Letter: BOT drags feet

I was really hoping that by the time I graduated this May, Chief Illiniwek would have been done away with, and some classes on American Indians would have taken its place to show the rest of the country that we, too, live in the 21st century. The passage of the recent Board of Trustees resolution acknowledging universal support for preserving the public display of “American Indian heritage,” through some sort of consensus, has made it clear that change is not coming anytime soon. University President James Stukel came right out and said that the BOT’s decision represents a move away from the University’s previous mission to “honor” American Indians. Could the BOT have finally realized an ethnic group deserves to be represented in a way that it sees fit – that if virtually all American Indian groups across the country disagree with the use of American Indian mascots, the University is only dishonoring them?

The new resolution is devoid of substance; it proposes nothing, changes nothing and provides no framework for further action. I’m already tired of hearing nothing said over and over again, in many different ways, using lots and lots of words. The BOT cannot hide behind some elusive “consensus” – it’s one way or the other.

Progress is not always comfortable, and it often doesn’t come as the result of a consensus. But it’s time for the BOT to stop dragging its feet and do what’s right. No matter what other ways the University decides to respect American Indian heritage, as long as a non-American Indian dances around Memorial Stadium in paint and feathers, the University will not have lived up to its promises to knowledge, progress and diversity. Come on, BOT, it’s not too late for you to do the right thing.

Jessica Schreiber

senior in LAS