‘Chief Illini-week’ may not be so futile

We are now in the middle of “Chief-Illiniweek.” Pro-Chief organizations have planned a week’s worth of events to formally protest the Board of Trustees’ decision to retire Illiniwek. It began Sunday at Assembly Hall, with students changing into black shirts after the Chief performance. It continued Monday with a Quad rally. Another wardrobe change at yesterday’s game capped off “Chief Shirt Day,” and it culminates next Monday with a candlelight vigil at the president’s mansion.

These extremely-hurried actions are coming from a group of people that have been conspicuously silent in the weeks leading up to the retirement. No events in support of Chief Illiniwek were held despite numerous occasions in which anti-Chief activists called for the retirement in recent years.

Yet these reactionary events that were organized on the last hours of the Chief’s tenure came with remarkable cohesion and enthusiasm. The decision was intentionally announced on a Friday to minimize the impact of the decision. Still, by the end of the weekend, Chief supporters had concrete plans.

But why did it take so long for these students to act?

Once the University’s final appeal to the NCAA was denied on April 28, this decision became inevitable. Although it is doubtful that pro-Chief actions would have changed the course of events that followed, it is still hard to fathom why Chief supporters did not come together to make their voices heard to at least guarantee a more fitting end to the Chief.

It is true that the pro-Chief camp had nothing to rally against until Feb. 16 because the Chief remained the symbol of the University.

But if those who came out of the woodwork only this week to voice their disapproval of the retirement had shown how strongly they felt about the issue, then the board might have not been so willing to make such an underhanded decision.

If these events are being used as a way of remembering the controversial symbol, then it is encouraging to see motivated, organized students to fill the void left by the administration because of the promise of such energy and passion being used for other, more pressing issues.

While students hardly exhibit the same fervor over textbook prices, faculty loss or rising tuition, those are issues that affect almost every individual on campus. Since “Chief-Illiniweek” has shown that is indeed possible for a seemingly-immobile student body to fight for its interests, it would be nice to see similar levels of activism carry over for these and other issues as well.

Is there now any reason not to?