Editor’s note: This story has been updated from its original version to correct inaccuracies.
ASUU voted last week to support a potential change to make the U’s fight song, “Utah Man” more inclusive.
The joint resolution was drafted by ASUU president Sam Ortiz and passed unanimously by both ASUU’s Assembly and Senate. The bill does not make definite changes — it only stipulates that changes will be made, and that ASUU supports them. The actual changes will be proposed by the Academic Senate.
Mark Pittman, an ASUU representative from the College of Law, said he supported the investigation of the fight song because he wants to address student concerns about the song being discriminatory.
Several organizations will have to approve any changes to the song, so Pittman said he is not afraid of poor changes.
Ortiz said the fight song has entered “new arenas” such as graduation commencement ceremonies, raising concerns from a lot of students. He said that bill passed through the Assembly and Senate meetings without a single vote opposed to it.
“There are a lot of things that happen on campus that make different groups of students feel less at-home or welcome,” Ortiz said. “Some people are OK with it, but those people who aren’t comfortable with [it] are those who already feel marginalized.”
He said the U is doing everything possible to further the cause.
“I encourage students to voice their opinions to the ASUU president and his cabinet as they review the issue,” Pittman said. “ASUU takes student concerns very seriously, especially ensuring the inclusion of all students on our diverse campus.”
Ortiz said more is coming in regards to the issue. He said the next stop for the bill is the Academic Senate. Ortiz said the Board of Trustees would most likely hear the proposed changes after the Academic Senate.
“I’ve kind of always also felt that [the wording of the fight song] was a little male-centric and not inclusive,” Ortiz said. “The premise is, the song isn’t inclusive — how can we make it inclusive?”
Ortiz said the words of concern in the song are the repetitious “Utah man” phrases as well as “our coeds are the fairest” portion in the first stanza. Ortiz said that while many students might be afraid of changing a big tradition in the U’s history, he believes many students will get behind making it a more inclusive tradition.
“This is an example of something that makes this campus less inclusive,” Ortiz said “A lot of students choose not to participate in athletics because of things like this song and like the drum and feather.”
This joint resolution is the latest attempt by Ortiz and his administration to create a more inclusive environment on campus to help foster diversity. Ortiz has worked on a diversity training program for staff and faculty to help cut back on comments that make students feel unwelcome.
“I knew without having to talk to another student that this would be a divisive issue,” Ortiz said.