Amid complaints and worries that its fight song might just be a bit too sexist for 2014 standards, the University of Utah has altered the best known line in its fight song. Now, fans can choose between two versions: the classical one and the contemporary updated one. The update did not change the line “I’m a Utah man” to “I’m a Utah fan”. Now, the lyrics of the fight song simply exist in both versions and singers can choose between the two. However, one line has been completely eliminated – and that is the now non-existent “coeds are the fairest”.
The changes were announced by the University President, David Pershing, who delivered a prepared statement before the media. The lyrics were amended by a panel comprising students, officials of the school, faculty, and graduates. According to Barbara Snyder, the chairperson of the panel in charge with modifying the lyrics, as well as the university’s vice president for student affairs, the point of changing the lyrics was to keep on honoring the heritage and history of the university. However, the University of Utah also wants to “be an institution that’s very inclusive in our community, so that everybody can feel comfortable singing the lyrics”.
Making the change in lyrics happen, however, was not an effort that unfurled without controversy and debates. The changes were first suggested on campus earlier in 2014. The Associated Students came up with the idea and argued that it was high time to bring the lyrics of the song up to date. They also received the support of the Academic Senate of the faculty, but were met with dissent from alumni and other individuals. Those who opposed the change in lyrics argued that they liked the old ones just fine.
David Pershing launched a call for proposals on how to modify the lyrics, which was open until May 31. Pershing, who graduated this year, had his inbox literally flooded with hundreds of proposals. Instead of “our coeds are the fairest”, the lyrics now read “our students are the finest”. Also, instead of saying “no other gang of college men”, the lyrics read “no rival band of college fans”.
The 2014 change is not the first one brought to the University’s anthem. The initial, 1904 version also included the lyrics “We drink our stein of lager and we smoke our big cigars”, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. This part of the lyrics was replaced with the coed reference, which is explicable through the fact that it took 50 years of the university’s existence for it to be massively attended by women.