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More emails: The fight over the University of Utah fight song

Published July 7, 2014 1:22 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Through a open records request under the Government Records Access and Management Act, The Salt Lake Tribune received copies of the about 1,300 comments from students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members regarding possible changes to "Utah Man" school fight song. The U. redacted names of current students under FERPA concerns. Here is a selection of comments the U. received.

"The beloved tradition of gender inequality is all too pervasive in our culture, the University of Utah should consistently strive to depart from that tradition."

— Alumnus Eric Smith

"I think the fight song should be changed. It was written at a time when this university was a totally different place. We need to remember that our fight song reflects the school and all of its students, so if the words resonate poorly with any subset of students, then we need to re-evaluate those words."

— Jenna Mae Goodrum

"Singing the fight song with my peers made me feel even closer to my university community — except every time I had to declare myself a "Utah man."

— Alumna Valery Pozo

"My grandfather was one of the first cheerleaders at the U., and at his funeral we all sang the fight song."

— Stephen Moody

"Ever since I was a fair coed in the 1960s, I have always thought it strange to sing, "I am a Utah man." If the University of Utah had started out as a women's college whose "fight song" began, "I am a Utah woman and I live across the green," you can be sure that, as soon as men were let in, the words would have changed instantly, because no man, then or now, wants to sing, "I am a Utah woman." It's just as absurd for a female to proclaim in song or otherwise, "I am a Utah man."

— Almuna Betty Schoeffler

"Please remember that the majority cannot and should not be expected to speak for the minority or even empathize with a minority opinion... A fight song should unite a fan base rather than divide it. Utah Man has failed at that basic mission."

— Current student

"Even back in the '80s, I would fumble when I got to the line "Utah man am I," trying to substitute something that included me, a female. I … felt LESS school pride than I did before the band played the fight song."

— Alumna Val Murdock

"Referring to female students as co-eds is like calling women pilots 'pilotesses' or women police officers 'officerettes' … Does the U believe that women are students in their own right, or are they merely adjuncts to the U's male students? Singling out female students' attractiveness … is belittling and condescending. Is this the 1950s?"

— Alumna Cassie Ulrich

"What do you want us to say, 'Our co-eds are pretty ugly and our guys are a bunch of wimps?'"

— Alumnus Timothy L. Orton

"Time and space will not allow me to go into too much detail how much this song means to me and my family. My dad would hum it while listening to games on the radio when I was growing up. I taught my kids the words before taking them to their first game. My kids, my brothers and I all sing it at the top of our lungs both in the tailgate lot and during the games."

— Karolyn Engh

"This whole ordeal of changing everything to make it more 'politically correct' makes me sick! It seems that we now live in a country where if you don't feel special for whatever reason you can just whine about it and everybody has to go out of their way to make you feel special. There is no respect for tradition. No respect for the majority."

— Mike Findlay

"Saying I'm a 'Utah fan sir, Utah fan am I' isn't going to suddenly make men respect me more."

— Current student

"No matter what the words are, people who are looking to be offended will always find something offensive … We were considering making a sizable donation to my alma mater, but upon learning of this 'resolution,' we are seriously rethinking that option … We will try and find a means of donating so that the ASUU will not have access to those funds."

— Alumna Cynthia Stults

"This was about one man's personal agenda and desire to be seen by everyone and his personal need to feel like he did something of significance."

— Alumnus Jason Hall

"This is like Obama implementing Obamacare when the majority don't want it to happen."

— Quinn Cottle

"Anyone with knowledge knows that the use of the word man encompasses everyone."

— Siciley Kirk

"It is a selfish attempt at name recognition by those abusing their power."

— Brandon Dahl

"I do not believe the minority should control the issue... tradition and history can and should trump political correctness at times."

— Alumnus Spencer Rice

"This is clearly 'tyranny of the minority.'"

— Alumnus Dan Parker

"Perhaps the University can arrange for the so-called offended parties to receive a hug or better yet to be enrolled in an English class to better learn and understand the definitions presented here."

— Alumnus Mitch Brinton

"Anyone interpreting words such as 'fairest' as offensive would benefit from psychological counseling."

— John Mastakas

"I'm tired of having to cater to the minority... WE ARE the group that spend the money, been in the same seats as these KIDS and take pride in all that being a Utah Man is. I hope we choose to support the masses and not the minorities. That's the American way."

— Alumnus Brandon Bishop

Poem written by Mark Fotheringham:

"I am a Utah human and I'm feeling rather green.

It seems my dear old fight song is now racist, rude and mean.

How dare we call our co-eds fair? Someone could take offense.

And so we'll change the lyrics so that we don't seem so dense.

Who am I sir? A eunuch man am I.

A girly man sir, I think I'm going to cry.

We're up to snuff, but wait, I think that word might mean cocaine.

Finding words to please the nerds is really quite a pain.

But if we do, oh when we're through, we'll shot it to the skies:

In P.C.-land we're dull and bland as those who love the "Y."

"I wonder how many men would want to say Utah Gal or Utah Girl while singing the fight song … The use of 'man' is offensive to me and can easily be changed to a more suitable term that applies to all."

— Alumna Merrie Smithson

"When I arrived at the University of Utah 30 years ago to attend graduate school, I was appalled by the Utah fight song. It reflects a paternalistic state culture. I am embarrassed for my adopted state."

— Alumna Verna Huiskamp

"I think those who find the words to 'I Am a Utah Man,Sir' offensive should take a chill pill and get a life."

— Alumnus Richard Clegg