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The Daily Illini

Confusion follows retiring of ‘War Chant’

Members of the Marching Illini cheer on the Illini during the game against North Carolina at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, September 10.

Members of the Marching Illini cheer on the Illini during the game against North Carolina at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, September 10.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Members of the Marching Illini cheer on the Illini during the game against North Carolina at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, September 10.

While neither student government members nor Illini Pride officials were included in the discussions, the University has retired the “Fighting Illini War Chant” from being played at sporting events, Kent Brown, associate director of athletics and media relations, said on Friday.

The dismissal of the chant — which was directly tied to the school’s old mascot Chief Illiniwek — was mostly discussed between University administration, the Athletic Department and leaders of the Marching Illini. Members of the Native American and Indigenous Student Organization, or NAISO, were in talks as well.

The NAISO declined to comment, but did release an official statement regarding its thoughts on the retiring, saying the organization was “pleased to hear that the University has made the decision to remove the war chant during sporting events.”

“We have had the opportunity to speak to members and leaders of the Marching Illini, and while we were personally not involved in final decision of removing the war chant, we are inspired to see how committed the band leaders are to promoting school spirit and making sure that we feel welcome during their performances,” the statement said.

Sam LeRoy, senator in student government, said he wasn’t sure who made the ultimate decision, but plans to ask Chancellor Robert Jones at Monday’s Senate Executive Committee meeting.

“I have a lot of questions for him about the process that went into this,” LeRoy said. “It’s really unlikely that a decision would have been made without at least the support of the Chancellor, if not driven by the Chancellor.”

LeRoy was unaware that NAISO was in talks with anyone regarding the chant. Other student officials said they weren’t involved either.

“Student government was not invited to any conversation regarding that,” said Raneem Shamseldin, student body president.

While Illini Pride respects the University’s retirement of the chant, they said it still came as a surprise.

“Nobody told us beforehand. If someone had we obviously wouldn’t have played it,” said Illini Pride President Ross Drucker. “It’s not like we tried to push the envelope. We respect that decision, but we were just kind of caught off guard.”

Brown said the decision came about in efforts to become more inclusive at games, adding the chants weren’t doing the job of hyping up a crowd as they were supposed to. Drucker said this was “an interesting way of phrasing it.”

“I think what happened, if it wasn’t truly engaging, the chant wasn’t deployed or utilized in the right way,” Drucker said, adding it’s better at basketball games for intimidating the competitors than at a soccer match.

“In some situations he’s right, but I think it really did have its moments where it worked very well,” Drucker added.

Yet, ultimately, Drucker said his organization is focused on school pride rather than fighting the retirement.

“It is our job to provide students with the best game day spirit,” Drucker said.

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  • safeblonde

    Triumph of the Progressive Left! Onward…crush history! (that’s sarcasm for those idiots in administration…)

  • CaptainParker

    The baying dogs of political correctness are alive and well in Urbana. No doubt the instigator of this was a certain professor in the Native American Studies program who has also expressed his intention to force abandonment of the “Three-in-One” as well. Enough of this catering to a handful of minority group malcontents. The majority population on campus has some rights too. The question is whether those rights will be ignored in the interests of “diversity” and “inclusion.”

  • Doug Duker

    This retirement essentially eliminates our home field advantage. The War Chant is the only cheer which unifies the athlete and fan and is a key element to the Illini identity. As an alum, there are plenty of neutral fields I can watch the illini play….the reason to rekindle memories of Champaign are less and less with each retired tradition. It is time to consider what the Illini identity is…we’re spending a lot of money on athletics to not offer a compelling home field advantage.

    • Adam

      Get a grip, man.

      • Jeffrey Price

        Hey Adam, bite me. Mr. Duker is correct. If you’re such a snowflake then go somewhere else. Bring back the Chief!

        • Adam

          Hey Jeff, who’s a snowflake when only you and Doug can’t contemplate having school pride or athletic advantage without racist tropes? Just pick something new; make a new tradition. You people are being strangled by fake nostalgia.

          • safeblonde

            Disagreement by those of us on the side of the Chief and traditions does not make racists. Keep throwing that word around and when real racism is seen there will be no words for it.

          • Adam

            Your bar for “real racism” must be pretty low. Fake play Indians and schoolboy game “traditions” that mock and ignore actual Native people and their requests for respect of their real cultural traditions is a textbook example. It’s blackface and minstrelsy in a different color.

          • Adam

            You’re a racist too.

          • safeblonde

            If anyone cares, here is your proof that when a lefty doesnt know how to argue he just says you are racist.

          • Adam

            No, it’s just that you’re a racist. We’re done arguing that we deserve our full humanity. Native people aren’t the playthings and props in the great American myth, no matter how many fake war whoops and chicken feather headdresses drunk college students and man-child alumni make because they’re too unimaginative to do something that doesn’t degrade a race of people.

  • Mark Harms

    So how many promised NCAA regional BB games has Illinois hosted since the NCAA forced them to retire the Chief????????????????????

  • Mark Harms

    And there is NO “confusion”. It was intentionally done behind closed doors.