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The Daily Illini

Creativity can carry UI through controversy


Chief Illiniwek is a memory —and should remain one for those who support him, however it is time for the University of Illinois to move on and to move forward. There is an undeniable rift on this campus that will not go away overnight. The Unity resolution put forth by the Illinois Student Senate that makes no claims that it will do so. In fact, the authors stated that they acknowledge the difficulties that a new mascot (or symbol or emblem) may bring in the beginning. However, I’m hard-pressed to think that these difficulties can’t be overcome, and I believe that the final outcome will fill a void that has been present for three years, making the campus a more comfortable place for everyone here.

I am deeply disturbed by the debate that has been occurring over the retired mascot and the possibility of a new one. While many people feel as though the symbol of Illiniwek was honorable, it was also a painful icon for many people on this campus. Most of the columns I’ve read don’t take the copious amounts of pain into consideration. Is that something that we want to represent our school? Should it continue to plague our college experience? Most of the columns I’ve read have also been folks from our university stating that there is no possibility of finding a symbol that accurately represents our university and the people in it. I’m left to wonder how much those people actually believe in the students of this university.

The conversation always goes back to the same place: we don’t need a large, goofy-looking animal or some other creature walking our sidelines. And while I agree with that, thinking that this costume wearing mascot is our only decision is confining and close-minded. There are 40,000 students on this campus, some of whom I’m sure are creative, that could possibly brainstorm some idea that is neither embarrassing nor offensive and I have the faith that it can and will happen.

At a time when our students seem to be ultimately disconnected from a university that is going through difficulties on several fronts, perhaps this is one way that students can throw themselves into defining the university how they want it to be defined while still respecting every student on campus.

The chief had been at the University for 80 years — a long time, no doubt. However, the controversy surrounding the chief has been around a long time, too. Don’t we think it’s time for that to end? Shouldn’t we all dust ourselves off and move forward with grace and dignity rather than fumbling around with the same argument for years? And if not now, when?

Kaytlin Reedy,

senior in LAS

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