UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Twenty four hours after the senate vote, and the U of I is still discussing Chief Illiniwek.
“Someday, we’re going to put this behind us and, when we do, we’re going to ask why it took us so long.” Professor Nick Burbules said that 30-years ago when he was in the UI senate. Little did he know he’d still be in the middle of the conversation today.
At a UI senate meeting, Professor Jay Rosenstein presented a resolution asking for equal enforcement of the State Farm Center’s no protest policy. “The appearance of an unauthorized Chief Illiniwek, in full regalia doing his routine, is an act of protest against the university’s removal of the Chief.”
He showed pictures he says he’s captured for more than a year; one the outside of a bathroom. “Here is Mr. Dozier, changing out of his uniform while there are two university police next to him.”
Opinions are strong on both sides of the argument, but Professor Burbules says he wanted to get to the core of the issue. “I literally wrote it down on a piece of paper, took it up to the desk and said, I have a substitute.'”
His new plan is to enforce free speech. “The advocates were saying, ‘If we don’t get free speech to criticize the Chief, then you don’t get free speech to support the Chief,’ and that’s the wrong policy.”
He says Rosenstein’s resolution wasn’t the right move. He says taking away the ability to protest could have further consequences. “Jay, and advocates for this resolution, are saying we want to apply this rule to pro-Chief protestors, but once you establish the legitimacy to the rule and say we should apply it more consistently or more widely, how many other cases, besides the Chief, would get swept up under the bad rule? It’s an issue about free speech again, but how protest gets defined and who gets to exercise the rights of protest.”