Faculty Statement on Chief Illiniwek

In the 5/10/00 faculty meeting, Betsy Hearne presented a resolution indicating the faculty's stance against retaining Chief Illiniwek and proposed it be sent to the Board of Trustees, the Daily Illini, the Provost, the group collecting such information and also to be placed on the School's webpage. There was a motion for faculty to adopt the resolution as amended. It was voted to approve the resolution statement, with fifteen approving votes and one abstaining vote. A motion was made to sign the resolution "by vote of the faculty of the School as voted on May 10, 2000." The motion was unanimously approved.

It has become increasingly clear that the continuing use of the Chief Illiniwek symbol directly hinders each aspect of the School's mission.

Teaching: The use of the Chief Illiniwek symbol interferes with our primary educational mission in many ways. Not only has it made it difficult to recruit Native American students or to work with Native American communities, the continued use of a symbol now widely seen as racist creates a chilling atmosphere for all students who for whatever reason do not see themselves as in the mainstream. Such an atmosphere is not conducive to learning. Moreover, it directly contradicts much of the content of our teaching, especially when addressing the importance of providing accurate information, adopting a service perspective on providing information, and challenging stereotypes in literature.

Research: Our research in library and information science is also negatively affected. In formulating criteria for evaluating information in books, electronic media, and other sources, we stress the importance of accuracy, which is directly contradicted by the stereotypical representation of Native Americans embodied in the Chief. Moreover, we have already seen numerous professional societies declaring our campus off limits for professional meetings. Colleagues throughout the world are aware of the Chief controversy and ask us when will the University catch up with other great institutions of learning. The controversy itself drains energy that could be much better applied to substantive research.

Service: In the area of service the Chief symbol belies our professed concerns about equal access and a service orientation to information providing. How can we provide leadership to library and information professionals on strategies for serving diverse populations or looking beyond stereotypes of library user groups when our own campus promotes stereotypes of a minority population? And what answer can we give when someone asks why we choose to represent people who have repeatedly expressed their opposition to the unwanted appropriation of their culture?