Students hold vigil for Illiniwek

David Shier, freshman in ACES, right, lights candles for participants at the candlelight vigil held by the Students for Chief Illiniwek. The event was held Monday night in front of Foellinger Auditorium. ME Online

David Shier, freshman in ACES, right, lights candles for participants at the candlelight vigil held by the Students for Chief Illiniwek. The event was held Monday night in front of Foellinger Auditorium. ME Online

By Matthew Richardson

Chief Illini-week came to a close Monday night with a candlelight vigil in front of Foellinger Auditorium.

About 40 students stood outside of Foellinger, encircling the word “CHIEF” spelled out on the ice with tea lights inside of plastic cups. The students then listened to Paul Schmitt, sophomore in LAS and vice president external of Students for Chief Illiniwek, speak.

“The fire here … this is supposed to represent the light at the end of the tunnel for us,” Schmitt said during the vigil.

Originally the vigil was supposed to be held in front of the President’s House on Florida Avenue. However, when the organizers of the event discovered that President White would not be at home this evening, they held the event on the steps of Foellinger Auditorium.

“Well, things came up, the weather was kind of bad,” said Allie March, junior in LAS and president of Students for Chief Illiniwek. “And we figured there wouldn’t be too big of a turnout in light of … the whole thing with (Board of Trustees President Lawrence) Eppley and the decision not being official.”

One of the things stressed very strongly by the organizers of the vigil was a feeling of having been cheated by Eppley.

“If (the decision to retire the Chief) was done in a legal way, it was done in a very underhanded way,” Schmitt said. “Blind-sided would be probably a better type of way of describing this.”

The new understanding that the Board of Trustees hasn’t officially retired the Chief, just the Chief dance, gave the event a different tone than planned when the decision was widely believed to be final.

“This was supposed to be the light at the end of the tunnel for the pro-Chief movement,” Schmitt said. “Chief Illiniwek is by no means dead.”