The previously withheld Chief Illiniwek referendum results show that a majority of students that voted reaffirmed their support of the mascot.
The referendum question, which asked if students “support Chief Illiniwek as the official symbol” of the University, was met with 9,003 votes in favor and 2,517 against.
The results had been sequestered by the Moot Court Board Judiciary, a board of College of Law students that accepts student complaints. The judiciary lifted the hold prior to hearing an appeal on the constitutionality of Illinois Student Senate enabling a campus symbol selection survey in mid-January. The results of the survey are still being withheld until a decision is made.
Justice Tyler Anthony, graduate student, said student senator Matthew Paarlberg had submitted a motion this week to remove the injunction, but it was denied.
However, Anthony said this motion brought to light a defect in the original injunction; the Campus Student Election Commission was not a part of the appeal, meaning the court did not have the authority to stop it from publishing election results.
Commission chair Adam Joines released the referendum results following the appeal.
The appeal was made by graduate student Josh Good against David Pileski on behalf of the Illinois Student Senate. Each is represented by two College of Law students. Good alleges that the ISS was not within its constitution in supporting student group Campus Spirit Revival’s mascot search, citing previous referenda questions from 2004 and 2008 in which students reaffirmed their support of Chief Illiniwek.
According to article IX of the ISS constitution, the senate is bound by all referenda questions passed by the student body. Pileski contends that these referenda questions are not binding to the senate because they are vague and not self-executing — they were simply a measure of student opinion.
Good said though it’s hard to judge how the judiciary will rule, he feels his counsel has a solid case. Now that the referendum’s results have been released, he said his next step will be to follow this case to its conclusion.
“Now that the students have shown their voice that they do not want a new mascot, and they still hold on to the Chief as their unofficial mascot, the logical next course is to make sure no new mascot is created by either the Illinois Student Senate, Campus Spirit Revival (or) the University,” Good said. “It’s not in the interest of the students, and from what I’ve heard, it’s not in the interest of the alumni.”
Pileski is also confident in his counsel and feels that the senate was within its constitutional right.
“I ultimately feel that the court will go through the process they have to, but I’m very confident we will have a favorable outcome,” Pileski said.
The judiciary is still deliberating on the outcome of the appeal. When asked when a decision can be expected, Anthony said he could not comment.
Tyler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org