What the Chief means

By Michael S. Casey

I think it’s ridiculous people can even begin to think of the Chief as hostile and abusive. I’m sure a lot of you read that and just said: “He has no right to decide that.” But I think I have every right to because I’m part of what the Chief represents: the University of Illinois. That fact is something that has gotten lost in the mix in the argument. The Chief isn’t a mascot. He doesn’t travel with the teams and he doesn’t stand on the sideline cheering through the whole game. The Chief comes out at half time and performs the traditional dance. I call it traditional because I don’t think anyone has an exact definition of traditional that says it must be around for hundreds of years and so on. The dance is traditional because it has been accepted and adopted by the University for a number of years and hasn’t changed much in those years. I’m willing to accept that the dance isn’t a traditional American Indian dance. But the Chief isn’t a symbol of American Indians. The Chief is a symbol of this great institution. I won’t pretend to speak for everyone else at athletic events, but when I see the Chief I really do get a great sense of pride in my school and myself. That’s the purpose of the Chief. The Chief doesn’t spread hate and doesn’t come out and make the crowd want to riot. The Chief is simply meant to instill that same sense of pride in the students that I feel for the University. Am I the only one that can see the Chief for what he is? I think it’s terrible people can be so full of hate that they can see the Chief for what he isn’t.

Michael S. Casey

junior in LAS