Letter: Candidates on the Chief

By The Daily Illini

Regardless of one’s position on Chief Illiniwek, I think it is important that the University community know where our candidates for state representative stand on the issue. At a recent debate, each was given the opportunity to explain his or her position.

Thomas Mackaman said he was in favor of retiring the Chief. I respect his opinion, but in a district that consists largely of the University, it is imperative that our state representative accurately represents the majority of students. In March 2004, we held a campus-wide referendum in which 70 percent of the students voted to keep Chief Illiniwek as the symbol of our University.

Naomi Jakobsson did not take a stance on the issue. She said that it was “not a legislative issue.” I’m not sure where she was last spring during the University budget appropriations, but when state Senate President Emil Jones threatened to cut University funding because of the Chief, it became a legislative issue. For her to now claim that it is “not a legislative issue” leaves her in the awkward position of being either “blissfully ignorant” of the true legislative climate or too cowardly to put forth her true position on the Chief.

This leaves only one candidate: Deb Feinen. Feinen told the audience that she supports the Chief because that is what the students voted for last spring. I applaud Feinen for accurately representing the student position.

I applaud the candidates who had the courage of their convictions to make their views known: Mackaman against the Chief and Feinen for the Chief. It is too bad that Jakobsson wouldn’t answer the question.

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Nick Klitzing

president, Students for Chief Illiniwek