SBD/August 28, 2017/Colleges

Univ. Of Illinois Ends Use Of "War Chant" As Part Of Effort To Be Culturally Sensitive

Illinois' "war chant" had drawn criticism for stereotyping Native Americans
The Univ. of Illinois' “war chant," a fixture at games that also "drew criticism for stereotyping Native Americans, will no longer be played" during sporting events, the "latest step by the school to eliminate or reduce the use of Native American imagery," according to Julie Wurth of the Champaign NEWS-GAZETTE. Athletic officials "hadn’t publicized the decision, which apparently has been in the works for a year or more." During an appearance on WDWS-AM on Friday, UI Assistant AD/Media Relations Kent Brown said that the chant -- "played for years at Memorial Stadium when football opponents face third-down situations -- was not getting the response from fans that the video board does." Brown added that it has been a "point of concern for campus administrators for years ... going back 'multiple administrations.'" Brown: "If it is a sensitive issue with some of the people on campus and our fans, we want to be inclusive for everyone." In '07, the school "retired Chief Illiniwek, a controversial symbol portrayed by students who danced during halftime of football and basketball games" (Champaign NEWS-GAZETTE, 8/26). In Chicago, Shannon Ryan noted Native American groups "applauded" the school's decision, while "some Illini fans were displeased to see the tradition end." Illinois said that it has "no plans to end the 'Three-in-One' fight song that has been played since the early 1900s." Some students during the song "cross their arms and bow their heads in another act of stereotypical Native American appropriation." Brown said that the "decision to end the chant was a collaborative effort among administrative departments and the athletic department" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 8/26). Brown said that the war chant "made an appearance during a university soccer match Thursday, after students brought a drum into Illinois Soccer Stadium." He added that the students were "asked to stop the chant" (SUNTIMES.com, 8/26).

MAKING THE RIGHT CALL? The TRIBUNE's Ryan wrote Illinois "did the right thing." Ryan: "Now, if only Illinois would rip off the Band-Aid. Stop prolonging a divisive issue by picking at a scab every few years." The school should not "allow students to dress up in mimicking attire to perform as the Chief at games," and they should "end the Three-in-One song" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/27). In Illinois, Loren Tate wrote the school has "clearly mishandled an emotional issue." Tate: "Come on, guys. The three men most involved were unavailable to the media" (Champaign NEWS-GAZETTE, 8/27).
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