Letter to the editor: Eliminating Africana studies is eliminating SIU’s history


A banner stating “don’t cut Africana Studies” sits outside the Student Center Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017. Students and alumni gathered outside the Student Center to protest the removal of the Africana Studies program from SIU. Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

By Marissa Jackson

Southern Illinois University, home of the Salukis, cannot get rid of Africana studies, for its core spirit culture is based on an African culture.

Have you ever been to the basement of the Student Center, Saluki Stadium or Grinnell Hall? These places feature significant symbols in ancient Egyptian culture, like hieroglyphics, to house student activities and promote student engagement.

We are the home of the Salukis — we hold Africa close to the Saluki spirit of student engagement. Every day the school references an ancient African culture; how can university administration not care if students are knowledgeable of what it means to be a Saluki in the context of the university’s own history?


Salukis are royal and proud, and I certainly would hope SIU is proud of what it represents.

King Tut, a saluki dog, was SIU’s patron mascot for many years, and after his death he was buried like Egyptian royalty under his own pyramid in front of the Saluki Stadium, where many students recognize his importance to this campus.

SIU wants its students to be unified as one, as Salukis, together and strong. Eliminating Africana studies can’t be an actual option to save SIU from sinking. By eliminating it, we would be eliminating the history of our own Saluki culture.

If salukis are just a symbol, then are we any better than the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, which went through changing their mascot because it was disrespectful to the actual culture it represented?

On the other hand, perhaps SIU also values its student population as well, because many have also shown interest in its majors and courses. But it has been reported that advisors are the ones telling students to stay away from a sinking department.  

If Africana studies is sinking, so is our school spirit, and a needed academic unit for SIU. SIU should not take something students want and need.

Let’s take a look at things that we should never consider doing because the value of education at SIU is very important to the administration and students.


SIU should not get rid of the Africana studies department for its value to education and to the university’s core spirit culture. SIU administration should never reject town halls with the chancellor for students to voice concerns of the campus because students pay bills around here and student input is important to the administration. SIU administration should never minimize faculty and student concerns. SIU should never make ANYONE feel unwelcome.

These things should not have happened in our past and should not happen in our future.

SIU is using Egyptian culture to represent what makes us great. WE ARE SALUKI STRONG. We are fighters and we will not give up. But if the university eliminates Africana studies, it has given up on education, students and itself because without Africana, there is no Southern Illinois University, home of the SALUKIS.

Marissa Jackson is a junior studying Africana studies.