Campus better off without Chief Illiniwek

By Jay Rosenstein

For 17 years, supporters of Chief Illiniwek warned and threatened what would befall the University of Illinois if it got rid of the symbol. But instead of dealing with innuendos, we now have an entire school year to analyze those claims.

They warned that donations to the U of I Foundation would dry up; instead donations have increased, despite a down economy. They warned that attendance would dwindle at football and basketball games; instead, both teams are poised to have a near sold out season. They warned that donations to the athletic department would plummet; instead, the department was able to raise enough money to complete a $100 million stadium remodel. They warned that Native American students and faculty wouldn’t come to the university; instead, the university now has a thriving American Indian Studies program that just welcomed a new director. They warned that applications to attend the University of Illinois would nose-dive; instead, applications continue to flood in.

In short, not a single one of their warnings and threats has come true.

The fact is – and it is irrefutable – in virtually every measurable way, the University of Illinois is better off without Chief Illiniwek today than it was with him.