University of Utah president invites suggestions on 'Utah Man' fight song lyrics

Published: Tuesday, May 6 2014 1:29 p.m. MDT

University of Utah President David Pershing applauds the students during commencement in Salt Lake City, Thursday, May 2, 2013. Pershing announced on Monday that a committee out of the school's Office of Student Affairs is looking into potential changes to the university fight song.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — University of Utah President David Pershing announced Monday that he has asked a committee to review alternate lyrics for "Utah Man," the school's fight song that some see as sexist and discriminatory.

In a prepared statement, Pershing said the university's student leaders had conducted a "thoughtful and often lively debate," weighting diversity and inclusivity with the importance of tradition.

He said he has asked a committee under the direction of the Office of Student Affairs to recommend possible changes to the song's lyrics, with input from the campus community.

"The history of our fight song, and other cherished customs, has many chapters," Pershing said. "I hope this one will be remembered for cooperation and courtesy."

Student representatives in the Associated Students of the University of Utah voted last month in favor of a resolution urging an update to the song's lyrics.

The debate centered on two phrases in the song, "I am a Utah man" and "Our coeds are the fairest," with "I am a Utah fan" and "Our coeds are the brightest" being suggested as possible alternatives.

The final decision on the song lyrics now goes before Pershing, who said Monday that his office has received "hundreds of emails" on the issue. He said additional comments and suggestions from the public will be accepted until May 31 through the fightsong@utah.edu email address.

He also said the committee will present its recommendations to the administration by the end of June, which suggests a final decision on the fight song could come before classes resume in the fall.

"We appreciate that the U.’s students, dedicated alumni and friends all have strong feelings on this issue," Pershing said. "We are seeking a solution that respects the variety of views across our university community."

Email: benwood@deseretnews.com, Twitter: bjaminwood

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