One of my friends pointed me to this shirt produced by students at the university of Illinois for their “unofficial st. patricks day” that is currently being sold through Facebook. The t-shirt text reads:
(front) Unofficial St. Patricks Day 2010
(back) Chief Illiniwek: U of I’s Unofficial mascot is far from dead…he is just passed the f**k out
In quick background, the University of Illinois finally voted to oust their Indian mascot in 2007 after years of struggle, and it continues to be an ongoing fight for Native students and their supporters on campus. The whole controversy can be read about here.
This is what “The Chief” looked like, all dressed up in his “authentic” Indian garb:
and this was the official university symbol:
There are so many campus incidences surrounding the student production of t-shirts for events–I know Stanford has had many issues, as well as Dartmouth, and now U of I. I feel like there needs to be an extension of existing hate crime or hate speech rules on campuses to these types of incidents, because often the university administration just seems to throw up their hands and say “there’s nothing we can do.” I think the Stanford fraternity that produced big game shirts featuring the Indian a few years ago was just asked to meet with Native students and administrators, and eventually they apologized and didn’t use the shirts, but they were not threatened with any negative consequences to make them do so.
I would vote that in these university environments that purport to be promoting and fostering diversity and understanding, there must be consequences.
Original post on American Indian Studies Circle blog: http://aiscircle.wordpress.com/2010/03/02/i-was-stunned-appalling-unofficial-t-shirts-and-the-mascot-controversy/
Chief Illinewek controversy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chief_Illiniwek#Controversy
Info on the “unofficial” st. pattys day tradition: http://www.uofiparentprograms.illinois.edu/feature%20stories/Unofficial_UIPD09.htm