The Mascot Gets the Pink Slip

And now some fresh pickings from the wartime grapevine.

Student leaders at the University of Illinois have voted to retire the school's longtime mascot, Chief Illiniwek. The Chicago Tribune reports that the Illinois Student Government at the Urbana-Champaign campus voted 14 to five to shelve the university's controversial symbol. In a statement, the student organization said the Chief has become a source of division and that as long as he symbolizes the University of Illinois, "Native American students will continue to be improperly represented." Chief Illiniwek is typically portrayed by a student who paints his face, wears a headdress representing the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe and dances at football and basketball games. University trustees could vote on the matter this summer.

Meanwhile, a committee at Harvard University is proposing that faculty limit the number of students who graduate with honors — so the distinction might mean something.  The Boston Globe reports that last June, 91 percent of Harvard seniors received honors — a much higher rate than at other Ivy League schools. The committee's proposal calls for no more than 50 percent of Harvard seniors graduate with honors in their major. It's part of an attempt by Harvard President Lawrence Summers to stop so-called "honors inflation." 50 percent?!

A federal judge in Chattanooga, Tenn., has ruled that Hamilton County commissioners violated the separation of church and state last year by ordering displays of the Ten Commandments. The judge ordered the county to haul down two of the three displays. He wrote that people don't need the government's help to "heed the precepts of the Ten Commandments."

Finally, a judge in Washington state has ordered a 35-year-old woman to pose nude for photos. Prosecutors want to use the photos as evidence in a case against the woman. Authorities allege Dewanna Granberg had sex with a 14-year-old boy who worked at her bowling alley. The young man has helpfully described the woman's body to authorities. Now, gendarmes want to verify the account. So local police served a warrant on Granberg, ordering her to get naked. She refused. Now, a Grays Harbor County Superior Court judge says she should disrobe and pose because the photos could provide "fruitful evidence." The judge did specify — presumably in the interests of privacy and good taste — that Granberg's face not appear in the pictures, and that the photos go only to prosecutors and Granberg's defense team.