U of I Students Back Illiniwek in Campus Vote

Nearly 80 percent of students in campus referendum want Chief back as mascot

Thursday, Mar 14, 2013  |  Updated 4:11 PM CDT
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U of I Students Back Illiniwek in Campus Vote

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Controversial symbol "Chief Illiniwek" of the University of Illinois performs during the half-time show of a game between Illinois and Michigan at Memorial Stadium October 16, 2004 in Champaign.

He may not be coming back, but it is clear Chief Illiniwek still has strong support among University of Illinois students.

Almost 80 percent of the more than 11,500 students who voted in a recent campus referendum said they believed the American Indian mascot should be the symbol of the university's Urbana-Champaign campus.

The ballot results were released Wednesday after a delay caused by a student court review of a related student mascot-design competition, The News-Gazette reported.

The university dropped the Chief mascot in 2007 under pressure from the NCAA. Opponents argued the mascot demeaned American Indians. Supporters maintain Illiniwek is a respectful symbol.

University leaders have said the Chief mascot isn't coming back. The mascot-design competition isn't sanctioned by the university.

The university still plays "Three-in-One," music to which the Chief traditionally danced, and a student wearing a Chief Illiniwek costume sometimes appears in the crowd -- without university approval.

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