Students For a NEW Mascot, a new registered student organization on the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana campus, is gaining traction and attention. It's important to note that these students are not concerned with the retired “Chief Illiniwek” mascot that has been the subject of so much controversy in the past. The Students For a New Mascot are moving beyond the Chief; their goal is to fill the void of a lack of an official mascot.
The group has begun to solicit artistic submissions from the campus and surrounding Champaign-Urbana community. Artistic submissions will be screened for compliance with NCAA guidelines by members of the group, and the top 5 posted on a dedicated website for anyone to vote for via an online ballot. The group will then petition the University of Illinois administration to officially adopt the new mascot.
What's interesting is this group doesn't seem to in total agreement with the school that the Chief mascot was, at best, thoughtless, and at worst, racist.
"Although some of us feel the past "Chief Illiniwek" mascot was appropriate and respectful, and some of us do not; we all agree that a new mascot would be a positive move forward. Additionally, we feel the loss of income for the University of Illinois due to lack of a popular mascot is especially problematic in the current economic climate," the group states on their website.
“The NCAA has banned the Chief mascot; they are not allowing us to reinstate it. I and everyone else has their opinions on that situation, but what really matters right now is we don’t have a mascot. What better way to get a new one than to empower the students to come up with it?” said the organization president Thomas Ferrarell in a press release.
Their promotional efforts include selling popcorn balls and registering students into the official University of Illinois organization data base at a tent in front of the Illini Union Monday, October 24th through Friday, October 28th. Contest guidelines, entry forms and the web-site address will be made public in the next couple of weeks and the group plans to have all of the submissions in and votes tallied in time to announce the new mascot on Valentine’s Day.
There is little doubt that at this point they'll select a mascot that isn't offensive to millions of American Indians, and instead choose one that does the required job of any mascot: give school spirit a name and a face, just not one that generalizes any person, tribe, or nation.
Perhaps you're a student at University of Champaign-Urbana, Illionis, and you have a mascot idea? If so, here is the contact information for the organizers:
Students for a NEW Mascot - President
Students for a NEW Mascot - Treasurer