After firing its decades-old mascot, Chief Illiniwek, the PC police at the University of Illinois have come after the fan-favorite “War Chant” fight tune.
Claiming the school was working to ensure “campus unity,” Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman recently issued a statement. In which, he both agreed with and lamented the decision to prevent the school band from playing the rousing and popular tune to rev up fans.
Whitman, himself a former Illini football player, said he was sad that the song was coming to an end, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“Today, I understand that my emotions were not shared by many connected to our university,” Whitman said of his sadness that the song would be thrown out of the band’s playlist.
“And as I have spent more time around these issues, my feelings have evolved. For some, Fighting Illini athletics has been a source of division, not unity,” he added in the August 28 statement. “Segments of our university have felt unwelcome at our athletic events. Regardless of whether you agree with these sentiments, at a minimum, we must acknowledge that these feelings matter. How we make people feel matters here at the University of Illinois, where we strive to be a beacon for inclusion in an increasingly polarized world.”
The director said that the decision had been made months ago but had not been announced until now.
Whitman didn’t specifically mention the Native American theme of the song or the history of the school’s athletic department, focusing only on the “divisiveness” of the issue.
“It is our hope that this decision, at this moment, serves as a significant step toward a more unified University of Illinois, where more people have the opportunity to experience the positive emotions that should accompany a seat inside Memorial Stadium, State Farm Center or Huff Hall,” Whitman wrote in the statement.
The latest move to erase the team’s history of celebrating Native Americans in Illinois, comes a decade after team mascot Chief Illiniwek was eliminated from the school’s athletic department.
A former student who performed as “The Chief” denounced the latest politically correct move, saying he was “sickened” by the decision, WQAD reported.
Former Illini student Ivan Dozier told the media he is “Sickened, disgusted, irritated: whatever you want to call it, it’s the University’s fault. The ultimate opinion I have is that I feel disappointment.”
“We’re no longer the ‘University of Illinois,'” Dozier added. “We’re the ‘University that caves to be like everyone else.'”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.