Chief referendum draws large amount of support

By Andy Kwalwaser

More than two in three student voters said they supported the reinstatement of Chief Illiniwek, according to results from a referendum on this year’s student elections ballot.

The vote of 7,718 to 2,052, however, is non-binding on the University’s Board of Trustees.

“We are trying to remind the administration that our opinions and views were not accurately represented,” said Roberto Martell, an officer in Students for Chief Illiniwek and sophomore in LAS. “We’re here and we want the Chief, and we won’t stop fighting.”

Martell said the immediate repercussions of the vote were not immediately clear, but he said it showed not all students were satisfied with last year’s decision to abandon the symbol.

“My club felt like this question had to be presented,” Martell said.

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Refundable fees for a new study abroad scholarship and cultural programming also passed on the referendum. The study abroad measure passed by a vote of 6,347 to 2,992.

The $5 study abroad fee will raise an estimated $300,000 for scholarships, said Erin Frommeyer, study abroad student advisory committee chair and senior in AHS.

“Study abroad should be available and affordable to every student out there,” Frommeyer said.

“Just because a scholarship is merit-based doesn’t mean it’s going to someone who doesn’t need it.”

Frommeyer said the funds will create between 40 to 50 new scholarships per semester.

The money will be divided equally into need-based and merit-based scholarships, as well as scholarships for underrepresented students and students who study in nontraditional locations, Frommeyer said.

A $2 semester fee for cultural programming was re-approved by a vote of 6,152 to 3,133.

“There are programs that have been done on campus that students would have had no way of putting on (without the fee),” said Assistant Dean of Students Cathy Acevedo.

Acevedo said she expects the fee to raise around $100,000 for African-American, Asian-American, Latino and Native American cultural programming.

The fee was up for referendum for the first time since its 2004 inception.