Amy Donaldson: 'Utah Man' can stay or go, but altering the lyrics shouldn't be an option
The issue about whether or not “Utah Man” is offensive was lost when the Associated Students of the University of Utah took the action they did Tuesday night.
The ASUU called an emergency meeting less than 24 hours before new leadership took office and voted to override their bylaws in order to send a resolution supporting change to the University of Utah president, according to The Daily Utah Chronicle. The reaction was understandably defensive and angry from those who support leaving the fight song alone.
If there had been dialogue in which everyone felt included and valued, I don’t think there would have been such a negative reaction to the ASUU officers who voted to support it.
Threats of violence against the students, however, were shameful and sad. That reflects more adversely on the U. student body than any song lyrics. It’s also the best way to alienate those who would have otherwise supported you.
The reality is that “Utah Man” was never meant to be a school song. It doesn’t talk about science classes or music programs. It’s a song meant to celebrate the experience of playing football for a beloved school.
Some have argued that the lyrics have been changed before, so why not modernize them again?
Because changing the lyrics is a denial of our history.
Interestingly, one of the offensive lines about how the school’s “coeds are the fairest” is one that replaced the previously offensive lines about steins of beer and big cigars.
Finding the original version is more and more difficult as we continue to revise history.
So let’s stop.
Discuss with students, professors and alumni. Consider all views, all options. And if administrators decide the song is sexist — or even just outdated and silly — choose a new one. I know they’ve tried this before, but at least officially, the U. can send a message that the school is more than a song about a gang of jolly guys willing to mix it up in the MUSS.
If not, look to be more inclusive in much more meaningful and substantial ways. For while only a few will wear the crimson uniform, the University of Utah belongs to all.
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