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University of Utah tweaks fight song called sexist

July 2, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The University of Utah has tweaked its official fight song, offering an alternate choice for its signature line while replacing others altogether amid concerns the former version was sexist.

The new version doesn’t officially change the lyrics from “I’m a Utah man” to “I’m a Utah fan.” Instead, it lists both; singers can choose their preference.

But the line “coeds are the fairest” is officially out.

University President David Pershing announced the changes Wednesday in a prepared statement. A panel of students, school officials, employees, and alumni was tasked with reworking the anthem.

“We want to honor and preserve our history,” said, Barbara Snyder, the task force chair and university vice president for student affairs. “But we also want to be an institution that’s very inclusive in our community, so that everybody can feel comfortable singing the lyrics.”

The proposed tweaks spiked emotions on campus earlier this year, with the Associated Students saying it was time to bring the words up to date. The faculty’s Academic Senate also threw its support behind revising the anthem.

But alumni and others contended that they liked the old lyrics chanted in the stands at football games and other events.

Pershing asked students, faculty staff and alumni to suggest new lyrics through May 31. Hundreds of emails regarding the fight song flowed into Pershing’s inbox before gradation this year, he said.

The new song replaces “our coeds are the fairest” with “our students are the finest.” It also transforms “no other gang of college men” into “no rival band of college fans.”

University officials stress that fans may still choose to sing the former version.

This is not the first time the school has reworked the song.

The 1904 version boasted, “We drink our stein of lager and we smoke our big cigars,” The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Officials later replaced that part with the one referencing coeds.

University alumni also floated changes to the song in recent decades, but the efforts stalled amid opposition.

The university’s policy never explicitly excluded women, but female students didn’t enroll in significant numbers until after the turn of the 20th century, about 50 years after it opened.

Other colleges and universities have made similar adjustments.

In 2004, three decades after first admitting women, the U.S. Naval Academy replaced such references as “sailor men” in its fight song, with “sailors” amid criticism that the lyrics excluded women from the school’s heritage.

At New Mexico State University, alumni in 2003 asked the school to rethink boozy references in its fight song that includes the line, “And when we win this game we’ll buy a keg of booze and drink it to the Aggies ’til we wobble in our shoes.”

Some in the group chanted a proposed new version at a football game but dropped the effort after fans booed the watered-down lyrics.


Follow Annie Knox at https://twitter.com/anniebknox.

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