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U. student government passes resolution to change fight song

Published: Tuesday, April 22 2014 10:06 p.m. MDT

Student legislators at the University of Utah voted Tuesday to change controversial wording in the school's fight song, Student legislators at the University of Utah voted Tuesday to change controversial wording in the school's fight song, "Utah Man." (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Student legislators at the University of Utah voted Tuesday to change controversial wording in the school's fight song, "Utah Man."

The song, which has been sung at U. sporting events for more than 100 years, has two phrases in question: "I am a Utah man" and "our coeds are the fairest." Possible replacements would be "I am a Utah fan" and "our students are the brightest," according to Associated Students of the University of Utah Assembly member Rachel Ridge.

JR11 passed the two ASUU legislative bodies, with 21 in favor, 15 against and one abstention in the Assembly; and seven in favor, three against and one abstention in the Senate.

Outgoing ASUU President Sam Ortiz said the lyrics have been exclusive and offensive to some students, faculty and staff at the university.

"Traditions are a way to connect generations," Ortiz said. "But I feel this has been divisive. … It's time for change."

Assembly member Alison Boyer said the lyrics have detracted from minority acceptance at the U.

"I think this fight song is setting a standard. It's allowing hurtful speech to be perpetrated," Boyer said. "Even if it was not intended to offend people, it's offensive to people now."

Others have questioned how much the words of the fight song affect prospective and current students.

"I don't think students come to the University of Utah for the fight song. I think people go to a college for the education," assembly member Ashley Newhall said.

Assembly member Cheston Newhall said more time should have been taken to inform students of the resolution proposing the change, and focus should instead be placed on addressing inequality issues on campus at-large.

"To try and address the issues of oppression at college events, I don't believe this is the best way to do it," he said.

The results of the vote will be sent to U. President David Pershing, who will decide whether to enact the change. If approved, it could take effect as soon as fall semester.

Email: mjacobsen@deseretnews.com

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