On Feb. 14, NEIU’s Instagram account posted a Valentine’s Day message that some deemed racially insensitive. The message portrayed NEIU school mascot, Goldie the Golden Eagle, with a caption that read “so heartsick over you I’m…ill-eagle.”
Many in the university community believe the post to be in poor taste. One staff member, who requested anonymity, criticized the social media oversight: “There are any number of puns that could have been used,” they said. “I love you so much, it should be ill-eagle.”
A recent graduate of the university expressed to the Independent, “Seems a little racist. The administration or the illustrator is dropping the ball immensely. Please address this with President Gibson.”
NEIU did not disclose who was responsible for the post. However, President Gloria J. Gibson stated in a campuswide email, “The entire Division of Marketing and Communications will complete Undocumented Student Ally Training on Feb. 28 and subsequent diversity training.”
Gibson urged the student body to participate in the Campus Climate Assessment on Feb. 25. The explanation of the assessment provided by NEIU stated, “As part of its efforts to embrace a culture of inclusion, Northeastern Illinois University will conduct a campus climate assessment to evaluate its living, learning and working environment. The assessment will allow NEIU to improve its campus climate by addressing the challenges and seizing the opportunities identified in the assessment. Approved by the Board of Trustees, Office of the President, Division of Academic Affairs, Division of Student Affairs and Office of Procurement, the NEIU climate study is now a reality.” The survey will consist of sections for additional comments, designed to air grievances and allow respondents to articulate possible solutions to various issues.
The social media blunder appears odd to many because the school is well-known to advocate for a strong Hispanic community. According to a 2017 Latino Leaders magazine, 34% of NEIU’s student body is Hispanic. NEIU identifies itself as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) which means an eligible institution of higher learning serving a greater than 25% Hispanic student body. It is also recognized as such by both the U.S. Department of Education Title V and the Hispanic Associations of Colleges & Universities (HACU). Additionally, the university boasts a campus specializing in educating ESL students in surrounding Hispanic communities. El Centro de Recursos Educativos (Center for Educational Services) completed its final construction and expansion project in 2004. Given that Hispanics are represented not only in the student body, but in the very architecture, many found the error perplexing.
Share your thoughts with the Independent on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @neiuindienews.