Herman directs Homecoming committee to cancel float policy

By Bridget Maiellaro

Chancellor Richard Herman has directed the Homecoming committee to cancel an existing policy that prohibits students from using the Chief Illiniwek logo when participating in Friday’s parade from the Homecoming parade float guidelines, according to a statement released this morning by the University News Bureau.

“The floats and the people on them are representations of personal points of view,” said Robin Kaler, University spokesperson. “Just as we don’t prohibit people from wearing their Chief apparel to work, we won’t prohibit those in the parade from expressing their points of view.”

The organizers of the parade established the policy in August after asking for input from University administration. Their intention was to uphold the University Board of Trustees’ decision to retire Chief Illiniwek and other Native American imagery as symbols of the University’s athletic programs at its February 2007 meeting.

Chief Illiniwek was never mentioned on homecoming registration forms in the past, but with the retirement of the Chief, Jillian Kachel, senior in AHS and parade co-chair, said the Homecoming committee requested advice from the administration.

Originally the Chief was just banned from appearing on the actual homecoming floats but the policy was expanded to include anything that portrayed the Chief, she said.

Herman determined that the policy was too broad when reviewing it Wednesday. Kaler said that he feels very strongly about free speech and free expression.

“The University values free speech and free expression and considers Homecoming floats, decorations, costumes and related signage all representations of such personal expression,” according to the statement.

While Kachel said she supports the right to free speech, she is still frustrated that a day before the parade, floats with Chief imagery had already been changed or even pulled from the lineup in order to adhere to the ban.

“Floats use the Chief every year,” she said. “I feel bad knowing how long it takes to make one.”

There wasn’t any uproar over the ban until an article about the parade was printed in The Daily Illini, Kachel said. The article detailed the parade route and also addressed the new restrictions.

Kachel said that her frustration stems from the fact that the administration made the original decision to ban the Chief symbol and has lifted its own ban.

“It frustrates me the most,” she said. “Registration forms were up for a little over a month with no complaint.”

Martha Spalding contributed to this report