Student leaders propose rewrite of fight song 'Utah Man'

Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:04pm EDT
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By Jennifer Dobner

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - Student leaders at the University of Utah, the flagship public campus in the conservative state, are pressing to change the school's century-old fight song "Utah Man," saying it needs to be more inclusive of women and minorities.

Written in 1904, the song includes phrases and language that could be considered sexist or racist, including the line "our coeds are the fairest," outgoing student body president Sam Ortiz, who is leading the push, said on Wednesday.

Student officers at the Salt Lake City school passed a resolution on Tuesday asking for an update of the lyrics.

"I don't necessarily believe the intention was to be discriminatory, but I do believe that at the time that song was written, our society was far more exclusive," Ortiz said. "That was the reality of the era."

Among suggested changes were to remove the reference to the "fairest" coeds, which Ortiz said could be insensitive to women and students of color, replacing it with the phrase "our students are the brightest." He also suggested changing the song's title, "Utah Man," to "Utah Fan."

Opponents of the change cite discomfort with altering a long-held tradition. More than 2,700 have joined a "Utah man am I" page on Facebook, and a sports radio program has planned a campus opposition rally for Thursday.

"Some traditions should be set aside like flying the Confederate flag, but I and many students and alumni proudly sing, "I am a Utah man, sir," said 1971 graduate Karen Crompton.

Historically, many U.S. universities have changed nicknames or fight songs for reasons including racial sensitivity or because terms had become outdated.   Continued...