Rutgers Fight Song Lyrics Go Gender Neutral – Did They Need to Make the Change? [POLL]
The Rutgers traditional fight song, “On the Banks of the Old Raritan” has gotten a facelift. However that change hasn’t gone over with a good many alumni who feel the song, bending to the gender neutral flow of the times, shouldn’t have been changed with at all.
The lyric, "My father sent me to old Rutgers / And resolv'd that I should be a man” has been changed to : "From far and near we came to Rutgers / And resolved to learn all that we can."
To me it sounds disjointed; and yes, there’s something wrong with change for change sake.
Unless, of course, you’re a woman, and felt somewhat foolish singing, “resolv’d that I should be a man!” all this time.
As an example, last night while watching the Emmys, Carrie Underwood commemorated televised events of 50 years ago by singing the Beatles’ “Yesterday” complete with the lyric, “I’m not half the man I used to be!”
And while singing it, I thought, “funny she’s singing it as a man would; however even in PC Hollywood, the producers of the show dared not change the words of a classic Beatles’ song just to appease that crowd.
It would not have gone over well with traditionalists.
So in the face of all this, alumni and present day students alike are having mixed reactions to the changing of the lyrics to the fight song.
Scarlet Knights fans tailgating outside of High Point Solutions Stadium did not have high praise for new lyrics in the Rutgers traditional fight song.
"I think they're changing too many things," said Lucy Arbes, 52, whose son is a recent graduate. "I believe in tradition."
"People love that song," she said. "They get into it, they love it."
The song — sung at football games, commencement and other campus events — will no longer begin "My father sent me to old Rutgers / And resolv'd that I should be a man."
Instead, the first verse will begin: "From far and near we came to Rutgers / And resolved to learn all that we can." The chorus and second verse will remain the same.
The change comes after decades of debate at the 65,000-student state university, where half of the students are women.
Marianne Fitzgerald, whose son is a Rutgers senior, felt the song, now 150 years old, should not have been updated to be "politically correct."
"It's tradition," she said. "Why would you ever break tradition?"
Allan Dguerra appreciated the change. A graduate of the class of 1995, the Bergenfield man said the lyrics were outdated and hearkened back to the days when Rutgers was an all-male school.
"The lyrics are outdated if you take them seriously," he said, adding that the changes are "a sign of the times. It just makes everything more inclusive."
Dguerra pointed to changes being made in Alabama regarding exclusive sororities.
"If they can do it in Alabama, we can do it in Rutgers," he said.
As the glee club took the field in one of many pre-game traditions, the new lyrics were displayed on monitors throughout the stadium.
Many mumbled through the first lines but picked up after. Despite almost universal animosity about the changed lyrics, a big cheer went up when the song was finished.
"I just think Rutgers always has to muff something up," said Peggy Hutchinson, who was singing along. A former graduate student at the school, she and her husband have season tickets.
She was disappointed in the change in lyrics, even though she said it was barely noticeable.
"Most people are trying to develop traditions," she said. "We have one and we're trying to get rid of it."
Travis Russo, 30, was with the group. He pointed out that "man" could be a reference to humanity in general.
"All mankind means all person kind," he said.
Another reveler was more blunt.
"It's B.S." said Michael Coates, 25. He referred to himself as an honorary alumni and a big Rutgers fan. "Why change it to be politically correct?"
"This isn't France, this is America," he said. "Hashtag, boom."
He’s right in a way. But this is not so unusual since this move is in keeping with a general tone of what’s going on at college campuses all over the country. West Point, Penn State, even Alabama have made similar changes to reflect the times we live in. Why should Rutgers be any different?
And just because it sounds odd to change the lyric of a 140 year old fight song, at some point as you sing it, you don’t even think about the change.