Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Racism, Power, and Privilege at UIUC

On Thursday of this week (Feb 1st, 2007), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) will host a public forum titled RACISM, POWER, AND PRIVILEGE AT UIUC from 4 to 6:00 at FoellingerAuditorium on campus.

The forum is co-sponsored by the Chancellor's office and S.T.O.P., a coalition of students, staff, faculty, and community members committed to changing the ways in which UIUC's campus is unsafe and unwelcoming to marginalized groups. (S.T.O.P. stands for Students Transforming Oppression and Privilege.)

The forum will begin at 4:00 with statements by the event moderators and a student in the S.T.O.P. coalition. They will be followed by individuals within the American Indian community, including an elder and a parent.

The first portion of the forum is Open Mic, during which anyone can make a statement (two-minute limit) to the administrators on the panel.

The second half of the forum is a Q&A during which moderators will read questions to administrators.

Panelists responding to questions include UI President White, UIUC Chancellor Richard Herman, UIUC Provost Linda Katehi. During the Open Mic, audience can submit questions (on index cards) to ushers who will hand them to moderators.

This forum was set up during fall of 2006 as a result of student protests of the Tacos and Tequila party held in October of 2006. The recent incident on Facebook provides additional evidence regarding the negative climate on campus.
Washington Post article: "Illinois Still on the Offensive"

On Saturday, January 27, 2007, the Washington Post ran a column by Mike Wise. It is an excellent article. Take a look at the article.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Executive Committee of Oglala Sioux Tribal Council Resolution re Lakota Regalia used by "Chief Illiniwek"

January 18, 2007

A press conference to discuss an Oglala Sioux Resolution will be held on Thursday, 1/18/07, at 10:00 AM, in the Conference Room at the Native American House, 1204 W. Nevada Street, Urbana.

January 17, 2007


On January 17, 2007, the Executive Committee of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Nation submitted a resolution to the University of Illinois President and Board of Trustees and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor demanding the return of the Lakota regalia used in the portrayal of the school’s mascot to the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

The official resolution refers to the “theatrics” and “antics” of “chief illiniwek” and notes that the “Oglala Lakota regalia is being misused to represent ‘Chief Illiniwek’” and needs to be returned to the rightful owners of the tribe. The resolution further states that “Chief Illiniwek” not only “perpetuates a degrading racial stereotype,” but violates the integrity of traditional Illinois tribes including the “Kaskaskia, Peroria, Piankeshuw, and Wea nations.”

Moreover, the Resolution by the Oglala Sioux supports the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma “in its request that the University of Illinois recognize the demeaning nature of the characterization of ‘Chief Illiniwek’ and cease use of this mascot.” In 2000, the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma passed a resolution “Request to University of Illinois to Cease Use of Chief llliniwek as Mascot.”

Given the increasing concerns regarding the experiences of racism and oppression facing American Indian nations and communities, the faculty of American Indian Studies (AIS) and the staff at the Native American House (NAH) at the University of Illinois welcome the Resolution of the Executive Committee of the Oglala Sioux Tribe that disapproves of the use of the Lakota Regalia in “Chief Illiniwek” performances and calls for cessation of the mascot.

Further, AIS/NAH faculty and staff call upon the Board of Trustees, President White, and UIUC administration to respond to this resolution with due respect and action. There can be no misreading of the Oglala Sioux Resolution—those to whom the Lakota regalia belongs and whom the Board of Trustees claims to be honoring have clearly requested that the performance and charade of “chief illiniwek” end.

A pdf copy of the resolution is here.


News articles on the resolution:

Chicago Tribune: "Tribe Demands Return of Regalia"

Daily Illini (UIUC's student paper): "Native American tribe demands return of Chief Illiniwek regalia"

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Chancellor Herman's response to threat of violence on Facebook

Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2007 16:25:19 -0600 (CST)
To: All Faculty & All Academic Professionals & All Civil Service Staff &
All Undergrad Students & All Grad Students
From: "Chancellor Richard Herman"
Subject: MASSMAIL - Violent Threats Unacceptable
Reply-To: chancellor@uiuc.edu
X-Massmail-Tag: 20070109162336-018482
X-URL: http://www.cites.uiuc.edu/services/massmail/
X-Proofpoint-Spam-Reason: safe

To Members of the Campus Community:

It was brought to my attention earlier this week that threats of violence against an American Indian student, and hate speech directed at all American Indians, were posted on a pro-Chief Facebook website created by students at the University of Illinois. The idea that the debate over this issue could degenerate to personal attacks that threaten the physical safety and well-being of members of the campus community is something that all of us should find truly abhorrent.

The men and women who built the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign over the past 140 years have worked hard to create a place where ideas could be explored and discussed in a safe and welcoming environment. Actions such as those that were recommended on this Facebook site really are an attack on each member of our community, and that site has now been removed.

I do not know the motives of the students who posted the threats, but I do know that their words are dangerous and racist. The threats have been forwarded to the Office of Student Conflict Resolution for investigation and action. The Student Code guarantees that members of the campus community should be able to discuss issues and express views, but it does not allow speech that threatens to harm other members of the campus community.

As Chancellor, I can not and will not tolerate such violent threats. The University will take all legal and disciplinary actions available in response to the threatening messages.

But far less extreme actions and words can traumatize and frighten those targeted, as well. The right of free speech--no matter how thoughtless, rude or dumb--is a hallmark of the American system. Yet as future leaders and as citizens of our campus community and later as citizens of a nation and world, we must engage in a far deeper dialogue about how we are to agree to disagree. Vigorous debate is good and it is constitutionally protected--but debate should be based on ideas, not empty-headed slurs or vicious threats.

To all members of the campus community I ask that you think seriously about what you can do to help build a campus climate with zero tolerance for racism and hate. Everyone has a role. We should expect nothing less from ourselves. I invite each of you to join us at 4:00 p.m. February 1, 2007 in Foellinger Auditorium for a forum on creating a more welcoming campus environment.

Together, we must find ways to implement our shared values of respect and dignity.

Thank you.

Richard Herman

This mailing approved by:
The Office of the Chancellor

This Message sent via MASSMAIL. < http://www.cites.uiuc.edu/services/massmail/ >

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Below is a press release regarding a Facebook page that calls for violence against American Indians at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Reporters want interviews with people at the Native American House or in American Indian Studies at UIUC.

Please! We've issued many statements on the harm caused by UIUC's mascot.

Rather than ask us for interviews, talk to UIUC's Board of Trustees. Do NOT let them give you the empty statements they've issued for too long already, that they are seeking a compromise. They've been seeking that compromise for at least two years.

And talk to UI's President, B. Joe White. Ask him why, as the president of this institution, he cannot make a statement asking that the BOT retire the mascot.

For Immediate Release

January 8, 2006

Pro-Chief Students Issue Call for Racism and Violence against American Indians at University of Illinois

As concerned citizens of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and as faculty in the university's American Indian Studies Program and staff at the Native American House, we wish to call attention to a recent incident of university students explicitly advocating racist violence against American Indians in general and against one American Indian student in particular.

We call on the university leadership and the university community to express public and unequivocal outrage at this incident. We also call on the university authorities to initiate disciplinary proceedings.

Student behavior of this kind directly violates the University Student Code, section 1-302 parts a 2, d 3, f, g, o 4, and o 5. For the Rules of Conduct in the University Student Code, see http://www.admin.uiuc.edu/policy/code/article_1/a1_1-302.html. Student behavior of this kind also violates the university's publicly stated policy on acts of intolerance (http://www.odos.uiuc.edu/stophate/intro.asp).

On Facebook, the popular student-centered social web forum, a University of Illinois student has begun a group called "If They Get Rid of the Chief I'm Becoming a Racist." The group's web site can be viewed at this Facebook address: http://uillinois.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2216973206, though it is likely that Facebook authorities will soon remove the site, because it violates Facebook policies. One hundred and ten University of Illinois students have joined this group.

Two students have posted inflammatory messages on the group's web site. These messages are available to any web user who registers with Facebook, which includes most University of Illinois students and many other people across the campus community and across the national and world-wide network of Facebook users.

On November 20, 2006, a University of Illinois student posted the following explicitly racist words that call for the death of Indian people, which of course includes the Indian people who are members of the University of Illinois community: "what they don't realize is that there was never a racist problem before..but now i hate redskins and hope all those drunk, casino owning bums die." On December 2, 2006, another student wrote the following explicit threat, a call for violence directed at a specific University of Illinois student: "that's the worst part! apparently the leader of this movement is of Sioux descent. Which means what, you ask? the Sioux indians are the ones that killed off the Illini indians, so she's just trying to finish what her ancestors started. I say we throw a tomohawk into her face."

No university can continue to function normally when its students explicitly and publicly threaten and call for violence against other students. Such a call would not be tolerated if it were made against another racial group. No university community or leadership can tolerate such actions. We, the American Indian Studies faculty and Native American House staff of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, call on the university community and leadership to condemn these actions publicly and vociferously.