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Illinois Student Government boycotts Homecoming Parade over Chief

A+student+sits+in+on+the+Illinois+Student+Government+meeting+in+the+Illini+Union+Pine+Room+on+Wednesday%2C+Oct.+25.+The+Chief+will+make+an+appearance+in+the+Homecoming+Parade%2C+so+Illinois+Student+Government+is+boycotting+the+parade+in+support+of+Native+American+students.
A student sits in on the Illinois Student Government meeting in the Illini Union Pine Room on Wednesday, Oct. 25. The Chief will make an appearance in the Homecoming Parade, so Illinois Student Government is boycotting the parade in support of Native American students.

A student sits in on the Illinois Student Government meeting in the Illini Union Pine Room on Wednesday, Oct. 25. The Chief will make an appearance in the Homecoming Parade, so Illinois Student Government is boycotting the parade in support of Native American students.

Adam Zhang

Adam Zhang

A student sits in on the Illinois Student Government meeting in the Illini Union Pine Room on Wednesday, Oct. 25. The Chief will make an appearance in the Homecoming Parade, so Illinois Student Government is boycotting the parade in support of Native American students.

By Cori Lippert, Staff Writer

Illinois Student Government will not participate in this weekend’s Homecoming Parade in support of Native American students.

“Even though there are only a few Native American students here on our campus, they are students like any of you,” said Dr. Gioconda Guerra Pérez, interim director for the Native American house.

Pérez said the Native American students have been advocating for themselves for a long time, and that the Chief is an issue involving one of the most vulnerable groups on campus.

“It has been very difficult for them to be here and learn the history of previous Native Americans in this land who were relocated to other places — they were removed — so now we enjoy this prestigious institution,” Pérez said.

Pérez said that she did not attend the meeting to tell the Illinois Student Government what to do, but she is here to speak about the struggles of the Native American students on campus.

Raneem Shamseldin, president of ISG and senior in Business, encouraged reporting the Chief’s presence in the parade as an act of intolerance.

Shamseldin said that the parade has been rerouted and will no longer end in front of the Native American house. She sent a letter to the administration speaking out against the Chief being in the parade.

ISG came together in a committee, chaired by Annalisa Roncone, senior in LAS, to decide what they will do in response to the Chief being in the Homecoming Parade.

ISG discussed whether or not they should participate in the parade if the Chief is going to be present in the parade.

“I think it is inappropriate for this body to participate in any official way in an event that normalizes bigotry or encourages the misappropriation,” said Sully Peterson-Quinn, senior in FAA.

Peterson-Quinn said he wants to encourage other students and faculty to boycott the parade if the Chief remains in the parade.

Some senators felt that boycotting the parade was not enough.

Tara Chattoraj, senior in LAS, suggested ISG have an alternative parade on the Main Quad and ask other RSOs to join, allowing ISG to stay involved in the Homecoming celebrations.

“Every single time I see that Chief, every single time I am reminded about how my culture, and how my people were almost eradicated and for me that is a very hard thing to remember.”

Natalie O’Callaghan, junior in Education, suggested ISG continue to march in the Homecoming Parade.

“I just think if we were still able to participate in something that a lot of people are already going to be at then it would be more effective at spreading our message,” O’Callaghan said.

David Alston, sophomore in Business, said, “I am fully in support of (boycotting). Regardless of the amount of work I put into the parade, some things are far more important.”

Alston and his team put in work in planning the ISG’s involvement in the parade and packing bags for the event.

Lauren Kirby, junior in LAS, said, “as a Native student here on campus, I see things every single day that I am not comfortable with.”

Kirby said she is very frustrated with the University. The Chief was banned in 2007 and yet she still sees the Chief every single day.

“Every single time I see that Chief, every single time I am reminded about how my culture, and how my people were almost eradicated and for me that is a very hard thing to remember,” she said.

Kirby wants to prove the people wrong who don’t see anything wrong with non Native Americans dressing up as Native Americans and dancing around.

“My culture, my people were almost taken away from me and yet you people want to celebrate this non-indigenous culture — this manufactured tradition of this mascot,” she said.

ISG voted in favor of boycotting the parade, and they are encouraging other RSOs to follow suit.  

“Something that is sacred to you, your religion, your culture, your language, your traditions, and somebody tells you how you should honor that, how you should appreciate that, how you should take care of that and that is what is happening,” Kirby said.

Kirby said that the Chief is dehumanizing and she doesn’t believe it is authentic in any way.

“Ever since coming to the University as a student, I have never been to a sporting event because I do not want to see that,” Kirby said. “I do not want to see a non-Native person playing dress up as an Indian, and I do not want to be surrounded by people who glorify that manufactured tradition.”

Kirby believes that if the University were to adopt a new mascot, it would slowly help the school to stop thinking about the Chief.

Alumni Eric Schacht said, “As a kid, I dressed up as the Chief for halloween, and as an undergrad, I was a season ticket holder. I got goose bumps when the Chief came out … and I hate that about myself now.”

“As a kid, I dressed up as the Chief for halloween, and as an undergrad, I was a season ticket holder. I got goose bumps when the Chief came out … and I hate that about myself now.”

Schacht said most schools are putting out public service announcements on what you should not do, and that is the exact opposite of what we are doing.

“They didn’t take the Chief away in 2007 because they realized it was wrong; they took it away because they had to. We have never had an administrative voice say this is wrong (and that) we’re sorry,” Schacht said.

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5 Comments

  • Jeffrey Price

    Who gives a crap what the ISG is or is not going to do? I’ll bet you 9 out of 10 students do not know what the ISG is anyway.

    Get over yourselves!

    • PSL

      You care. You posted about it. You’re mad. It’s funny.

      Proud of ISG, btw.

      • Jeffrey Price

        Sadly, you’re the only one who cares about ISG.

      • Jeffrey Price

        Dear PSL,
        I’m about to spend 10 minutes of my life telling you something, so please take heed.
        I have no interest in and take no delight in trading insults with you or anyone else regarding The Chief. The thing that you all on your side do not seem to realize is that at the core of the supporter feelings is a feeling of pride and achievement that our SYMBOL (not mascot), brings to us. We all worked hard to get into U of I and spent our time here working hard as well. We never harbored ANY feelings towards The Chief other than admiration of the hard work of our predecessors and those who will come after us. We just want our symbol so that we can view it as our fond memory of the time spent at U of I. Those on your side, however, do not even want to discuss such an idea and have resorted to violence to silence our free speech. That is bad for many reasons, but the worst reason is that it will only convince the Chief supporters to use similar tactics in the future, thus making a bad situation even worse. If you want real change to occur, you will need to hear both sides of the story without threats of violence or reprisal. However, if you choose not to listen to the side with which you do not agree, I’m afraid this matter will never be put to rest and discord will only heighten. Please, just take the time to try and understand from where we are coming and do not prejudge us simply because someone you admire told you to do so.

      • roccolore

        Democrats are more outraged over mascots than jihadists.