Chief Illiniwek still the man

The result of a recent student vote shows the memory of Chief Illiniwek is alive and well.

Chief Illiniwek — retired since 2007, vilified by some, revered by many — is still the big man on campus.

If anyone doubted that, the results of a recent student vote on the issue showed that the mythic figure remains an overwhelmingly popular choice as the athletic symbol of the University of Illinois.

That may came as terrible news to those people who go out of their way to be offended by almost everything.

In response to the question, "Do you support Chief Illiniwek as the official symbol of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana," 9,003 students voted in favor, while 2,517 voted in opposition. That's a landslide in anyone's book.

What's all the more remarkable about the election results is that so much time has passed since UI trustees retired Chief Illiniwek. No current undergraduates have seen an official Chief Illiniwek performance during their time here.

Maybe some saw him when they were younger. Maybe some have heard or read about him or seen video clips. But in their UI student experience, Chief Illiniwek has been a non-person.

That he would continue to draw such fervid support as well as such a strong voter turnout in a traditionally low-turnout student referendum stands as stark testimony to the power of Chief Illiniwek's memory — a memory the anti-Chiefs, despite their best efforts, have been unable to stamp out.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
Categories (2):Editorials, Opinions

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STM wrote on March 22, 2013 at 12:03 pm

The "chief" was never a man.  He (it) was made up —No more real than Tony the Tiger or Superman.  Sure, the Chief was cool at halftime when I was a kid but it's an anachronism, it's incorrect, and it's been dismissed.  Seldom have I seen anything more pathetic than watching people stand and go through the motions of an imaginary "chief" ceremony at an Illini game. 

I used to like the chief, I've moved on.  You should too.