to not do what we did, which is get rid of the mascot."

The UI Academic Senate had been scheduled to discuss the resolution at its March meeting, but Rosenstein withdrew it to make technical changes.

At Monday's executive committee meeting, Rosenstein said he plans to present the resolution at next Monday's Academic Senate meeting.

"What this resolution asks for is to enforce a policy that's been enforced for decades selectively against only one side. Nobody knew there was such a policy until a group of people decided they wanted to come out and protest against the Chief," he said.

There was no vote Monday at the executive committee meeting, which could only request that Rosenstein withdraw the resolution, something he declined to do.

Jones, who said he spends up to 80 percent of some days dealing with the Chief issue, argued the resolution would not be effective.

"The only way we're going to get to the point where there will be no longer any appearances is through thoughtful conversation and negotiation and dialogue," he said. "You can pass a resolution every month every time you meet for the next year, and my observation, in terms of how strongly people feel about this, people are going to dig their heels in and it actually may end up undermining and regressing us relative to progress."

At Monday's meeting, UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler said the next step in the Chief conversation would be a "charrette" held from 4 to 6 p.m. on May 1 in the Illini Union's south lounge, where the top conclusions and findings from the first meeting will be posted on the wall.

The charrette will be an open house for the public, who will be invited to provide their notes and thoughts on the various findings.