The University of Illinois student government is dedicating $5,250 to host its annual “t-shirt buyback” event, in which it buys “outdated and racist” T-shirts featuring the school’s old “Chief” mascot so they are removed from circulation on campus, reported Campus Reform.
In a Facebook post last week, the student body wrote, “Help remove outdated and racist imagery from campus! Exchange your former mascot clothing for brand new, official Illinois merchandise at any of the locations listed, while supplies last.”
Some, though, argued that the logo is “honorable” and not problematic. Among them was Ivan Dozier, of Native descent.
“I find it deeply disturbing that the University of Illinois has seen fit to label any representation of Native culture, authentic or not, as inherently offensive and worthy of censorship,” said Dozier in an interview with Campus Reform. “Other schools like Utah and Florida State work closely with local tribes and honor their imagery and history with pride. Why has Illinois not made any effort towards a similar partnership?”
After complaints from various Native groups and individuals, the school retired the mascot in 2007. Two years before that, the NCAA deemed the mascot offensive and banned the university from hosting postseason events.