It's been 13 years since Chief Illiniwek last got the crowd going at a U or I events. For many though, the memory of Chief Illiniwek will forever be in their mind. Many alumni and students were upset when the school announced plans to retire the Chief, partly because no new mascots were offered to replace him. While an unofficial "Chief" continues to appear at events, an official mascot hasn't been adopted by the student body.

In 2019, "Alma Otter" was placed on a student election ballot but failed to receive a majority vote by less than 300. Some looked at that vote as a sign that the students are ready to move on. Seniors were in the fourth grade when Chief Illiniwek was retired and though his memory lives on for those who grew up rooting for them or had family members attend the school, a lot of the students are ready to move on and welcome a new mascot.

Welcome the belted kingfisher. A native bird to Illinois, with orange and blue coloring, was introduced by senior Spencer Hulsey according to The News Gazette. Reviews have been mixed and some students have been confused if the change in mascot means a change in name. It does not. The belted kingfisher will have its chance to be voted on Wednesday and Thursday by the students.

If the majority vote in favor, it does not mean the bird will become the official mascot right away. The vote is to gauge student support in adding a mascot to the university. Obviously it would make a strong case for the belted kingfisher but there's many more people who would have to agree to the changes.

Should U of I get a new official mascot? Tell us in the comments below.


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