Students rally for Chief

Students participate in a pro-chief rally on the quad sunday night, Feb. 19, 2007. Dan Maloney, current senior chief at Illini

Students participate in a pro-chief rally on the quad sunday night, Feb. 19, 2007. Dan Maloney, current senior chief at Illini

By Patrick Wade

Clad in a Florida State University Seminoles sweatshirt and waving a bag of Big Chief Sugar, Joseph Trevan, a member of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, showed up to support the Chief at the rally on the Quad Monday night.

“(The Chief) is a student symbol,” Trevan said. “It has nothing to do with racism.”

The rally, originally introduced as a Facebook event, drew about 200 students, according to Paul Schmitt, sophomore in LAS and external vice president of Students for Chief Illiniwek, a registered student organization. Most of the supporters came wearing Chief attire and holding “Save the Chief” posters.

Short speeches were offered by Schmitt; Dan Maloney, graduate student and current student portrayer of the Chief; and Tim Schwaegler, freshman in LAS who helped organize the event. Those who attended the rally ended it by singing the “Alma Mater” and chanting “save the Chief.”

Schmitt said he was pleased with the turnout Monday night, especially with how busy this week is.

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“It’s really impressive,” Schmitt said. “It shows that this really is a special tradition for the University.”

Schmitt announced to the crowd that Students for Chief Illiniwek are now attempting to reverse the decision made by the Board of Trustees, including a student referendum which has been rejected by the Student Election Commission but is waiting appeal.

“What we’re doing right now I think is very important,” Schmitt said. “Sticking up for students’ rights and sticking up for the student voice on campus is allowing students to weigh in on what really affects them directly.”

Maloney, who said the Chief has been a “key part” of his life, still expresses hope that the Chief will return next fall.

“There’s still a lot that can be done to show our support for this tradition,” Maloney said. “There’s still, more importantly, a lot of avenues that can be explored.”

Online, this Facebook event describes a week of activities in support of the Chief. For Wednesday, it asks supporters to change into black when the Chief leaves the court after halftime of the men’s basketball game.

Also, they want to change into black during halftime of the women’s basketball game Thursday.

On Feb. 26, a candlelight vigil is scheduled outside of the president’s mansion to sing the “Alma Mater.”

Schwaegler said he believes the Chief is still a very important part of the University’s everyday life, and he does not believe supporters will give up easily.

“We’re still going to carry the Chief in our hearts, regardless of whether or not he stands,” Schwaegler said. “We’re going to fight until the last day, and we’re going to fight after that.”