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April 16, 2004

Nahnahnah, heyheyhey, Bye Bye Chief

Thanks to This Modern World, I just learned that yesterday students, faculty, and community members at the University of Illinois have taken over the Swanlund Administration Building to protest the school's racist mascot, Chief Illiniwek. More up-to-date information (with pics and movies—this is a high-tech sit-in!) is at the activist's site, Retire the, and one of the activists—a Philosophy graduate employee—is blogging the action. It sounds like they've done exactly what the GEO did two years ago when we took over Swanlund for a day to demand the University recognize the rights of its graduate employees to organize and bargain collectively. The sit-in strategy worked that time; the University agreed to recognize the results of a union election, which the GEO won, and now the union is bargaining for its first contract. (A glacial process, it seems). Here's hoping the Retire the Chief activists are as successful!

UPDATE: It looks like the action was successful; how successful is still unclear. While we wait for the press conference, how about a little taste of UIUC spin? Check out its announcement of why Swanland is closed today:

For the safety of students, faculty, staff and the public, the Swanlund Administration Building is locked today. Campus administrative activities are fully staffed and continuing in alternate locations. For the convenience of the public, offices have been established on the third floor of the Illini Union Bookstore and the Turner Student Services Building. Regular telephone numbers for the relocated offices are being forwarded to the alternate locations.

Um I think that should read:

We can't get into Swanlund today because we refuse to retire a racist mascot. We've got flack-handlers spinning to the press and public on the third floor of the Illini Union Bookstore and Turner Building. Everything is definitely not ok. Thanks for asking.

On a mostly unrelated note: Why doesn't the GEO have a real blog that nicely organizes and archives their news? I designed the current GEO site in about 2001 before I knew what a blog was. They've hacked my design into complete ickiness, and it looks like it's time for a thorough reworking of things. Maybe when he/she gets out of the sit-in, the blogging Philosophy grad could help whip the GEO's site into shape?

Posted April 16, 2004 07:48 AM | general politics

Blogging philosophy grad here. Thanks for the link, keep spreading the word.

Speaking of blogocentric union sites, take a look at

Sanjay was here in Swanland yesterday and got some blog religion watching what I was doing, so your recommendations might be realized in the fairly near term.

Posted by: zwichenzug at April 16, 2004 08:17 AM

It made the Chicago Tribune, too. I read about it this morning.

(Also, I agree about the current ickiness of the GEO site.)

Posted by: raquel at April 16, 2004 09:54 AM

Zwichenzug: You rock. Your coverage of the takeover on The Bellman is riveting! More more more! And of course, may you prevail! Say hi to Sanjay for me. And please explain I was not dissing the GEO website ... ok, I was, but it was meant as constructive criticism and I understand the office staff are overworked and underpaid and have other important things to do. Oh, I bet you're blogging on a Mac, aren't you?;-)

Raquel: Don'tcha wish you were there? Ok, probably not, but...

Posted by: ambimb at April 16, 2004 02:35 PM

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