The pride within us all

By Audrey Stirneman

The controversy over Chief Illiniwek began the year I graduated from the University of Illinois. I hadn’t checked in, in awhile and was surprised to hear that tonight was the Chief’s last performance. This began an hour of surfing to find out the latest news, not to mention a heated discussion with my husband about the racial implications of the Chief. Our debate strangely reflected the 50-50 split on this issue that I found on the web and as reported around campus.

As I reflected on all my college experiences, I wondered how many other Illini traveled home in their thoughts tonight. I felt a sense of overwhelming pride in our spirit and I was suddenly struck by thought that that spirit and pride we have in our Univeristy doesn’t reside in any symbol, but within all of us. And no matter what symbol we attach to our spirit, whether it is the Chief or something new, it is still just as strong and meaningful.

I am disappointed in the Adminstration, our leaders, to have let this issue remain unresolved for so long. All this time, we could have been having a positive debate on picking a new symbol for our spirit, one that was meaningful to all. Afterall, if the Chief was causing so much discourse, he didn’t represent all Illini in the end.

I urge all those who supported the Chief as I did, to look to the future and focus on what he stood for. Our intentions in using the Chief as our symbol were not meant to hurt anyone and with our strong sense of pride, we can start a new, more positive debate on what symbol we can all rally around.

Audrey Stirneman

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University alumna ’89