Contest asks for students to submit new Illini symbol

The Illinois Student Senate is calling for students to submit ideas for a new University symbol to student group Campus Spirit Revival.


“Our mission is to see options students come up with and which of those they like most,” said Thomas Ferrarell, president of the registered student organization Campus Spirit Revival. 

Submissions are due Jan. 27 and voting will take place Jan. 30 to Feb. 1 at The contest winner will receive a $200 prize, and the top five submissions will be presented to the University administration for consideration.

Brock Gebhardt, president of the Illinois Student Senate, said the student senate has been supporitve of Campus Spirit Revival’s initiatives since last year. The student senate sent out a mass mail with information about the contest on Jan. 9.

As of press time, there had been 39 submissions. Entries with the most likes on Facebook include an eagle symbol; a wolf, meant to “pay homage” to Native Americans; a lion, meant to symbolize “Illini pride, power and strength”; and Fighting Abe Lincoln, meant to symbolize “the leadership, courage, and stalwartness” at the University.

Ferrarell said he has been keeping track of student feedback.

“Many students responded that a cartoonish mascot has never been a part of U of I history and shouldn’t be in the future,” Ferrarell said. “That’s being echoed in a lot of the submissions coming in.” 

Three Fighting Abe Lincoln submissions were created by David Kaplinsky, senior in FAA, with the help of Carolina Ibarra, senior in FAA.

“I think Lincoln is a symbol that everyone can get behind,” Kaplinsky said. “I got excited about the idea because I think our University deserves a good symbol in place of what was. I wanted a symbol that shows we strive to be as great as our state’s figures, such as Lincoln.”

University spokeswoman Robin Kaler said in an email that this initiative is dependent on what students and alumni want.

“The creation of most campus traditions, including the Chief, began with individual students whose ideas resonated with others,” Kaler said. “Whether anything comes of this contest will depend on it resonating with others in the Illinois family.”

Kaler said that if the contest results in the creation of feasible ideas, the University may consider furthering the process of choosing a new symbol.

Several people posted on the organization’s Facebook wall that they want the Chief back, the University’s longtime symbol that the NCAA proclaimed “hostile and abusive” and was banned in 2007.

“We’re coming from the standpoint of whether or not you love the Chief, it’s been banned, and we’re trying to move forward from there,” Ferrarell said.

Patrick Hamilton, sophomore in LAS, was angered by the mass email because he thought it ignored the tradition of the Chief.

“I was angry when I got that email,” Hamilton said. “It seemed like the kids in the Campus Spirit Revival didn’t understand the tradition part of the Chief. It’s insulting that they want to replace it.”

Michael Azzarello, junior in Engineering, said he thinks it is time for the University to find a new symbol.

“Given the fact that we probably aren’t going back to the Chief and the legacy is still there, I think it’s okay to have something new to cheer for at the games,” Azzarello said. “I think it’s time to move on.”

Current entries are posted on the Campus Spirit Revival Facebook page at  Ferrarell said email submissions can be sent to

Claire can be reached at

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