Indigenous Student Discusses Public Suicide Over Chief Illiniwek Pain
Though the Chief Illiniwek mascot has been banned from the University and Chancellor Phyllis Wise has told ICTMN the mascot would not return, efforts to bring a new mascot to the school have been thwarted and an unofficial Chief Illiniwek still appears at some school games and elementary and middle school tours.
Sandoval also wrote that she had expressed her concerns in an email to her Spanish professor because other students had worn a sweatshirt and sweater with “Chief” on them in her class and felt the display was a violation of her rights as outlined by the university’s policies.
“In this email I articulated to her (Sandoval’s Spanish Professor) that as a student, I had rights that had been outlined by the University that ensured every student would have ‘freedom to learn, free and open expression with limits that do not interfere with the rights of others, respect for the dignity of others, and personal and institutional openness to constructive change.’
I explained to her that as an indigenous student, this image and every likeness to it represented a complete disregard for American Indian culture and spiritual practices, and that every time I saw it, it was not only an emotional stab, but also an impediment to my academic success. In the student handbook in Section 1-302 Rules of Conduct, number 5 states that ‘engaging in behavior which is so persistent, pervasive, or severe as to deny a person’s ability to participate in the University community’ is grounds for discipline, which every likeness to the Chief is to me.”
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