UI music education faculty voices concern to those who attended “The Next Dance” event

Faculty members in the University’s Music Education Department sent out an e-mail Tuesday to Music Education majors expressing concern for those who participated in “The Next Dance” event.

The e-mail suggested that students shouldn’t participate in events promoting Chief Illiniwek because it is “inappropriate for anyone intending to serve as a music educator.”

The e-mail contained a total of six faculty members who voiced their “extreme disappointment” with the event and emphasized that partaking in this event conflicts with commitments to respect people of all backgrounds.

Furthermore, the e-mail encouraged students to talk with the faculty about ways that they can “honor the musical and cultural lives of people.”

The e-mail acknowledged that students individually have the decision to participate in events.

In an e-mail sent to The Daily Illini from Louis Bergonzi, professor in the Music Education Department, Bergonzi said he does not want to engage in public conversation with the media regarding the e-mail. He said that he is more interested in having face-to-face dialogue with the students.

Bergonzi e-mailed the students, encouraging them to come in and talk about the issue. The Daily Illini contacted multiple students within the Music Education Department who declined to comment out of fear of retribution from the department.

No other faculty members from the music education department were able to be reached for comment at press time.

“What was sent out is outrageous. They overstepped their jurisdiction and of course they don’t want this to be a dialogue in the press because it will be outright embarrassing to them and the University of Illinois School of Music,” said Ed Jacobi, University alumnus and father of two music students, in an e-mail.

Students for Chief Illiniwek, or SFCI, sent out a press release saying the words contradict the nature of the Chief Illiniwek tradition that is being carried on by the group, the Honor the Chief Society and the Council of Chiefs. The group also claimed in the e-mail that University faculty is using intimidation to stop students from being pro-Chief.

The e-mail from SFCI said this is not the first time that faculty have used intimidation to stop pro-Chief views. It cited that former Illini and SFCI members have received professional and educational threats for their support of the Chief from the Departments of Anthropology and Library Sciences.

Student Body President David Olsen said that he hopes this incident increases dialogue about the Chief and the issue at hand. The full e-mail sent to students by the department can be found online.