A failed symbol

By Tom Arvanitis

I, like a lot students at the UI, am not pro-chief or anti-chief. In terms of racist mascots, the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians are lengths ahead of our recently removed Illiniwek. However, I will say this: as a mascot, the chief really wasn’t working.

The Chief logo used to be everywhere on campus. At football games he was a giant symbol of the school on the fifty yard line, and his face was actually sold on t-shirts and merchandise. I have heard the arguments about tradition. However, if you haven’t noticed already Illini, the Chief has been systematically removed from the University for some time.

One of the essential reasons to have a mascot, a symbol that students and supporters can rally behind and actually have fun with, has been lost as well. It’s clear to me when I talk to pro-Chief supporters that there isn’t anything about the actual Chief that they love that much. Instead, they tell me its tradition, and start asking me why I think its racist!

People like to take sides on issues and get mad at others for not understanding their viewpoints. I hear arguments both for the Chief and against him and I really don’t care for either. Meanwhile, while everyone’s been arguing with one another, we have lost all sense of school unity- something a mascot is supposed to harvest and not take away from! Sorry to say it, but when a mascot has practically been replaced by the letter “I”, and no one even seems to enjoy it anymore (pro or against), its time for that mascot to go, whether or not it actually is racist or a time-honored tradition.

Tom Arvanitis

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    University Alumnus ’06