It’s time to lay the Chief to rest once and for all

We knew Chief Illiniwek’s appearance at the Assembly Hall this Friday would be controversial. Between the legal battle that almost halted the event last week and the fact that anything Chief-related exacerbates deep-seeded racial tensions, how could it not?

Let’s make it clear that we don’t support the event. We don’t think the Chief, a figure repeatedly named by members of the Native American community as offensive and embarrassing, should ever be reinstated.

But whether you personally choose to support the Chief or protest against his continued presence, it’s still clear that the University needs to move on.

The Chief was retired as an official symbol of the University three years ago, and he is not coming back. Holding these kinds of events is doing nothing more than sinking the University in legal fees it shouldn’t have to afford.

We feel that many students are ready to move on. When The Next Dance was first held in 2008, it attracted 10,000 people. But by just the following year, attendance had dropped to 1,500 – though, such a drastic decrease may have resulted from the administration’s specific efforts to steer the event away from Homecoming Weekend.

Still, it’s time to face reality and realize that the time has come to choose a new mascot to represent our university.

We implore all interested parties, whether for or against the Chief, to start contributing to this conversation instead of arguing over an implausible alternative: dragging the Chief back into it.

The Next Dance is on. But if it’s going to happen, let it be over and done with so we can look toward the future of the University instead of staying stuck in its past.

We understand that finding a new mascot may take time. The University of Mississippi just chose a black bear to replace its former mascot, a confederate figure named “Colonel Reb,” after seven years. It took 17 years for Syracuse University to replace its Native American mascot with “Otto the Orange.”

But regardless of how much time is needed or possibilities for the University’s new mascot — a search committee for which has already been discussed by our faculty and student senates — it’s clear we need to cut ties with the Chief.